Fitness Roadtest: Elements Fitness | HerCanberra

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Fitness Roadtest: Elements Fitness

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There was a time when I used to train at an all women’s gym, and I loved it.

In the past few years, however, I’ve been training in mixed sex gyms and fitness facilities. I’d become so accustomed to working out in the presence of men that I’d almost forgotten how it once seemed uncomfortable… until I received an invitation to try out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I’ve got to be honest – the thought of a contact sport (particularly one I wasn’t confident in) like BJJ with guys did make me uneasy. That was until I discovered it was a women’s only class at Elements Fitness.

I’d met Ben Langford, owner of Elements, back in May 2014 when I was invited to roadtest his Crazy Monkey classes. I’d loved the class, particularly Ben’s coaching style with his straightforward, specific instructions.

This time around, I was invited to try the Women’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes in their new studio on Mort Street in Braddon, with coach Eugene Van Leest.


I’d never tried BJJ before, and I was just a touch nervous. I regularly try new classes with people I haven’t met before and I’m pretty good in a group setting – but pair me up one on one in an activity like dancing or martial arts and I’m a nervous shy wreck.

I arrived early to the studio and was given a Gi (a white kimono-style top and loose pants) as well as a belt. After changing I watched the end of the class before mine. The participants looked fit, strong and graceful. I was impressed… and slightly intimidated.

Women began arriving for the class and were all smiles. While they all were at different levels of experience, I got the strong impression that they identified with being ‘the new girl’ at one stage or another, and were consequently very supportive and friendly.

Eugene introduced me to the class and explained what we’d be doing – learning some new movements and then doing a little light sparring.


A little background on Eugene: he’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt with over 14 years experience, including more than ten years of professional sports coaching experience. What I really liked about him is that he strikes the balance between being laid back and serious, making you feel comfortable but also pushing you to focus and work hard. He’s also very considerate – we were paired together in sparring at several points during the class and he kindly checked that I was ok with this. While it was fine with me, I appreciated the respect for my personal space.

The movements in BJJ are quite technical, but Eugene explains them in a way that makes sense. He watches students closely, providing corrections and instructions along the way. There were some points – flipping over your partner or rolling backwards for example – where I thought “I can’t do that”. Eugene patiently explained each part of the movement until I got it right.

Throughout the class, we rotated partners, which I liked. Not only did I get a better sense of BJJ at different levels but I also found that each of the other women in the class helped me in different ways – suggesting particular manoeuvres or offering little tips.

One of my favourite parts of the class was where we were paired up and would take turns performing moves. Eugene explained that it was just like wrestling with a sibling when you’re younger (although in my case, less aggressive and competitive). Each partner was given the opportunity to perform a movement until they gave the signal to their partner to make the next move – and so it went on for a few minutes. Originally I freaked out a bit at this concept – after all, as someone totally new to BJJ I didn’t know any of the movements or how to escape from different holds or positions. After a few turns, however, I relaxed a bit and began to enjoy the challenge.

If you’re going to give BJJ a go, be prepared to sweat. It’s physically challenging and before I knew it, I was damp with sweat and my heart was racing. I barely noticed, however, as I was so engaged in the class.

You should also be prepared to fall on your butt more than once. This is part of practising movements on each other in groups and it’s actually pretty fun. Plus, you’re taught how to fall correctly so it doesn’t actually hurt.

This was one of those classes that took me by surprise – I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s heaps of fun, a great challenge, and by all accounts seems like a lovely, supportive community of people.

In terms of the class timetable, classes are run on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6pm to 7.30pm, and on Saturdays from 12.30 to 1.30pm. There are different levels of membership, which include access to various classes including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Freestyle Wrestling so it’s worth chatting to the friendly team about which option is right for you.

Elements offer a free trial week to go in and experience any of their programs, and are generously offering HerCanberra readers a 20% discount on memberships – get in quick to secure your place! 

the essentials

What: Elements Fitness
Where: 24 Mort St, Braddon
Phone: 0402 581 977

This is a sponsored post but opinions are the author’s own. It complies with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s guidelines on Online ReviewsRead our Sponsored Post Policy if you would like more information. The author received her sessions free of charge. 

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