This is no doubt a question that has gone through many a prospective students' head. It matters not the subject but for this blog I am concentrating on Martial Arts and Strength and Conditioning classes. In my 25+ years of experience I have asked myself this question quite a lot in the many classes I have attended as a student/trainee. Unfortunately, sometimes the answer hits you like a falling anvil once the class or seminar is over. Hindsight is a great thing, so here's to making that time machine. I digress, lets look a little deeper.
It costs a lot, it must be good!?!
This is a phrase that too many people get hooked in, a strange mindset almost brain washing. If the costs are high, then ask why? Its simple. High Cost doesn't necessarily mean High Quality. Costs may be expectedly high, but, still affordable, for example, if there is a specialist seminar by a veteran instructor or coach. This is all the more understandable if this said host is entrusting you to by bestowing you with an instructor status to carry their name and teach their system. But, for the many of us, all we want is to belong to a class to learn something new, improve their physique, loose a few pounds, etc. This should not cost the earth. If it does, question it!
Beware of hidden costs!
As you enter your next class, whether for the first time or for the umpteenth, think for a moment of how much you are paying. Obviously many martial art and some strength classes have a need for student insurance, this is a definite tick in the box, so make sure you get something that is endorsed by a known insurance company or one you can google and read about and contact should you need them. Next, you may need appropriate uniform, gi, kimono or t-shirt. Many classes have a grading structure, and unfortunately, this is where I tend to have my own reservations as often I feel these costs can often be ridiculous. Often too, the gradings are set in stone to be every 3 months and range from 3 to 20 or more. Don't get me wrong, gradings are good for personal progression and to gain an achievement. I have also witnessed schools grading for the sake of making money, whereby students step through all the levels and reach black without ever failing despite their own feeling they did not do their best and are unworthy of their belt. Learning from failure is success in itself. Finally, classes often charge a fee by hour, session, day or some schools offer a by monthly scheme. This leads me on to my next section.
Should I pay per month or by session?
I have been saddened lately to hear of a class who charge a somewhat hefty monthly fee by direct debit and then charge their students per each and every session on top of that. This is strange to me and if you find yourself on the doorstep of such a school, ask a few more questions as to see really what you money is going on. Personally I offer both, pay per class or pay per month and my monthly fee is sweetened by allowing a few free classes so the student can really benefit. My advice to you is, if you are offered either, sit down with a calculator and work out what is the most beneficial to your pocket. If you are told to pay both, either question it or find another school.
What do I get for my money?
Ah, you're learning. Over the past 10 or so years many fitness schools and martial art academies have appeared all over. All claiming to teach the ultimate fighting system or be the only place where you can miraculously loose 3 inches from your waist and 5 pounds in your first night. Hmmm...if that were true why are there still so many people still clinically obese? Mind you some say they have the best state of the art equipment to give you a ripped and toned body in a week. Yeah, right. What you should be looking for in your class or rather in your instructor/coach is lineage, knowledge and practical experience. Who taught them? Are they just out of college or university with theory but little practice? Have they just signed up on-line / read a book / attended a 1 day seminar and miraculously they are "The Guru"? Mind you, if you are new to instructing or coaching then gain some experience teaching free, or at nominal costs until you have experience. Also, don't run out and buy a training hall, hire one - just make sure you got your PI & L insurance. At the other end of the scale is the wise grey haired master teaching from the other end of the room firmly stuck in a rut. An instructor / coach in my opinion should constantly challenge you, the student. But he/she must constantly challenge him or herself too, devising new methods of training and further training him or herself. A great instructor is but a student. My point in this section is, your money should be invested in your development and not harvested by a miserly instructor/coach.
Cost of a Class
In this final section, I would like to mention class size. As you know over the years, school room classes in primary, secondary and tertiary have been advised to reduce in size to improve the quality of schooling. This is an area that should be reflected in the sport industry too. I personally teach up to a maximum of 20 but preferably I limit my maximum class size to 12, as I feel larger classes will loose out on optimum instruction and coaching. Some schools split the class further to subsections where lower instructors teach the different subsections but again these tend to max out at 12-20. Beware if the class you attend is in excess of this.
I would just like to say thank you for reading this and I hope I have provided some useful advice.