Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the ultimate self-defense martial art.
It comes with so many benefits from physical fitness to flexibility, personal safety to taking down larger opponents, and everything in between.
It’s a fantastic sport, and it has particular athletes who want their BJJ gym to have everything that they could possibly need.
So how much does it cost?
The answer is actually pretty straightforward once you have a list of necessities, and you choose the brands that you want to purchase gym equipment from.
We’ll give you a dollar-for-dollar breakdown of just how much it costs to set up a basic BJJ gym.
What is the Average Cost of a BJJ Gym for Members?
It’s difficult to find an average. Some BJJ memberships will cost you $50 a month, but will require you sign a 12-month contract.
We notice more BJJ memberships hover around $110 to $175 per month, commonly requiring you sign a six-month contract.
The average BJJ gym member will sign up for three classes per week. This appears to be the most common structure for BJJ classes no matter where you look. If users are paying $175 per month, they can expect to see a rough $14 per class if they break it down.
However, you’re going to have instructors teaching these classes—it’s not just a bunch of equipment in a room with a water cooler and a desk clerk. It’s active and involved, so you need to balance between the cost of running your business, and finding attractive price points for clients to agree on.
Some may want come-as-you-go classes, but that would be a financial and logistics nightmare for many of us (unless you’re the one running every class, but then who’s running the rest of the business?).
It’s tricky, but consider multiple subscription styles. You don’t have to be strictly linear with the way you price access to these classes. Schedule instructors to be there for blocks of time, and price different class structures accordingly.
- $175/month = 3 classes per week valued at $14.2 each
- $125/month = 2 classes per week, valued at $15.6 each
- $80/month = 1 class per week, valued at $20.0 each
More classes means a better deal in terms of per-class costs. Depending on the number of participants in each tier, you can restructure your class times and sizes to maximize your profits.
Cost Breakdown of Owning a BJJ Gym
We’ve talked about pricing and what users expect to pay, but now we have to talk about what you need to actually start a BJJ gym and what it’s going to cost.
This way you can determine how long it will take to recover the initial investment through profit in your BJJ gym, or if it’s in your best interest to start one at this moment.
This is the quintessential equipment list that you need to get started. Keep in mind that you’re offering all of these as a service included in the price of your classes.
The only exception is that BJJ athletes may bring their own gi’s, but other than that these items will all be hosted at your gym.
You can go with individual mats or rubber flooring to be installed in a larger space. In a 12 ft x 12 ft space, it’s roughly around $800 to $1,000 to lay down rubber flooring in that area, which amounts to around $5.50-$6.95 per square foot. Prices will vary.
If you want your gym to have fluidity and let you move things around as you see fit, you should get large mats and piece them together so they can be moved/removed as needed. These mats will be less expensive since there’s no installation. These average around $5.00-$6.00 per square foot.
The gi is a uniform specific to BJJ, and isn't hugely expensive. This is something you can have handy for your athletes to use, but just like mouth guards, it’s generally a personal purchase.
You can make it a requirement for athletes to bring their own, unless you can anticipate the cost of maintenance and cleaning for your own assortment (of course, with rental fees includced).
Guards and Tapes
Mouth guards are a personal expense that athletes will bring along with them. You should make it a requirement of your classes.
These guards are around $27.00 up to about $95.00 depending on quality and specificity. It’s a good idea to have recommendations ready for your clients.
Tapes are inexpensive, at around $9.00 to $12.00 for about 25’ to 30’ (sellers make different lengths so it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number). Have rolls of this handy for your athletes.
Knee pads, shin gear, and the sort. These aren’t something that most athletes bring with them. They’re traveling light, so it’s important to have a selection of regularly cleaned and maintained pads in a variety of sizes.
The average price of knee pads for BJJ are around $18.00 per pad, or in pairs of $30.00, though it is common to see these pads sold individually.
Other Fitness Equipment
There are other pieces of gear in BJJ that are important, such as headgear, foam rollers, and grappling dummies. You’ll find other items along the way that you want to add to your gym as well.
Dummies can be relatively cheap at around $40.00 up to $90.00 or so (there are higher-quality ones in the hundreds). Headgear will net you between $25.00 and $40.00 per piece, which may be offset as a personal expense to the athletes/clients.
Just remember that as long as you’re instructing athletes on how to perform BJJ, you can run other aspects of your gym as you see fit. A unique spin can help your gym stand out, so don’t be afraid to mix it up and offer pieces of equipment that you might not normally see in a BJJ gym.
You need instructors. According to Comparably, you can expect to pay between $21,400 and $29,120 per year for an instructor (and you don’t need just one instructor).
Glassdoor puts the average range much higher at a starting price of $44,079, and an ending average range of $59,264. This depends on experience and the payment structure.
Speaking of which, there’s another option: freelance BJJ instructors. Basically, you let them use your space for “free” to teach classes that you host. You receive a percentage of each class membership under that instructor.
The benefit here is that the instructors will try to bring clients in, which can reduce customer acquisition by a lot. This isn’t the most popular option, but it is available.
Membership Fees for BJJ Schools
You can consider your membership fees and classes as the same cost if you’d like. This is the most attractive price model for individuals who want to show up and use BJJ gym equipment on their own time without following classes.
Consider creating a separate pricing structure for “Gym Access” without including any classes, and price it at about half the cost of your cheapest package. That could end up netting you around $40-$60 per month depending on your membership structure, and all you’re doing is saying “Come on in an use the equipment” without an instructor there.
You want to include full access to the gym equipment during operational hours in any class pricing structure. Some athletes want to train every single day with or without the inclusion of an instructor nearby.
Location is everything, because there’s no way someone is traveling 45 minutes to take a class when there’s another BJJ gym that’s only 20 minutes away.
You need an accessible location that has enough space to actually be a BJJ gym. Typically, most options come down to strip malls, but you don’t have to do that. This is where you have to get creative.
Use a site/service such as LoopNet to find warehouse space nearby. These sites provide demographics such as the average median household income, so you can be sure that you’re servicing an area where individuals can afford your BJJ classes, while also getting a large space that you can transform however you want.
You can also rent out office spaces (which will be more put-together than a warehouse space). Consider all your options instead of just renting out a space that’s set up for a gym.
So now the cost? The average cost of an office space in many parts of the US is around $15.00 to $20.00 per square foot per year. So a space that’s 2,000 square feet would cost between $30,000 and $40,000 for the year.
The average cost of a warehouse space is around $8.50 to $14.00, but warehouse subdivision spaces are a lot bigger. For an average of 4,000 square feet, that would be between $34,000 and $56,000 for the year.
Location is a big factor in how you set up your BJJ classes. Be as sure as possible that you can actually hold enough classes or provide enough utility to more than cover this cost every year.
Final Verdict: Why BJJ Classes Are Often Expensive
Electricity bill to keep the lights on, hiring instructors, buying all your own equipment—these are all factors, but the main reason that you can charge a lot for BJJ classes (and why you should) is that you’re teaching a skill, not just physical fitness.
Gym access allows these athletes to put what they’ve learned into practice without an instructor present, but the whole point of classes is to train a skill that does more than just build muscle.
Simply running a gym where individuals come and go as they please to use equipment doesn’t require a lot of staffing. You’re offering a service that can help change someone’s life (and fitness, of course). Don’t undervalue it.