Most judo clubs around the world offer free trials. Usually you can come for one or two session (or maybe even up to a week) for free.

Like these clubs, we also initially offered free trials. As a general rule of thumb, we don't anymore.

There are a few reasons for this. The first one is very obvious. People generally don't appreciate free things. They might take up free opportunities but they don't value them. So, they might make a booking and not show up. Or they might show up and treat the session as one big social media opportunity.

So, charging for trial sessions filters out those who are not serious. If they pay for the their trial session they must really want to give judo a serious try. I learned this principle from a yoga instructor whose studio I used to rent for my judo classes.

She said at her studio nothing is free, including trial sessions. If someone wants to try a class they have to pay. "Look, if they are not willing to pay RM40 to try out your two-hour class, they are not serious about joining judo," she said. Her point resonated with me.

Since then, we started to charge for trial sessions.

We used to have a member who brought many friends to try our free trials (back when they were free). Not a single one signed up. All came, had a nice workout and a good experience (all chronicled on Instagram and Facebook, of course) but never returned. In short, they were never serious about joining judo.

When we announced that there would be no more free trials, that member protested on our group chat and said this move is killing off prospects. Never mind that none of the so-called prospects he brought to the club ever joined. He felt it was the wrong move.

Shen, our children's coach, gave an analogy, saying you can't go to a restaurant and expect to get a free meal on your first time there. The member said that was a flawed analogy because there are costs involved in offering a free meal. What he doesn't realize is that there are also costs in offering a free trial.

Judo can't be done without a judogi, so we have to loan these out. They have to be washed in the laundromat afterwards. There is a cost to that. But more importantly, absolute beginners take up time. We need to allocate coaching resources to them. It's fine if they are real prospects but if they are there just to snap a few Instagram pics, it's a waste of our valuable time which could be spent focused on actual members.

Charging a fee for trial sessions ensures that only serious prospects will come for a trial. Many judo club owners will disagree with this approach. They will say it's hard enough getting people interested in judo. If you charge a fee for trial sessions you will kill off all but the ones who are really determined to learn judo.

But those are exactly the ones we want