Be Fit Be Fly Founder Latoya Taitt decided to take off her shoes and try out Muay Thai at Tang Muay Thai Martial Arts in Albany, NY. Along the way, she gained insight on how to make the best of her first Muay Thai experience–and wants to share it with you. Here are her 7 tips.
What if I told you that you can learn self-defense tactics, challenge your mind and body, join a community, and forge new friendships, all while torching calories with a great workout?
Well, I found it all while learning Muay Thai at Tang Muay Thai Martial Arts.
My very first challenge before attending my first class was pronouncing the words, Muay Thai. Now, say it with me, moo-wee tie.
According to Wikipedia, Muay Thai is a combat sport that “uses punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes”. After spending an evening at Tang Muay Thai Martial Arts, I quickly learned why Muay Thai is also known as “the art (or science) of eight limbs”: It uses eight points of contact.
Before attending the class, I was growing more nervous because I was not sure of what to expect. I had so many questions: What would the class be like? What should I wear? Will I be able to keep up with the class? Should I get in better shape first?
Here are tips to help you prepare for your first Muay Thai class and enjoy every second of it:
Tip #1: Do Your Research
The website and social media page will provide information about the class, instructor, and may display posts, videos, reviews and testimonials from students that will give you insight into the class. Social media posts will also show the personality of the school, the class, instructors and students. They provide clues about how the class will progress.
By watching videos on Tang Muay Thai Martial Arts Facebook page, I knew that it was a solid and disciplined school where I can really learn and develop as an athlete. It helped acquaint me with the space, the class, the instructors while observing the instructor’s teaching style, and the overall structure of the class.
Tip #2: Call Ahead
Contact the school and connect with the instructor, if possible, prior to attending your first class. There may be a preferred class, day or time that the school recommends that first-timers should attend. I reached out to the instructor, Jeremy Hunt, before attending class and he patiently answered my questions, eased my nervousness and offered several suggestions that helped me prepare and set expectations before attending my first class.
Tip #3: Arrive Early and Observe
Arrive to class early in order to prepare and acclimate yourself for class. This is your opportunity to talk to the instructor in person and meet the other students. When I arrived at Tang Muay Thai Martial Arts, I was warmly greeted by name and with a bow. I learned that the bow is a sign of respect and should be used in class when addressing the instructor and other students in the class.
Many of the students were already there warming up by stretching, jumping rope or shadow boxing. It was easy to see that it was not a beginners only class. Many of the students were mixed levels, varying from advanced beginner, to intermediate and advanced levels. The group was focused, disciplined and ready to get started.
Jeremy began the class with a warmup of simple exercises like jumping jacks, crunches, push ups, and burpees that had us all dripping in total sweat.
We partnered up and Jeremy began to describe and demonstrate a jab, cross combination. The ease, grace, and fluidity with how he executed the moves definitely did not translate in the same way in my own movement. With continued practice over time, I am sure that my movements will improve and become more fluid.
Once the class seemed to have mastered the combination, Jeremy would add additional moves. He continued this practice for the duration of the class, challenging all students both physically and mentally despite the varying levels of experience.
Tip #4: Jump Right In and Give Your 100%
Be open minded and ready to give your all. Embodying judgement-free environment, the camaraderie at Tang Muay Thai Martial Arts made me feel comfortable to explore and try everything. There was not much standing around or just watching. Everyone was focused and working hard at their own best effort while pushing themselves to improve.
Jeremy was extremely observant and walked around to each group to answer questions, offered suggestions, provide additional instruction and support. He even took me aside to show me a few basics such as position, stance, and bouncing on the toes.
Tip #5: Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothes
You will want to wear loose and comfortable clothing that you can move easily in. Tight clothing or harsh fabrics that irritates your skin is not the best to wear during class. These restrict your ability to move, bend, stretch, punch or kick AND is not ideal.
Also, you will be barefoot in class.As a beginner, you may feel a bit uneasy about exercising without socks and shoes. There are many benefits to being barefoot such as better balance, improved posture and circulation and helps avoid injury, according to Evolution Muay Thai in NYC.
Tip #6: Stay Hydrated
No doubt about it, you will get a GREAT workout. Be sure to bring a towel and a water bottle. Feel free to take breaks when needed.
Tip #7: Be Patient with Yourself
Tang Muay Thai Martial Arts is a very friendly environment to learn as a beginner. Even the most advanced student started as a beginner. You are your only competition, and in class, you constantly challenge yourself to improve your previous effort.
Learning something new is challenging. At times, I felt a bit awkward and uncoordinated.The very thought of hitting or kicking my workout buddy, Sara, was a bit uncomfortable. But the more I practiced the move over and over again, the more I grew confident. I often had to verbally repeat the combination moves to execute them.
Jab… Cross… Hook… Back knee.. Reset!
Jab… Cross… Uppercut… Knee… Reset!
Muay Thai is for any and EVERY body. Try a class or attend a private one-on-one lesson to build your knowledge of the foundational basics. You do not have to wait to be in better shape to try Muay Thai. Get started and you will get in better shape in a short period of time.
Muay Thai offers many benefits. It is a great way to shake up your workout routine, learn self defense moves, while having fun, challenging your mind and body, and meeting new friends. For more information or to book your first class, reach out to Jeremy via Facebook.