Finding just the right Muay Thai gym for you is as much about your personal goals as it is about the gym itself.
Start by establishing a clear picture of what you want to achieve. Do you want to get fit? Lose weight? Refine your technique with one-to-one training? Do you want to fight professionally or just learn basic self-defence and some new skills?
Here are some tips on choosing the right Muay Thai gym for you, focusing on the must-haves whether you're a beginner just looking to get fit, or a practised fighter who wants to make the absolute most of your training time.
1) The Right Equipment for Strength Training and Cardio Conditioning
Effective strength training is essential for things like flexibility and fighting power, so look first for items like free weights – dumbells and barbells with slip-on weights which will accommodate all strength levels. A chin-up bar is also very useful as it will help condition the biceps and back muscles for stronger clinch and grappling.
On site cardio isn't quite as important, but minimum facilities should be available for warm-up before training. Treadmills and exercise bikes are always useful but you will get just as much benefit from skipping rope for 5-10 minutes, doing push-ups or going for a short, high-intensity run. A good gym should have enough space available on the floor for on- the-spot warm-ups.
2) The Right Fight Training Equipment
Hanging bags are an essential part of a Muay Thai gym, with the long (or 'banana') bag a good all-round training tool which can be used for low kicks along with all other strike types. Kick shields and pads should also be available. Good quality bags and pads will properly absorb the force of kicks and punches, for safer and more comfortable strike practice.
3) A Boxing Ring
Every good Muay Thai gym will have a boxing ring. It's a vital part of effective fight training – pad work and sparring on the floor will only get you so far. A ring, even a smaller one, is important for learning how to move and become dominant inside the fighting space.
4) Staff Expertise and Availability
Take some time to research the background of who is running the Muay Thai gym – are they a professional fighter with at least a decade of training and competition experience, or just an enthusiastic amateur hoping to turn a profit?
Start by checking the website. Also come prepared with some questions, to gauge their enthusiasm and depth of knowledge. What level of instruction do you require? One-to-one, or if you are just wanting to get fit, will group classes be enough? Also make sure the Muay Thai gym will be open when you can train – whether it's mornings, evenings or on the weekend.
When you visit a Muay Thai gym, also pay attention to its clients, talking to one or two if you get the opportunity. Are they casual visitors, or longer-term customers who are serious about training hard and often? The attitudes of the staff will usually be reflected in those of the people who come in.
Whatever your needs and aspirations, keep these basics in mind when looking for a Muay Thai gym and you're less likely to waste time and money on training that doesn't help you reach your goals.
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