So you’ve decided you want to take up Muay Thai or Kickboxing and you have begun to search for gyms near you. It’s exciting to try something new, but where do you start and what do you look for in a gym? If you are new to martial arts or the last time you look a martial art you were in the little dragons karate program, you probably have a lot of questions and are not sure which are the right ones to ask. So how do you go about finding the right Muay Thai gym?
What is your reason for wanting to learn Muay Thai?
Get Clear About Your “Why”
I suggest that the first thing you ask yourself is, “Why do you want to take up Muay Thai?” Take some time to sit down and write down your reasons. Do you want to lose some weight or increase edurance? Do you want more confidence? Are you just interested in self defense or do you want to learn to spar and have plans to compete in the sport one day? If you don’t have specific reasons that’s ok too, sometimes people want to start a martial art simply because they want to try something new. Maybe you know you should be active to be healthy but clocking thirty minutes on the treadmill at 24 Hour Fitness followed by a half-hearted trip to the free weights area surrounded by grunting people wearing headphones just isn’t doing it for you anymore. That’s a good reason too.
This picture, taken three years after I started training; my cheeks still look chubby, and it reminds me of being new to the sport 🙂
Do you remember all your fears about the first day of a new high school or college? Worrying if you could find the right class room, wondering if you were overdressed, under-dressed, or had even picked the right image to present yourself to your new classmates. Always checking your schedule, trying to figure out where to sit, trying to decide if you should raise your hand or not in class. Looking around the room and wondering who would be a good person to talk to and become friends with, wondering if you were cool enough to be their friend. Well thank God that’s over for me, and for most of you, but I like to remember that feeling because it can be a little like the first day of school for people when they walk into a Muay Thai gym for the first time.
If you have been in the fight scene for a while, you forget what it was like when you first started. For a newbie, instructors, fighters, and other students are intimidating. Muay Thai traditions are completely foreign. You don’t know a Thai pad from a kick pad, Thai oil smells funny, three minutes of jump rope feels like an eternity, and you have no idea how to take 180 inches of fabric and somehow with what seems like 37 different twists and turns, wrap it neatly around your hand without either cutting off your circulation or having the whole wrap fall apart after the warm-up.
At my gym, I try to make beginners feel comfortable and explain to them all the things they will need to know before they move on to the mixed level classes, but I will probably always fall short. It’s so hard to remember all the things beginners don’t know because it’s been so long since I was one.