Training Environment Considerations

By Diane Ruth
Published on May 31st, 2012

As a Martial Arts teacher and Business owner I try to create a safe, welcoming learning environment for all who enter. I’m well aware that potential students immediately identify, whether positively or negatively, with the training space. If a potential customer doesn’t feel comfortable with the studio they will not enroll in your programs. People walk into your training space and make “on the spot” judgments about you as a teacher, the quality of your business, and even the effectiveness of your Art. This process starts with their pre-conceived notion of what a dojo should be, what the instructors should look like, and, of what, the location and training environment should consist. Whether a Martial Arts studio or fitness facility, people want the gym they choose to meet their personal image. For example, many women I've met dislike their big gym experience, yet continue to pay expensive and underused memberships because their image of fitness must be associated with a bright, shiny mega gym. Many Martial Arts business owners use these common customer biases to market their programs, location, and even themselves as instructors. These instructors are more than happy to give people what the “think” they want in a Martial Arts experience, often selling confidence instead of creating competent students.

Our current training environment is much the opposite. We teach out of an old barn; so we deal with the image issue a lot. We have limited space and musky smells, very “old school”. We try to dress up the space, but it still is not very appealing to the average consumer. We are currently building a new training facility. This will rectify some of the limitations we deal with in our current studio. While going through the building process we’ve made many choices on design, cosmetics, and price. We’ve determined what our image will be. We are practical people so the training floor was the biggest consideration, followed closely by safety. Now that we are nearing the end of the building process I’ve been focusing more on the “feeling” our studio should have.

By researching all natural cleaning products, I discovered a wonderful way to create a welcoming studio environment using products that will clean and disinfect, as well. It fascinates me how easy it is to clean with much cheaper, safer and all natural products, such as, vinegar. Some evidence shows vinegar to be almost as effective as bleach as a disinfectant. This research led me to work with essential oils; lavender, tea tree, peppermint; the list goes on and on. These oils can be used to clean and disinfect your studio. With so many essential oils to choose from you could vary the smell each month. Some oils will wake up the senses, some will relax your mind, and some will even influence your emotions. Today, I used Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint Oil. Their aroma creates a tranquil environment.

These solutions are very simple to use. Mix essential oils & water in a spray bottle. Sweep your mats well before spraying them. I sprayed two mats liberally, wiped them with the wet towel and moved on to the next set. After finishing four mats, I went back to the beginning of the row and wiped the first mat with the dry towel working my way back to the end. I repeated this process. An hour later I had cleaned over 200 square feet and it still smells so nice after a week of training.

These solutions smell much nicer than ammonia, pine scented cleaner, or bleach, can be used for regular weekly cleaning, and are not expensive. I will continue experimenting with the different oils to see how my students react to the aroma. I should be able to try most of the oils on my list before our new site opens.

I also recommend once a month, or more often if needed, to disinfect with a cleaner that will kill 99% of any blood borne pathogens. This is an important concern in our industry. Accidents can happen and we may bleed on the equipment from a cut toe or unintended hit. “Warning--- you are not supposed to use bleach on EVA (Ethylene, Vinyl, and Acetate) mats according to their care instructions. Puzzle mats made from EVA foam are commonly used in many training environments. I did use a bleach solution on these, a few times, before I read the instructions. I’ve had no issues with deterioration, so far. Look for more information on disinfecting and cleaning your studio. Write to let me know if you’d like more information about creating a clean and tranquil training environment at

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Diane Ruth

Diane started training in the Martial Arts in 1997 and received her Black Belt certification in 2003. For fifteen years Mrs. Ruth has trained in Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate exclusively. She is a professional instructor teaching both children and adults. Mrs. Ruth is a partner in M&D's Modern Martial Arts Club. M&D's Modern Martial Arts Club which is affiliated with The MALC and Kenpo2000. Diane's primary focus is developing a complete teaching strategy which incorporates Principle Based teaching.

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