One of my first orders of business upon arrival in Thailand was to do a Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) class. It’s the national sport of Thailand, similar to baseball in the U.S. But, unlike baseball, there isn’t a whole lot of standing around, waiting for action to happen. This is a high-intensity, high-contact sport that requires A LOT of technique, proper form and incredible conditioning.
A friend we met at our guesthouse, Drew, invited us to tag along on a class he was taking at HongThong Muay Thai gym.
I’ve done my fair share of Billy Blank’s Tae Bo and All-American boxing classes, but I was not ready for this. We arrived at the gym in the late afternoon and this was waiting for us…
The gym was completely outdoors, amidst some gorgeous rose apple and mango trees, and the unrelenting heat and humidity of Northern Thailand this time of year. Before I knew it, about 10-15 other people had showed up, but not for an introductory class, these were professional or semi-professional Muay Thai fighters who were in training for upcoming fights. They were all shredded and had plenty of bruises from hours of hard training (not to mention very intimidating tattoos of dragons and other scary things). Drew, Manoj and I had just walked into a professional training session. The reality of the next two hours of our life had just sunk in. There was no backing out now!
The warm-up started with some jump rope and calisthenics. Next, our hands were wrapped up for boxing gloves and our instructors taught us a variety of techniques. Muay Thai is known as the “art of eight limbs” because the feet, knees, elbows and hands are used to strike the opponent. We learned 5 devastating moves (reverse punch, cross elbow, power knee, push kick and round kick) and spent the next HOUR pulverizing heavy bags with these techniques.
What I loved about the class was how much time was spent on proper technique and form. I noticed right away that slight changes in my feet and hand positions made all the difference in accuracy and strength when hitting the heavy bags.
Soon enough it was time to put my new skills to the test! I was put in the ring for three 2-minute rounds with my instructor (called Kru in Thai).
The instructors (both professional champions) were incredibly motivating, correcting form as I went along. They made the best sounds when I hit the pads like, “Wooooo weeeeee!!” For some reason, this really got me in the zone. When I was done, my legs were shaking, knees were skinned, and fists were a little bloody. I was a bit bruised up, but I liked it!
After the ring, we did even more heavy bag work, followed by push-ups and sit-ups. At the end of our class I was drenched in sweat, my knuckles were swollen, my legs aching and I felt great to have survived the pace and intensity of a professional workout. It also showed me how serious professional athletes are and how hard they work. I have a ways to go to get that level. Some of the ladies working out there are truly inspirational. The camaraderie and energy of HongThong was my favorite part of the class. I immediately felt like part of their community. To anyone in the area, I highly recommend checking out HongThong!
I can’t wait to go train Muay Thai again!
Go get your punch and kick on,
Party Smart. Sweat Smarter.