Walking into a Muay Thai gym for the first time can be an intimidating experience. To be completely honest, your first session will be rough. Your body won’t be used to the intensity and you will feel quite sore afterwards. Don’t let that deter you, your body will eventually become accustomed to the training and you will find that there are many benefits to learning Muay Thai such as learning how to defend yourself, becoming fitter, and becoming a part of a positive gym community.
What is muay Thai
Muay Thai, also known as “The Art of The Eight Limbs”, is a traditional martial art that originated in Thailand. Muay Thai is deeply rooted within Thai culture and has been passed down from generation to generation, preserving its cultural significance.
Muay Thai makes use of punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes which is why it is referred to as the “Art of the Eight Limbs” as these are the points of contact. Muay Thai has gained popularity all over the globe and there will certainly be a Muay Thai gym somewhere within driving distance from you.
Benefits of Muay Thai
There are many benefits to practicing Muay Thai, including improved cardiovascular health, increased strength and flexibility, and better self-confidence. It is also a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health. The sport also emphasizes discipline, respect, and perseverance, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their physical and mental well-being.
Typical Muay Thai class
- Jumping rope (5-10 minutes)
- Shadow boxing (5 minutes)
- Techniques and drilling (20 minutes) *Pads or partner work*
- Bag work (15-20 minutes)
- Conditioning (10 minutes)
- Cool down and stretching (5 minutes)
A typical Muay Thai class is generally one hour to one hour and a half, although these times can vary slightly depending on the gym’s schedule. Muay Thai gyms will also have different sessions on different days, such as straight sparring days or even sessions that focus solely on strength and conditioning.
Class is generally held in a large open space with access to some heavy bags. Again, this is dependent on the gym and its own layout. Some gyms don’t do much pad work and prefer to drill with your partner which means you’ll be performing combinations and hitting your partner’s gloves and even kicking them with shinguards.
How to prepare for your first Muay Thai Class
1. Wear gym style clothes
I can assure you, you will sweat more than you ever have before. I recommend you also bring a towel and a spare shirt that you can throw on after class. Always wear comfortable, breathable gym style clothes that don’t restrict your movement and you don’t mind sweating excessively in. You won’t be wearing shoes as you always perform these classes barefoot but it is recommended you wear something that’s easy to take on and off such as flip flops.
2. Bring water and turn up hydrated
As you will be sweating profusely, you will need to drink a good amount of water to ensure you stay hydrated as being dehydrated can be quite detrimental to your health. Make sure the water isn’t too cold as your body absorbs water best at room temperature. Also, make sure you turn up to class hydrated. Try to have at least two litres of water during the day before your class.
3. Don’t eat too much before class
From personal experience, if you eat too much before an intense cardio session, I can assure you that you will throw up or feel like throwing up. I recommend your last meal to be at least two hours before your Muay Thai class but you can eat a snack 30-45 minutes beforehand such as a banana. Bananas are a great light energy source and they also contain magnesium which can help you avoid experiencing muscle cramps.
4. Show up early
Especially if you’re new, the worst thing you can do is show up late. You will want to show up at least 15 minutes beforehand so you can get acquainted before the start of your training session. This time window is also a good chance to build a relationship with fellow students and trainers.
Important Tips for Novices
1. Try multiple gyms
It is crucial that you shop around for a gym that best suits your needs and makes you feel comfortable. First impressions are everything, if the gym owner or trainers take the time to show you around the gym and give you a little extra attention on your first session, then that is a good sign. The vibe of the gym must also be something that you feel comfortable with.
2. Invest in quality gear and equipment
If you find a gym that suits you and you sign up, it is recommended that you invest in some quality gear and clothes. A good start is to purchase a pair of 16oz boxing gloves, shin guards, and a mouthguard.
3. Practice outside of class
Although you do learn quite a bit during class, practicing on your own outside of class goes a long way. You don’t need to go to a gym and a small space is sufficient. Practice your combos, do some extra stretching so you can kick easier, or even go for a run so you can improve your cardio.
4. Stretching is underrated
The best time to stretch is after a workout. Stretching after a workout not only helps with recovery and soreness but allows you to become more flexible which means you can kick higher. Try to make it a staple routine to stretch after every workout.
5. Be consistent
Whatever your goal is with Muay Thai, it is important that you remain consistent with your training schedule. Two to three sessions a week at minimum to ensure you are constantly improving skill wise or that you’re doing enough to stay on top of your weight loss goals.
It’s totally understandable to feel a little intimidated and the first couple of sessions can be quite tough. However, don’t let that discourage you. With time, your body will get used to the intensity and the training, and I’m sure you’ll make some friends along the way. My best piece of advice to you is to just continually show up, regardless of how tired you feel, and just enjoy the journey!