I love martial arts.
Not only is it a great way to push your limits, but you’ll get to work your flexibility and cardio. And if you combine martial arts with resistance training you’ll get a great all round workout. Martial arts is also great for the social life, and I’ve met some great friends in the gyms I’ve frequented.
My interest in martial arts started early, and as a teenager I trained Taekwondo and did OK. I never excelled since I never been the most flexible guy on the block. Then sadly the university and my Silicon Valley career got in the way. So my martial arts training was put on ice.
It was not until my 30s that I rediscovered martial arts. I visited a MMA gym in San Francisco and immediately got hooked on Muay Thai. Muay Thai means “Thai Boxing” and is pretty much the national sport of Thailand.
As it happened, my first destination after leaving corporate America was Thailand, hence I started Muay Thai training in Thailand very seriously. Usually six times per week. And I was lucky to find this awesome small family gym, that was frequented mostly by professional fighters.
Over the span of 2 years, I must have trained in four or five different gyms in Thailand. Consequently I believe I’ve accumulated a bit of knowledge about Muay Thai training in thailand and how to select a good gym. Hence I decided to write this guide.
First let’s talk about the trainers. And man, I’ve seen many types of trainers in gyms around Thailand. Ranging from lazy to outright incompetent. The worst types are the ones that stop paying attention after you paid and locked yourself in for a month.
But I’ve also met many excellent trainers that know their trade and are eager to mentor you.
When I’m trying out a new gym, I never lock myself into a longer membership until I tried a few drop-in sessions first. Even better, if you have the time, go and watch a few sessions before paying anything. Observe how much time the trainers allocate to each student. Do they seem to know their trade?
I have opt out of some gyms after I studied the trainers and the training session from the sideline.
First of all, the gyms in Thailand should have plenty of bags that somewhat matches the number of students. I hate waiting for my bag time.
In addition they also need different types of bags (heavy, light and in between). Walk around and try them out. Are the bags in front of a large mirror? Sometimes I like to check my form in the mirrors.
Finally, other equipment I need are jump ropes, a basic weight lifting area, water (should be free) and an area with clean mats for stretching. I’ve seen dirty gyms with no stretching space. Yuck.
Group training is not my thing. It made sense outside Thailand where there are less qualified trainers. But in Thailand there are plenty of them, and all serious gyms should offer a lot of individual padwork. I never join a gym unless there’s at least five rounds of individual padwork with my own trainer.
In addition, does the gym offer clinching classes? Sparring? All serious gyms in Thailand offers them, and the trainers should supervise and give feedback during and after. Proper warmup? Does the trainers supervise your bagwork and shadowboxing, and give feedback? These are all important items for Muay Thai training in Thailand.
Sit in on a session and watch.
What type of people frequents the gym? I prefer to be around hardworking people, and not some random tourist that only go 50%. At my favorite Bangkok gym, most students are there to prepare for a fight in Thailand. I am not professional but I like the serious attitude about that gym.
Surround yourself with hardworking people. Applies for all parts of life not only in the gym.
It’s not expensive to train in Thailand. In my favorite Bangkok gym the monthly price is around $120. This gives you one training session Monday to Saturday. It’s a bit more if you want to train both in the mornings and the afternoons.
That’s about it. If you have other advice to share please write them in the comment section.
In closing, Muay Thai training in thailand is a life changing experience. If you select the right gym, you’ll get insight in an environment that not many foreigners get to see. And you’ll likely meet many new friends. Some of them for life.
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