As a Muay Thai beginner, being armed with some preliminary advice will help you make the most out of your time, money and effort. So whether your current focus in training Muay Thai is recreational or competitive, here are some guidelines to help you begin.
1. Assess Your Fitness Levels
Before you start training in Muay Thai, really be honest about your current fitness level. You don’t have to be in top shape to begin training Muay Thai. Rather, it’s important to understand your strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement to better help you find the training that’s right for you.
2. Research Gyms
Not all gyms are suited for all people, regardless of how remarkable a gym’s reputation. With this in mind, research Muay Thai gyms via word of mouth, online and visit them before making a decision. Take a drop in class if they’re offered and try a few gyms out.
What you want to look for is a gym that supports your personality type, your current fitness level and your goals. For example, if your goal is to compete in Muay Thai, ensure that the gym genuinely promotes their fighters and has the connections needed to take you where you want to go.
If you’re interested in training recreationally and you’re a newbie to fitness in general, ensure you’ll receive adequate attention in training and won’t be left behind. Some gyms focus predominately on their fighters and competition, while others offer a variety of classes for all levels and are interested in teaching Muay Thai regardless if someone wants to compete. Each gym has its own culture; find one that resonates with you.
Trust your intuition. If everything in a gym seems to fit what you’re looking for but you still have a sense that something is off, listen to it. If you have other options in your area, investigate them. If you don’t and/or you decide to go with a gym despite your intuition telling you otherwise, maintain an open mind. Meaning, don’t write your negative feelings off, temper them and see where things lead.
In retrospect, when I first began training Muay Thai in Toronto, I ended up at a gym where, despite what everyone else I knew who trained at this gym said in favour of the owner / head trainer, I had a less than positive feeling about him. I expressed this to the people who recommended him and they convinced me that I was wrong. In time, the feelings increased and ultimately after a couple of years and thousands of dollars spent at his gym, everything I felt was confirmed to the extent that I willingly lost months of training fees to leave the gym and train at a competing one.
3. Be Kind to Yourself (And Others)
Muay Thai is a sport that requires a lot of skill and conditioning. Building on both will take time. Be patient with yourself and refrain from expecting too much of yourself too soon. Aim for a little better each day and you’ll reach your goals without the self-defeating talk that will sabotage them.
Additionally, it’s equally important to be patient with those you train with, including your training partners. Sometimes your trainers and partners may frustrate you. This is normal and it’s best to take it all in stride. People improve at different rates and each person can learn from another, even if the lesson learned is patience itself. Patience is an important skill in competition and it increases your overall mental strength.
4. Eat Well and Get the Rest You Need
As Muay Thai is a physically demanding sport, it’s important that you respect your body and give it the nourishment it needs to recover and build upon. Eat balanced meals loaded with whole foods and avoid processed foods heavy with refined sugar and chemicals.
You may notice you need to eat more; this is normal. However, your increased appetite could sabotage your training goals if you don’t fuel and refuel your body with the right foods. Even if your aim is to increase your weight, you’ll recover and repair more efficiently, perform better in training, and look and feel overall better when you eat nutrient rich, unprocessed foods. Sleep is equally as important in recovery and post training gains so ensure you get the hours you need.
5. Have Fun
Training should rarely be a chore and when it feels like one, the sentiment often sabotages your goals (not to mention your life outside of training). Have fun while training efficiently at the gym. See the humour in the mistakes you’re bound to make acquiring new skills. You perform better when relaxed. You’re also less apt to injure yourself (and others).
Training Muay Thai offers you the ability to increase your mental and physical strength, learn a variety of new skills, develop an understanding of your body you didn’t have before, while being in the company of people who are at different levels doing the same.
Enjoy the process.