Muay Thai is a form of kickboxing partially made popular by the rise of MMA. Muay Thai fighters are very fit individuals, but can somebody who is out of shape start Muay Thai classes at their local gym without working on their fitness first?
You can start taking Muay Thai classes even if you are overweight or out of shape. Muay Thai drilling and fundamentals are approachable for somebody looking to take their first class. Consistently training Muay Thai can build general fitness and reach weight loss goals.
Now that we know that you can start classes without first getting into shape, let’s take a look at some of the other factors that come into play when considering getting started in Muay Thai.
Do You Need to Be Fit for Muay Thai?
Having good fitness is required for almost any combat sport and Muay Thai is no exception. Building up your general fitness capacity will go a long way towards helping your performance when you are training Muay Thai.
If you are nervous about doing Muay Thai for the first time due to your fitness, try to internalize the fact that even people who are in shape will feel similarly nervous and unsure with their movements because the movements of Muay Thai are new and untrained. Because the movements are untrained, even fit people will end up pretty tired at the end of training.
Do You Need to Be Strong for Muay Thai?
Muay Thai fighters need to build explosive strength to maximize their performance when they are fighting. This explosive strength combined with speed and technique is what translates into knock-out power in this striking discipline.
Some of this strength can be built through Muay Thai training, but the classes are mostly there to teach you how to use your attributes most effectively through good technique.
That being said, attributes are not required to get started in Muay Thai.
Adding in a strength training program to complement your Muay Thai training is critical. Take a look here to see an example of a workout that you could use to build that explosive strength when performed with controlled speed and power. This can help a fighter perform well in a Muay Thai context.
Do You Need to Be Flexible for Muay Thai?
Muay Thai has a high flexibility requirement to reach a high level of performance. Having proper mobility and flexibility will both mitigate some injury risk and maximize your ability to strike more parts of the body with higher power output.
Beginners do not need to start out with good flexibility, and normal classes will add significantly to overall flexibility anyway.
Working on your dynamic movements to increase mobility is one of the most valuable types of supplemental training that you can do to improve your Muay Thai performance.
How Hard is Muay Thai to Learn?
Muay Thai is easy to pick up for most students. Most beginners will look awkward for a few months as they learn how to move and how to execute basic punches, elbows, knees, and kicks. Within 2 to 3 months you can expect to be reasonably proficient at Muay Thai basics.
If you are just looking to learn enough to get through Muay Thai fitness classes at your local gym, you will likely reach a point of feeling more comfortable after just a few weeks since these classes are designed to be simple and prioritize building fitness over skill.
What to Expect in Your First Muay Thai Class
Your first Muay Thai class will likely be more basic than in future classes. You will likely follow through the warm-up and get through the drilling basics that commonly happen afterward and make a good faith attempt at more complex sequences. You should not spar in your first class.
Try not to be concerned about your performance in early classes since you will be working on those same fundamental movements at every class going forward until it lives in your muscle memory.
Check this post out if you want to do more reading about what to expect at your first Muay Thai class.
A Muay Thai class at a typical school might look like this:
- Warm-up: fast-paced basic calisthenics or jogging to get warm.
- Drilling Basic Striking: practicing basic striking sequences and movements.
- Technique Sequences of the Day: instructor-led striking combinations and movements.
- Drilling Techniques: partnered up drills to learn striking combinations and movements.
- Live Sparring: light to moderate intensity sparring. Catching strikes and trips and usually acceptable in these classes.
What to Wear to Your First Muay Thai Class
Speak to the school in order to get an idea of what clothing and equipment to bring to your first class. Typically you will only be expected to bring yourself and wear gym clothes. If you have workout clothing that does not have pockets that is better since then nothing can get caught in pockets.
Muay Thai is a wonderful striking-based martial art that is accessible to most people, regardless of fitness level. Getting started in Muay Thai is relatively easy and you can reach a reasonable level of proficiency in just a few months of consistent training.
In my experience, Muay Thai gym culture is very supportive and will quickly level up your fitness through simply attending classes regularly.
For more information and comparative tables on combat sports check out Do You Need to Be Fit to Start Combat Sports?