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Founded in 2014,  Four Elements Fitness is run by female martial artists, dedicated to equality and social change - building community strength through martial arts and fitness.

This gym changed my life. I am not a gym person. In fact, I'm afraid of gyms but my friends convinced me to go. Four Elements is more like a community studio all accessible to all sorts of levels/body types/genders etc." 

Sita B. 



A cause-driven gym, our programs and services enable individuals to realize their potential, offer ways to connect, have fun together, and empower people to be healthier in body, mind and spirit inclusive of all sexual and gender expressions, body types, and fitness levels. 



FOUR Elements Fitness gym strives to be a welcoming place for people who may not feel at home in other workout spaces. Your presence plays a major part of what makes the gym an excellent place to be. To make sure everyone is working together to word hard, we offer these guidelines to keep things smooth on and off the mat.


  • INJURIES:: Notify the instructor and training partners of any injuries or specific needs at the beginning of class and spar time. You can also email us in advance.

  • DISTRESS: If you feel panicked, step away from the mat. You are encouraged to prioritize your health and how your body feels.

  • NAILS: Nails should be cut short, clean and filed

  • CLEANLINESS: Clothes, feet and body should be clean and free of odor

  • SKIN: Do not train if you are sick or have a skin rash/lesion/infection

  • PROTECTION: Mouthguards are recommended for sparring

  • SHOES: No outdoor shoes on the mats (indoor only wrestling and Sambo shoes ok)

  • FEET: No bare feet in the bathroom or off the mats (flip flops are provided for use)

  • JEWELRY:: Remove bulky jewelry and piercings prior to class, if you cannot remove them, tape them down as to not get them caught

  • SUBSTANCE: While we respect personal life choices, Four Elements Fitness is committed to providing a safe training environment and ask that students not be under the influence where judgement is altered since it can become a safety issue. No smoking permitted in or near the academy.


  • FOUR Elements is an anti-racism and  gender affirming space owned by women of color. Our membership is more than 50% trans or gender non-conforming.

  • There are few training spaces in the world where trans people can train combat sports. Our mission is to create a place where trans people and may others who are often excluded from traditional martial arts spaces can feel safe and respected.


  • INTRODUCTIONS:: When you introduce yourself, offer up your own pronouns as well as your name.

  • DISCLOSURE: If a person discloses their pronoun, please use that pronoun.

  • NEUTRAL: Unilaterally using neutral pronouns ('they/them") is generally respectful –using them with with all people, trans and cis, unless they have disclosed their pronouns.

  • MISTAKES: If you use a wrong or assumed pronoun, correct the pronoun, restate the sentence, and move on. Excessively apologizing for misgendering someone can draw an embarrassing level of attention to them.

  • Even if it is an innocent mistake, using the wrong pronouns can create an unwelcoming environment.

  • PRACTICE: If you make pronoun mistakes often, try practicing on your own rather than asking a trans person for help or forgiveness.


  • WAIVER: Please be sure to sign a waiver in-person or online prior to taking your first class. If it is your first class, notify the instructor and training partner.

  • PARTICIPATION: All participation is opt-in. You are in control of what you do in the gym – you can step out of any activity, with no explanation needed. The instructor may check in with you to see if you need anything or would prefer a modified activity.

  • DISCUSSION: Take good care of yourself by discussing your boundaries with your training partner and instructor as needed.

  • BREAKS: If you are not participating in class/need a break, you are to step off the mat, with shoes, to make room for those who are participating.

  • LISTEN: Listen to the instructor and do not talk over them or "teach" your partner unless instructor has asked you to help them.

  • COOPERATION: During drills, let your partner perform the drill on you. Provide appropriate resistance when requested and check in with the instructors when there are questions.

  • If you are stronger and/or larger than your partner, be mindful of how you are moving. Do your best to be aware of how you are affecting the other person and check in after to see what you can improve on.

  • BEHAVIOR: Refrain from making sexual comments, jokes, or gestures. No biting or use of uncontrolled force or power.

  • AFTER: Make sure to take all your belonging with you at the end of class.

  • Tap early and often. Egos heal faster than the body.

  • If you hurt someone during sparring, they won’t be able to continue to roll. We want for everyone to keep coming back.


  • TAPPING: Respect the "tap," stop action and release partner in the event they "tap" or make a verbal exclamation. You should always apply submissions with enough control to give your partner time to tap. You should tap prior to "pain", when you are caught in a submission and cannot move out of it.

  • CHECK-IN: Regardless of belt rank, you are entitled to ask your training partners to lower their intensity especially when safety or injury is of concern. You are expected to comply with any request to lower intensity, otherwise you are to sit out of sparring sessions.

  • ROLLING/SPARRING: Rolling should be at about 20-50% intensity level, unless the instructor indicates otherwise

  • Slap hands and notify partner of any issues/injuries prior to round

  • RULES: In Gi (uniform) BJJ classes you are expected to follow IBJJF rules set based on your belt rank. If you are rolling with a lower rank, you will follow the rules according to their rank. You may use other rules sets if otherwise agreed upon prior to roll. Default rolling rules are always dictated by the instructor. Note that no gi and Saturday Sambo rules are different from IBJJF. If you are uncertain about the appropriateness of a technique, check in with the instructor of the class.




The FOUR Elements Art Series is a new, vital platform for artists - working in a range of media and at different stages of their careers - to present their ideas.

In addition to furthering their own practices and experimentation, artists are invited to respond directly to and engage with the space through unique classes, actions, happenings, and events.

The mission of the Art Series is to incubate community exchange addressing issues around health and movement. Hosted by Four Elements Fitness – a WOC owned gym that offers a variety of services specifically for LGBTQIA, POC, SW, and local groups working with at-risk individuals – a core component of this series is to recenter marginalized voices, bringing critical insight and a more well-rounded dialogue into the public realm.

Visit the Art Series Blog, or contact us with your idea for an exhibition, performance, or happening. 

Art Series Organizer:

Inocente Popocatépetl Guizar
Melissa Wyman




  • Four Elements Fitness is founded in Oakland, CA. Both founders Shawn and Sharon are champions of equality and social change.



  • Four Element Fitness officially opens its doors to the public.

  • Four Elements Fitness starts to expands programs and class offerings to include: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Functional Fitness, JKD/Kali, Russian Sambo and Yoga.



  • Four Element Fitness added an LGBTQ+ Jiu-jitsu class at a time when nothing like this existed. Today, more than 20 LGBTQ+ members attend the class weekly, making more than 40% of the gym members.   

  • Four Elements Fitness begins to offer scholarships and financial aid to low income and at risk individuals.

  • Four Elements Fitness continues expands programs and class offerings adding Boxing, Ginastica Natural, and Sanshou Kickboxing.

  • Four Elements Fitness teamed up with curator Melissa Wyman  to create the Four Elements Art Series, a new, vital platform for artists working in a range of media and at different stages of their careers to present their ideas.

  • Four Elements Fitness fundraised over $3,000 for local groups including: ACLU, Trans Lifeline, and Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter.



  • Four Elements Fitness worked with local school districts and youth agencies to create self defense and empowerment programs



  • Four Elements Fitness partnered with Rock Paper Scissor Collective, a non-profit organization, as a fiscal sponsor to help the gym qualify for more funding opportunities.

  • Four Elements Fitness expanded and secured a larger and more accessible space in the heart of downtown Oakland.

  • Four Elements Fitness launched the Queer and Transgender People of Color Fellowship Program providing unlimited classes monthly memberships for at-risk QTPOC to train via the generous funding from the Zephyr Foundation.


  • Four Elements Fitness partnered with the Sweaty Betties launching the Free Women of Color Self Defense Workshop Program which later in the year expanded to the Free Girls & Women's Self Defense workshop program.

  • Four Elements Fitness expanded their regular weekly class offerings to include youth classes.

  • Four Elements Fitness and the Sweaty Betties Girls & Women's Self Defense program was acknowledged by the City of Oakland and Major Libby Schaaf for its efforts to empower girls and women during domestic violence awareness month.

  • Four Elements Fitness officially provided over 30 QTPOC fellowships over the last year.


  • Four Elements Fitness partnered with the non-profit Traction Project to create free self defense and martial arts Friday classes for the LGBTQ+ community as well as subsidized the Transfighters Teacher Development Program.

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