5 Alternative Ways to Train When Life Interrupts Your Jiu-Jitsu Schedule

Photo via MP Sports Photography

Most of us are not able to train Jiu-Jitsu full-time, and probably never will.

I know, it sucks to start off an article with such a depressing first sentence, but it gets better (the article, not your life). See, life has a tricky way of popping up and getting in our way as often as it can. Life is like that really annoying kid in your Intro to Psych class who keeps interrupting the professor to give his own theories about the reason there’s not enough poetry in the world. It’s difficult to focus on what you really want to learn when you are continually interrupted. So what can you do?

  1. Wake up Insanely Early

For me, I work from mid-morning to early afternoon, have a couple hours break, then go back to work for another shift until 10 PM. Here in the mid-west, there is no such thing as a full-time academy around here. I can’t take advantage of those few, precious, work-free hours in the afternoon to go train anywhere. Instead, I’m picking my kids up from school and doing other stupid stuff like making sure they do their homework or eat.


So recently, my only option has been to wake up at 5:30 AM and drive an hour away to a gym that has a 6:30 AM class. That early in the morning, we either look like zombies humping each other on the mats, or we’re so loaded with pre-workout that the cops actually suspect us of being meth-heads. But the fact of the matter is I still get to train.

  1. Talk to Your Coach

If you can’t train during normal gym hours, and there’s no god-awful early open-mat at your gym, talk to your coach about your situation and when you actually are available to train. Your coach, if they aren’t an asshole, will probably be pretty understanding if you’re someone who has always been consistent, paid your fees, and been an all-around good person at the academy. If you haven’t done those things, then you might be the asshole.

See, coaches want you to keep coming to their gym. It could be because they actually like you being part of their team, or it could be that they just want you to keep paying them. Either way, it could work to your benefit. If you’re a trustworthy individual, you might be trusted with a key to the gym. Literally every gym I’ve had the privilege of training at has had spare keys that they have distributed to hard-working individuals that they can trust (that last part is important).

Will they say yes? Maybe. Maybe not. If not, don’t take it personally. See if there is any other sort of arrangement you can work out with them so that you can still find ways to hit the mats.

  1. Go to a Commercial Gym

Yeah, I know it isn’t ideal, and I am fully aware of the fact that time lifting weights and doing cardio can never be a substitute for skills gained on the mats (but I’m sure at least a few people are already rushing down to the comments to post their Batman/Robin memes without actually reading the article). With that in mind, anyone who has had to take time off from training can tell you, the first week back is hell.

In Jiu-Jitsu, your body adapts to the strains being placed on it so that eventually you can handle marathon-rolling and perhaps only suffer mild soreness the next day. When you take time away, your body loses its cardio abilities first. Why we evolved from being persistence hunters to a bunch of sloppy grease-balls who get winded going up a flight of stairs is a mystery to me, but that’s just the way it is.

So instead of taking the risk of becoming a chubby slob who just watches TV when he gets home from work (looking at you Tommy), get to the gym and at least try to keep your strength and cardio up so your re-integration to grappling won’t be impossibly painful.

  1. Keep in Contact with Your Gym Buddies

A nice, sure-fire way to fall out of Jiu-Jitsu completely is to stop talking to people from your old gym. I’m not saying you’ve got to call up some guys and invite them out for beers, and I’m definitely not suggesting you continue to creepily hit on one of the women who trains at your gym (leave Gretchen alone already). There are ways to keep in contact with people outside of physical interaction (congratulations, introverts).

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve got a social media account of some type. Guess what this lets you do? Keep in contact with your training partners outside of the time you spend with them on the mats. If you aren’t doing this, you’re a bad training partner and you should feel bad.

  1. Drag Your Family/Significant Other to the Academy

Maybe it isn’t a work schedule keeping you away, but its familial obligations. Fine. Bring your family. If they want to sign-up and train, cool. If not, a little boredom never killed anybody. I don’t know how your family is, but my children don’t like to sit still for very long. I’m pretty sure no one else’s children are like that; mine just inherited some weird medieval illness that keeps them from being content while sitting and watching other people have fun.

Most gyms are cool with that anyways as long as your family isn’t interrupting the lesson or making it less-enjoyable for everyone else around them. If they make everyone else in public miserable, I am incredibly sorry for whatever else you have to endure within the privacy of your home.

Really though, don’t make your family an excuse to not go train. There’s no list of ways to out you as someone who does this. You’ll know if you’re doing it or not.



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