– Dragon Muay Thai, Chalong, Phuket, Thailand
– Cost: 300 THB (£6.00)
– Time: 7:00 to 9:00 (but actually ended at 8:45)
Before attending my first Muay Thai session, I had tried my best to figure out what it would be like, and to get a rough idea of the other people attending. Chalong, where all the Muay Thai camps and other fitness businesses are based, is full of serious people with the intention of getting fit, and the majority are already fit. I was here for a new experience and to try and enjoy it. I was not fully prepared, arriving with no of my equipment, as gym classes in England normally have gloves etc. to borrow. I borrowed some Tiger Muay Thai gloves of my friend, and bought myself some hand wraps (300 THB (£6.00) from local stores), which is the bare minimum required. It would help to have shine guards for kicking, and a mouth guard and head protection for sparring in the afternoon classes or if you have the opportunity in the morning class. The first class I saw in practice looked very serious and prepared with their own equipment (making me concerned about participating), the second looked amateur (and therefore more suitable to what I required). I took the opportunity to do my first class on Friday morning.
I woke up early Friday morning, and walked down to Dragon Muay Thai. I didn’t want to appear too eager so arrived at 6:55 to sign up and do a few stretches beforehand. My friend said it is likely to not have many people as it is Friday, and many give up towards the end of the week. It was VERY quiet. At 7:00, it was just me and three instructors in the workout area. I was told in broken English to jog around the area to warm up. As it got later more instructors arrived, and it was just me jogging laps of a 10 metre squared workout area, while several instructors just sat down and played on their phones or watched. At 7:15, as I struggle to keep jogging, I hope every noise is a sign from an instructor to stop or do something else. No. n the positive side I am thinking it would be great value for money to have multiple instructors for my own Muay Thai education. Close to 7:20, two other guys arrived, and started jogging laps with me. The jogging stopped at 7:30, I was already a broken man with another 90 minutes of the class left. My first lesson learned, is to not arrive on time next time.
After the warm-up, there was now four of us in the class. The next step was stretching, as we all sat on the floor and copied the instructor’s stretches, where he clapped when we were required to go into the next stretch. It was time to get the hand-wraps on and start the punching and kicking. The first obstacle was getting the hand wraps on. I had used hand wraps in classes many years ago back in England, however I had been doing it wrong. One of the instructors took the time to do it for me, using a method that wrapped the knuckles with several layers, and then intertwining between all fingers and finishing with a few wraps of my wrists. I also got out my friends gloves, a slightly embarrassing moment of wearing gloves branded with the gyms biggest and most hated competitor, Tiger Muay Thai.
Now it was time for the Muay Thai to start. With only four people in the class, we all had one instructor each to do the pad-work for us. It started with simple combinations, along with being given tips on our footwork. It was informative with us all getting the attention of an individual trainer, as well as one main instructor for the whole group. The instructors were all very serious with teaching us technique, but always laughed at us when we got it wrong, or didn’t follow instructions properly, this was sometimes hard with their basic English. One of the exercises, the four of us were put in two pairs, and we worked on ducking and moving together, almost like dancing with boxing gloves on.
Feeling like Rocky, we then got into the boxing ring. The four of us each had a corner each with our instructor, while the move the pads, and kept moving around and telling us to kick, elbow, punch or upper-cut at each move. This was great fun being in a boxing ring, and the cockiness of the instructor kept me motivated to punch and kick harder and faster despite the increasing Thai heat. I was hoping my friend would pass by to take some photos of me in action, but no such luck. Unfortunately we only had about fifteen minutes in the ring, this was the most fun part of the class.
The last section of the Muay Thai part of the class was bag work, where we all simultaneously did 10 or 20 reps of different combinations, this took the last bit of energy out of me. Especially one rep where we were kneeing the bag continuously, and almost ended up like skipping while holding a bag.
We finished with stretches very similar to the start of the class, and shaking the hands of the instructors, before walking away from the gym with adrenaline running through my body, and sore shins from the numerous, repetitive kicks.
I got back to my room, did some work on my abs (trying to create some). I then went on my phone to update my status with my pride and pain after this experience, and it appeared as if raindrops were hitting the screen? But I’m inside? I was dripping with sweat.
A 2 hour Muay Thai class before breakfast.
I’m going to be aching by lunch time.