Fitness Cheat Sheet: What is Muay Thai?
By Wendy Toth
If you’ve ever seen Muay Thai style fight scenes in an action movie, you were probably awed by the graceful yet lethal-looking moves. Known as “the art of eight limbs,” this style uses eight points of contact on the body as weapons: the hands, elbows, shins and feet.
Then, you likely pictured yourself totally buff, kicking similar bad-guy ass. And finally, you forgot all about it, because you could never do that anyway, right?
According to Brandon Levi, founder and owner of Evolution Muay Thai in New York City, you can do Muay Thai, and you should.
“Muay Thai originated in Thailand about 1,000 years ago as a fight-sport,” he says. Today, the rules are very similar to those of boxing, except in Muay Thai kicking and throwing elbows and knees are part of the sport, not a penalty.
“Not only is it an excellent and practical form of self-defense, it is a phenomenal workout,” he says. Students who take up the sport for fun end up becoming fitter than they ever imagined.
Wear It…to Class
Dressing for Muay Thai is truly easy. You just need basic shorts and a T-shirt. But there is some gear involved, extremely cool-looking gear.
Levi recommends getting a pair of boxing gloves ($35 -$70) and hand wraps ($5 -$10). These will keep your hands safe when practicing a few rounds of striking a heavy bag.
Say It…For Motivation
Learning this art form is a truly engaging way to get fit. Muay Thai is one of the best weight-loss regimes around, says Levi. “I see students lose weight and tone up without even realizing it.”
Find It…Near You
First research Muay Thai in your area (Spafinder® Wellness can help) and go visit a handful that seem knowledgeable.
“Most Muay Thai schools break their classes into different levels,” says Levi. Observe a beginner class or see if they offer one that’s complimentary to make sure you’re comfortable with the teaching style.
“I always hear people say that they feel like they have to get fit before they come in,” says Levi. But that’s simply not the case.
First, Muay Thai is so unique that there isn’t much you can do to get fit, specifically, for these classes. Secondly, Muay Thai coaches are trained to push you, but with the understanding that each person can only work as hard as their individual ability allows.
Lastly, and probably most comfortingly for a newbie, “Beginners never actually fight each other, and the chance of getting hit is minimum.”
Here’s a complete list of SpaFinder partners offering Muay Thai. To search for one near you, just enter your zip code in the box to the left.
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