Will Jiu-Jitsu Get Me Into Shape And Make Me Happy?

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While the title of this blog post might sound a bit silly, trust me when I say this – Jiu-Jitsu will make you happy, and fit of course. Now as with everything in life, it’s not as simple as signing up to a few BJJ classes and voilà, your in shape, happy and life is just overall peachy. After signing up to BJJ, you will also have to consistently show up and keep showing up. Few tips on attending your first BJJ class here.

All You Need To Do, Is Show Up!

When you first sign up to Jiu-Jitsu or you have been given a gift card by a friend or relative for birthday, it’s important to just show up to your first class. This is the most important and also most difficult step when you’re looking to get into shape. Of course depending on your fitness level this step might be easier for some and more difficult to others. But not to worry, BJJ is for everyone and every fitness level. Just have to show up and take the first step.

Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone, every level of athleticism and age.

Improved Eating Habits

As with any physical activity, whether it be crossfit, yoga or something else, it’s only logical to acknowledge that showing up to classes is not enough. As your food intake will also play a very large role in getting into shape. Here’s where BJJ classes and training partners come in handy.

When first going to BJJ classes you probably won’t even notice this, but after a while it will become apparent that most of the higher level Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are following a healthy diet. 

Which is not to say that someone will start pushing their vegan, or a myriad of other diets they might be following, agenda on you. But just that it will come up in conversations after class and you will get tips on how to adjust your diet to suit your Jiu-Jitsu training.

Various diets that Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle will help you discover

Intermittent Fasting Example

In our first gym we were testing out variations of intermittent fasting programs (IF) and made it suit our training schedule. If you haven’t heard of IF before, it’s an eating program where you only eat during certain amount of hours a day and the rest of the time are fasting. There are no limitations on what to eat, rather it’s a time based program. Which is of course not to say that you should eat everything during your eating window, but to combine it with a balanced and healthy menu.

Our Jiu-Jitsu classes were in the morning so it was pretty easy to skip breakfast and to just have a little water before our BJJ sessions. And have our eating window afterwards during lunchtime around 2pm -7pm.

IF was just a part of it, we also tried to combine it with vegan diets and some low-carb, high-fat such as Ketogenic diets. These did not catch on in our group and after some testing we came to the conclusion that it’s best to listen to your body and eat moderately everything. Just eat less sugar and everything else is pretty much a go. However the IF part is what caught on and is very much in practice even ten years later.

This small description was just an example of how my diet changed when I started my Jiu-Jitsu journey and how it has affected my eating pattern till this day. So keep your ears open, you’ll most likely get some healthy menu ideas from your Professor or training partners. Or look into my IF post, where I go through the various upsides, downsides and IF scheduling options for Jiu-Jitsu.

Much Better Sleep

If you suffer from insomnia or some other form of sleeping disorder, given enough time Jiu-Jitsu will alleviate the problem if not eliminate altogether. You will get all the benefits from cardio training, as covered in depth by the National Sleep Foundation’s article on the Exercise & Insomnia plus some additional mental aspects from Jiu-Jitsu.

I’ve never had any real trouble getting my sleep time in. But I can definitely attest to the fact that it’s much easier to fall asleep, if during the day I’ve attended a BJJ class or just had a light sparring session. This will depend a bit on the schedule of your Jiu-Jitsu classes. As late night Jiu-Jitsu sessions might prove a bit counter intuitive for improved sleeping at first. But as your body will adapt—you will soon reap the benefits of BJJ just the same.

Jiu-Jitsu can also give you some nice dreams where you dissect your last rolling session to the max.

Fun fact: BJJ can also keep you up a little longer, wondering what you could have done better that day or why that move during sparring went sideways. But that is a very pleasant problem to have and is rather a positive mental exercise before falling asleep than anything else.

Reduce Stress And Depression With Jiu-Jitsu

As with the previous note about sleeping—any form of physical exercise has been proven to reduce stress due to production of endorphins. The magic chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and also improve your sleeping pattern, which in turn reduces stress.

BJJ can also help you forget about your daily problems and thus reduce the impact of negative emotions.

By no means is attending Jiu-Jitsu classes any sort of magic pill to cure a serious illness, but can be a valuable tool to at the very least to start the healing process. I’ve personally seen many such cases, where people have totally turned around their lives. And are happily immersed in BJJ to this day without looking back to their former selves. And again—all you need to do is just show up, everything else will follow!

General Lifestyle Improvement

Whether it’s skipping a night out on the town drinking beer, because on Saturday there is an open mat day in most Jiu-Jitsu gyms. Or just general supportive environment in all aspects—Jiu-Jitsu will most definitely have a positive impact on your life. As it will give you many other reasons to lead and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Overall there are a myriad of other lifestyle benefits which go hand in hand with Jiu-Jitsu. Not just new BJJ friends who will undoubtedly be influencing your lifestyle choices. So you just have to take the first step and see for yourself.

In conclusion

You will be fit, healthier, happier when starting your Jiu-Jitsu journey. This is a guarantee. This is said with few caveats, such as self discipline and some time, effort, plus a little sacrifice on your part is needed. But overall I’m confident that if you’ll let Jiu-Jitsu into your life, you will not regret this decision. Some tips if you’re staring Jiu-Jitsu in your 40’s can be read here.

P.S. Please let me know how it went in the comments. Osu!

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