All around the world members of the public are being recommended to take precautions amidst the coronavirus outbreak. More recently, in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a set of guidelines labeled “Mitigation Strategies for Communities” (check here) set in an attempt to stifle the spread of COVID-19. These recommendations include “Social Distancing”— a term epidemiologists are now using for a conscious effort to restrict close contact between people in the hope this will slow down the transmission of the virus.
Given the generalized scare supported by the current media narrative, 1000s of paying gym members in Europe have rushed to cancel their memberships in the past couple of weeks. This frenzy has put plenty of small business owners in severe financial stress, Jiu-Jitsu gym owners are among that group.
Outside the glamorous lifestyle lived by jiu-jitsu coaches (read sarcasm), most grappling gyms survive in a month by month structure, or close to it. They operate lean and with tight profit margins. Without the support of their community, they will be in dire straits very quickly.
In a recent interview, BJJ Heroes had with a Jiu-Jitsu academy owner regarding this recent student exodus, the disheartened grappler said “we had about 100 student cancelations in the last few days and no new members. I have to pay my rent in 10 days if this keeps going there is a real risk I will lose everything“. This was one example of many we have heard and contacted.
In one of the most recent episodes of the Joe Rogan Podcast (see below), epidemiologist Michael Osterholm referenced the virus would likely keep spreading for the foreseeable months, possibly even one year, though he also laid out a positive blueprint for success.
If Dr. Osterholm’s timeline is correct, one year is a long time for a lockdown, and it is highly unlikely that our social infrastructures will sustain such an extended confinement period. We do not claim to have an answer here, what we would like to do, is plead to the jiu-jitsu crowd not to give in to the panic. Take precautions, always, but whenever possible, support your local community. Pay your membership, keep in touch with your workgroup.