Some of you may have read one of my oldest blog posts where I write about how I discovered Muay Thai. It’s been over two years now and I’m loving it more than ever. It’s been a bit of an up down relationship, but then again, which relationship isn’t? So I thought it may be the right time to reflect on my Muay Thai journey so far and share it with you. Even if you never have and never will consider doing Muay Thai yourself I think there is something to take away in this for everyone.
Starting Muay Thai over two years ago was the result of circumstance. It wasn’t really a dream or something on my bucket list. It just happened that the gym I joined, because it appealed to me most, is a fighter’s gym. There are daily classes in Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai besides fitness classes that focus on strength and cardio conditioning. And as I described back then, Muay Thai looked scary! Fit, sweaty guys punching and kicking, the air filled with moisture and testosterone. The sound of punches and kicks hitting the pads was overwhelming.
Now, I could have (and many unfortunately do) just walked back out and looked for another gym. With classes that were more familiar to me – the classic bodypump, spinning, and aerobics classes. But I told myself to give it a go – take a few fitness classes, start working out again in the gym, get stronger and fitter. So I did. And after a few weeks I was ready to give Muay Thai a go. It just looked like fun. And what could make me feel stronger and fiercer than kicking and punching pads and bags?
I started with taking one on one sessions. I think that was a good move and is something I would recommend to anyone who decides to take up any kind of exercise. If it’s your first time in the weights section of the gym, if it’s your first tennis lesson – it doesn’t matter, I think a one on one helps tremendously when you’re a beginner. First, you don’t need to feel embarrassed about not having a clue, since there is nobody else around except for your trainer. You can ask all the questions you want. The trainer has time and the expertise to explain to you what you need to know. You learn the proper technique right from the start. This cannot be underestimated since it is much harder to correct bad technique or habits that you have picked up later on. And you avoid potential injury. Slowly but surely you will build the confidence to join a class if that’s what you want.
I loved it. It certainly wasn’t easy at the beginning either. I couldn’t even properly skip rope! There is new technique to learn, movements I had never done in my life before. And having been brought up as a typical girl in a middle class environment in decent schools, I felt reluctant to punch and kick anything or anyone. But it felt so good! It’s better than therapy. You feel stressed? Angry? Sad? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Take it out on a punching bag. Believe me, you forget everything while you focus on your punches and kicks, and afterwards, sweaty and hot and out of breath, you will feel calm and ready to face whatever life throws at you. Your children, your partner, your family will thank you for it.
Once I had gained some practice in my one on one sessions, I joined group classes. Ladies Muay Thai classes and Muay Thai technique classes. I was far from good. But I had a basic understanding of how I was supposed to do things – punches, kicks, knees, elbows. I have been doing this for over two years now, and I am still learning. I’m not one of those naturally gifted athletes that can take up anything and master it within a short time. I’m not a great mover, which is not helped by my height. But I stuck with it and improved my technique along the way.
It hasn’t always been easy and fun. Sometimes you have bad days. Sometimes you have a trainer who just doesn’t gel with you. The trick is to keep going. So many times I was ready to throw the gloves in the bin, thinking I would never get any better, feeling frustrated with myself. Well, I haven’t yet and I’m so happy about it. After all, even slow progress is still progress. And it’s not like this is my professional career. I will never have a proper fight in a ring (I think). But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have ambitions to improve, I still want to be the best I can be. I just started taking one on one sessions again with a fantastic trainer because I love how it makes me feel. Strong! Confident! Happy!
What I am trying to say here is this: Don’t feel intimated if something is new or looks scary. Give it a go. Go slow at the beginning, get the best tuition you can get, invest time and effort to learn. And then keep doing it even if there are times when you feel like giving up. Make sure your goals are reasonable and realistic. Most of all, enjoy it!
On my instagram graciousandstrong you can find plenty of photos and videos of myself and my amazing trainers doing Muay Thai!