Adulting and Jiu-Jitsu

How to Find A Balance Between Training and Life

Roll. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

For those of us who have fallen in love with jiu-jitsu, that would be the ideal life. No work deadlines, no parenting responsibilities, no money worries - just training, all day every day.  


But although ideal, for many of us it is not our reality. We are employees, students, wives, husbands, parents, and entrepreneurs, among other roles.  Regardless of where we are in life, the majority of us are grown adults with real adult responsibilities, including myself.  


I started training jiu-jitsu at age 32.  Our gym opened on my son’s fourth birthday and a week after my daughter turned one.  After roughly six months of training I was hooked, and from then on everything in my life revolved around jiu-jitsu.  I attended seminars, open mats, out of state retreats, took private lessons, and joined group classes 4-5 times a week.  This was on top of a full-time job and caring for a family. My hectic schedule carried on for more than three years until I got home from training one day and saw this.  


The photo above is my reality. Everything that represents what I love, minus the husband, is in the photo - my two kids, my yoga mat, my gym bag (with a sweaty gi on top), and a big box of chocolate cake. I love to train, practice yoga, and eat. My family is very supportive of my passions, but I was struck by what I saw in the car that night and I promised myself to achieve a better life balance.


But the big question was, how?  This was the challenge. Over the last couple months I have found that the following four things have helped me obtain more of a balance in life without sacrificing growth in the art that I love.  


Plan ahead and commit

I am guilty of being an “old-school” planner. I don’t schedule things on my phone; instead, I carry a mini monthly planner in my bag and I handwrite all of my plans, including training days. If I want to train three days a week, for example, I pen it in the planner for weeks and even months in advance so other activities will not interfere.   Then I am free to fill in those open days with other areas in my life that may need some attention like attending my daughter’s dance rehearsals or actually going to that dental appointment I keep putting off. The point is planning is the key - put it in your calendar and commit.


Communicate your priorities 

My kids were so young when I started training jiu-jitsu that they did not know any better. Going to the gym was a daily routine for them. But as they got older (They are now 5 and 8-years old.) I shared with them that it is essential for Mommy to train in order to stay healthy.  They understand that training regularly is necessary for my mental, physical, and emotional well-being. And because of this they support my passion for jiu-jitsu. Whether it is your children, spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend, share your priorities with the important people in your life so they know what to expect.


Think JOMO, not FOMO!!!!

Early on in my journey when I happened to miss a class or a seminar I had serious feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out).  I always thought that the one time I missed a class the Professor was for sure going to teach the secret to being the greatest jiujitiera of all time.  What if I missed a super cool submission and everyone tried it on me the next class? What if I missed out on the easiest way to escape from bottom side control?  (P.S. There isn’t one.)   


In my attempt at living a more balanced life I have learned the value of JOMO, the joy of missing out.  This took a while, but I learned that sacrificing mat time did not mean that I could not replace it with other things in my life that brought me joy.  One of the first things I did to achieve more life balance was to stop training on Sundays. Instead of going to the gym I go for bike rides with my son.  I get to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with my child, and be active. At the end of the day it was a win-win for me and my family.   


FOMO and guilt are often connected and can be powerful emotions, but the bottom line is - do not feel guilty. This works both ways. Do not feel guilty about giving up some training time to focus on other areas of your life.  If your hubby needs a little extra love, it’s ok! I promise your game will not fall apart if you miss a class or two.  


Similarly, do not feel guilty about sticking to your training schedule.  This refers to planning ahead and committing. Remember your priorities and what makes you happy.  


Embrace the journey

Journey as jiu-jitsu practitioners is a marathon, not a sprint.  Everyone’s journey is different and it is not always a straight path. Accept your personal journey and roll with it.  Life happens, priorities change, but jiu-jitsu will always be there. Since I have taken a more balanced approach to training and life my relationships on the mat have not changed. My teammates are supportive and encouraging and they continue to challenge me every time I step on the mat.  


Adulting is hard and so is training bjj.  Finding the right balance is challenging, but it can be done.  You can go out on the mat and slay all day and still be a responsible adult - you are a warrior, and you can do it all.  

 Adulting and Jiujitsu with Jennifer Frias

Jennifer Gonzalez is a purple belt at UFC Gym La Mirada.  She trains under Professor Jeff Nolasco and her favorite submission is the bread cutter.