We’re back! We’ll sort of. Most countries in Europe are starting to relax with the Covid-19 control measures, and in the process, BJJ gyms are starting to reopen. However, for anyone that thought it would be just a massive open mat party the first day back, you better think again. I can’t presume how long it will last, but I dare say that until the end of 2020, we won’t be training BJJ like before. The good news is that we’ll be able to train, and that’s something. However, there are some brand new and improved BJJ hygiene protocols that we’ll have to obey if we want to remain open and keep training.
The responsibility for keeping a BJJ gym Covid-19 free is going to be with both the students and coaches (as usual). BJJ Hygiene is going to become the sole most important thing when someone enters a Jiu-Jitsu academy. Seriously! All that stuff about washing your Gi and your belt etc that we talked about before now gets a whole different meaning. There will be Gi washing instructions, there will be screening, taking temperature and other things we never thought we’d see in BJJ. But hey, if that’s the price of training, then so be it!
Personal BJJ Hygiene Requirements
Before we start, let’s make sure we’re aware of what the categories of BJJ hygiene are. In other words there will be levels or layers of protection in order to keep a gym Covid-19 free. If just as much as one case emerges, it might mean the entire academies to close again, and it may even turn out to be for good.
When it comes to personal hygiene, things go well beyond just being clean and showering regularly. The Gis and all training equipment will need to be in pristine condition. When it comes to mouthpieces, I’d leave them out completely. Still, for those that have to wear them, heavy-duty disinfection will be mandatory. Ideally, you’d have people arriving already dressed in their Gis and heading straight to the mats. However, for those that can’t realize this, dressing rooms will have to be rotated. More on that later on in the gym BJJ hygiene department.
As far as personal hygiene goes, given that we’re dealing with a respiratory virus, the protocols for entering the gym are going to include alto more control. First up, it is advisable that you do a screening via a questionnaire for all members. The best way to do it safely is online, before you actually open the gym. That way, you’ll be able to prevent even suspicious cases from entering the mats.
Next up, be ready to measure temperature and carefully write down attendance. A non-contact thermometer is a must, and everyone that enters will get have their temperature taken. Note down the temperature as well as when the person arrived, an which area of the mat’s they’ll be training with. Also, you’ll have to not who their training partner is, as well as everyone else in the group.
BJJ hygiene of the facilities where we train was always a thing of great importance. Now, it is going to be the biggest factor in whether or not you create a Covid-19 cluster. To begin with, re-opening the gym is only advisable if your local government allows it. Moreover, if they have other protocols in addition to what we offer, you’re best off following them as well. The ones we share are mandatory in order to keep people safe on the mats.
First of all, you’ll have to set up disinfection barriers. That means getting a metal box with low edges, putting a towel or rags inside, and soaking them in disinfectant. One of these should be at the main entrance, and in front of each toilet and, if you’re using them, in front of each changing room.
Hand sanitizers should be placed at the entrance, and their use has to be mandatory. The person at the reception desk should wear a face mask, and a Plexiglas shield should be placed on the desk itself. Anti-microbial soaps should be in the toilets.
All surfaces in the gym, from common areas to the mats need to be thoroughly cleaned with a chlorine-based disinfectant. However, since chlorine doesn’t work when there’s organic mater on any surface, you’ll have to first use soap and water, and then the disinfectant for best results. You’ll have to repeat the process between each group of people that comes in to train.
Another huge thing to remember is aeration. If you have an air conditioning system that can pull air out, it would be perfect. In any case, even if it is by windows only, make sure you aerate the mats and changing rooms between groups.
Finally, a big thing to remember is to ask people to leave their phones in their pockets. No phones or personal stuff should ever come in contact with the mat area at any cost.
When it comes to classes themselves that’s where we’ll feel the most difference. It is ales where BJJ hygiene is more important than anywhere else. People are going to be in close contact and the dangers of transmitting something to one another, or those that come to train after them is huge. However, with precautions and solid BJJ Hygiene measures we can minimize if not eliminate the risks altogether.
First of all, people that train, will have to train with one partner only. That should last for 3-4 weeks at least. Moreover, depending on the size of the gym and the local government recommendations, there shouldn’t be more than 4-8 pairs of people on the mats. That will mean more groups of fewer folks, which is a logistical nightmare, so you better start organizing it now.
Training areas should be numbered and assigned to each pair. It is great if you can physically separate the areas with a barrier, but if not, marking them will do. Disinfection of each mat space after people training is a must, of course.
The training itself should last no longer than 40 minutes, given how much disinfection and protocols are in place. No-contact training is dumb for me, so training should consist of drills and light flow rolls. After almost three months out, people will be rusty, and they’ll want to roll. Give them that, but not in a way that they injure themselves. For 3-4 weeks. This will be the new normal way of training BJJ.
If you’re using the changing rooms, you should think about rotating them. That means one group uses one, the other goes in different, physically separated changing rooms. That’ll give you time to disinfect so the third group goes back to number one etc, etc.
BJJ hygiene is the one thing that will allow us to successfully train once again. Unless we follow strict protocols and take care, we won’t be able to train for a long, long time. Nobody wants to sit at home when other BJJ schools are opening, so let’s all be smart about it and focus on BJJ hygiene and following all protocols as best we can. Now, it is time to wash that Gi, as the slap and bump is not far away!