Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is a form of hand-to-hand combat originating in Thailand that dates back centuries. This fighting style is often referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs,” as eight points of the body are used to attack an opponent—the fists, elbows, knees, and feet.
Originally devised for the battlefield, Muay Thai has now been popularised all over the world as a great way to work up a sweat while feeling like a badass. There are plenty of other reasons to pick up Muay Thai, according to the experts at the largest Muay Thai gym in Hong Kong.
Splitting your workouts to focus on different muscle groups can be beneficial if you’re trying to bulk up, but doing exercises that utilise muscles from multiple groups is especially effective for those looking to get lean. Muay Thai fighting activates muscles all over the body as you kick, punch, hook, and twist around the ring.
In addition to strengthening your muscles, Muay Thai training can also increase bone density. The continuous impact of your shins and forearms on the training pads and punching bags can result in microfractures, which your body will repair. It might sound scary, but it is a completely normal phenomenon that happens even during regular exercise—the soreness you feel after a workout is due to micro-abrasions in your muscles, which are healed with protein to become stronger than before. Similarly, with consistent training, your bones will adapt and become denser and hence stronger.
Having a strong core isn’t just about aesthetics; core muscles are extremely important for every movement you make. They are what keeps you upright, and if your core is weak you are more susceptible to injuries of the back, shoulders, hips, and knees. The core muscles consist of 35 different muscle groups all along your torso, plus your glutes. Muay Thai training activates the major muscles in the core as the source of punching power, as opposed to just punching with your arm. A good punch makes use of the legs and core to push your arm out—that’s why those little muscles between your ribs hurt after a good session. A strong core is also essential for good posture and balance.
Weightlifters and avid gym-goers often complain of decreased flexibility, the reason being that the extra bulk causes a decrease in the range of motion—your muscles literally get in the way. Muay Thai fighters are often lean, as the motions required involve plenty of extension rather than contraction. For example, you punch out and kick forwards instead of curling a barbell up. This creates longer muscle fibers that builds strength without the bulk. There is also a lot of twisting involved—a punch starts from the feet, pass the hips, and then into your arms, and when you land the punch your body is fully extended from your toes to your fists. You can become a lean, mean, fighting machine.
Cardio gets your blood pumping and burns calories, which is the first step towards fat loss. It can also improve cardiovascular health, as well as your mood. However, you can’t just do cardio. Strength training is also essential for a stronger and healthier body. Combining the two types of exercise is key—cardio blasts fat while strength training builds muscle, which will in turn support fat burning. A Muay Thai session can get your heart rate up while forcing your muscles to get stronger, so you get the best of both worlds.
As long as you have determination, you can do Muay Thai! There are classes especially for kids, women-only classes, and one-on-one training, depending on what you’re looking for. The sport is simple enough that anyone can learn—in Thailand, kids start training when they’re as young as five years old. The techniques themselves are also quite simple, so all you need is an experienced instructor to show you the ropes, then it is up to you to build up your skill level.
You’re always in control of how intense of a workout you get, which is great if you’re just starting out. No matter your fitness level, you can still adjust the difficulty level to suit your needs. The instructors are there to help you with maintaining good form, and while they might be scary in the ring, they’re usually really nice and friendly people!
Hanuman Thai Boxing & Fitness Centre is the oldest and largest Muay Thai gym in Hong Kong, and the only one with authentic Thai trainers. Located in Hung Hom, Hanuman is a one-stop fitness solution gym with over 7,500 square feet of space, and classes from early morning until late evening. In addition to Muay Thai training, Hanuman also offers a wide variety of fitness classes that you can add to your exercise regimen. The classes offered include yoga, core training, conditioning, dance, Zumba, strengthening, kids’ fitness, bootcamp, and Queenfit. Click here to learn more about their class schedule and membership plans.