What you need for your first Muay Thai session
Updated: Feb 5
Going to your first Muay Thai session can be a daunting experience and if you’ve never been before, you’ll not know what to expect.
Your first class will be rough on your body and you’ll feel the aches and pains for the next few days after your class but as you continue to attend classes your body will adjust and you’ll start feeling less and less pain.
A lot of Muay Thai sessions will generally involve you holding the pads, as well as hitting the pads with a partner who is also in the training session, whereas some other martial arts, such as boxing, you’ll generally not hold pads, but start on a bag before moving onto hitting the pads with a trainer.
What is Muay Thai?
Muay Thai, also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs”, is a traditional Martial Art that originated in Thailand all the way back in the 18th century. A lot of people generally refer to it as Thai Boxing.
Muay Thai is referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science of Eight Limbs”, because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight “points of contact”. This is of course opposed to “two points” (fists) in boxing and “four points” (hands and feet) used in other more regulated combat sports, such as kickboxing. A practitioner of Muay Thai is known as a nak muay.
What will a typical Muay Thai class involve?
All Muay Thai classes should start with a warm up, depending on the gym you go to and their training methods, your warm up may differ. A Muay Thai warm up will generally start with skipping 5 - 10 minutes, which will then be followed up with light stretching to help ensure you stretch your muscles properly before the session and then a round of shadow boxing before the class begins.
Once the class begins, you’ll usually be divided into partners who you will train with, and then you will both work over a number of rounds performing pad drills as instructed by the coach instructing the class. After the pad drills, you’ll likely end the class with 10-15 minutes of intense cardio before a cool down and more stretching.
A typical class is anywhere from one hour to one hour and a half, of course this can be slightly more or less depending on your gyms schedule.
Muay Thai classes can be held in a variety of spaces depending on your gym size, some gyms do bag or pad work depending on the layout.
Things you need to be prepared for your first class
Wear gym style clothes which allow for flexibility
It’s always a good idea to ensure you wear comfortable gym style clothes when attending a Muay Thai class. I would always recommend wearing shorts to allow for flexibility, and if you can get Muay Thai shorts then even better.
It’s also a good idea to bring a towel to the gym, you will sweat a lot during your Muay Thai training. Don’t worry about shoes because chances are you won’t be wearing them.
Ensure you have something to drink
During your Muay Thai class, you will sweat a lot, so it’s very important to remember to bring a drink to the class, ideally water, to help ensure you stay hydrated during your Muay Thai training session. Your body absorbs water best at room temperature, so making sure that water bottle is full and not too hot or cold.
Show up early
Don’t just arrive on time, make sure to show up early to your first Muay Thai class. This is important to start a good relationship with the instructor and will give you the proper amount of time to get acquainted before you start your training session. You never want to be late for a training session in general as it’s complete disrespect of your fellow students and your instructors time.
Don’t eat too much before the class
This is important because you don’t want to throw up during your first Muay Thai class. Although it may not matter if you eat or not beforehand, it’s still very much a possibility that you’re going to throw up depending on how much cardio is involved. If you’re not someone who is very active then the possibility of getting sick during your first Muay Thai class is high.
I recommend eating one or two bananas 30-45 minutes before class starts, this will give you the energy needed for class, bananas also help cramps.
Things I wish I knew before my first Muay Thai class
As you continue to attend Muay Thai classes, you’ll learn one thing, and that’s that you never stop learning, but here’s a few things that I’ve learnt over my years of training that I wish I knew before my first ever class.
Muay Thai shorts really are a massive benefit
You may think you look like a bit of an idiot wearing them, but Muay Thai shorts really do make kicking much easier, and they are far more comfortable to wear during training than any other shorts or pants.
Finding the right gym can take some time
Just because it’s the first gym you’ve attended, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only gym you can attend. All gym owners take different approaches to how they train their students and also not all gym owners have extensive knowledge to pass across to their students.
You want to find a gym where the coach, and the students are all willing to help you progress and improve in your Muay Thai skills.
Clinching may not be fun, but it’s very important
You may hate Muay Thai clinching to start with, it’s extremely hard work and can lead to a sore neck and shoulder after the sessions - but it’s an extremely important skill-set in Muay Thai, and that’s why in Thailand, they ensure their fighters train clinching every day.
Not all gyms teach clinching however, mostly only traditional Muay Thai gyms or authentic MMA gyms teach it. Clinching is one of those positions that can give you a superior advantage to your opponent if they don’t have the same experience as you. The clinch is also one of the best positions to throw a knee or position yourself for a takedown, don’t neglect it.
Continue to practice kicks daily
Getting the hang of throwing a Muay Thai kick properly can be tricky, but the best way to learn is to practice, practice and practice again. I highly suggest kicking a heavy bag at least 100 times a day (both legs). However make sure to ease into it, you don’t want to end up like me (with bruised shins after my FIRST practice).
For beginners I’d suggest 3-5 kicks with a leg, then switch. Once you hit your goal, let’s call it 100 kicks for beginners, your legs should be tired and slightly sore.
Flexibility is key, don’t forget to stretch
This is so important, never forget to stretch after a hard workout (lifting or Muay Thai). Stretching relieves stress on your muscles as well as allowing you to become much more flexible. The most flexible you are, the higher your kicks will be. Stretching regularly also lowers your chances of getting any type of injury or soreness. Rule of thumb is: stretch 3 times a day to become more flexible, and 2 times a day to maintain your flexibility.
Over the years, something I always hear from people who want to start training is "I'll wait until I get fit first", and the reality is they just never get started.
Take the plunge and head to your first Muay Thai class as soon as you can, fitness and technique will grow over time and I've no doubt that you'll find a new hobby that you not only love, but will improve your life!