Angela Beitz pulls her gloves on to discover a tougher type of exercise
With the sluggish summer months finally slipping away, now’s the perfect time to restart your fitness regime. But if you’re bored of pounding the treadmill or want to take your fitness level up a notch, then Muay Thai (Thai boxing) could be for you. A demanding workout, both physically and mentally, the sport’s intensity and reputation for being one of the toughest martial arts out there has helped it grow in popularity over the past few years. We caught up with Mat Dryden, from Cobra Muay Thai, to learn more about the sport.
Can you explain to us what Muay Thai is? Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand, and is known as ‘the art of eight limbs’, because you use your fists, legs, knees and elbows as weapons. It’s basically a form of kickboxing that involves stand-up striking along with various clinch techniques in an attempt to control your opponent. It originated as a very brutal and sometimes fatal form of fighting, before becoming a competitive sport. Before it progressed, Muay Thai started out as Muay Boran, an ancient art form in which rope or twine was wrapped around the hands and feet, instead of gloves. There was no ring, just a patch of dirt, and the fights would end with a knockout or death. Today, Muay Thai is one of the world’s fastest-growing and most popular combat sports.
What sort of physical results are you likely to see from training? We have achieved amazing results with our clients: people come in with a goal of losing a few kilos, and rarely do they not succeed. Along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, Muay Thai does wonders for all-over fitness and conditioning.
How tough is it as a workout? Muay Thai is extremely intense and takes an enormous amount of discipline, yet it is not just for those who want to get into the ring. Muay Thai is one of the best workouts I’ve ever done because it really focuses on your whole body, along with providing a huge amount of cardio. We have all sorts of clients with different fitness levels in our gym and they love it – anyone can do it and gain results.
Sounds intense but a lot of fun! What are the main benefits of Muay Thai? There are so many benefits. It’s an excellent form of self-defence, it enhances flexibility, stamina, strength and speed, increases confidence and teaches discipline. It also develops assertiveness, self-awareness and a positive attitude. Muay Thai will certainly relieve your stress after a difficult day in the office. For more info, contact chief instructor Mat Dryden in Abu Dhabi at email@example.com (055 616 0996)
Where to try in Dubai
Dubai Muay Thai Kickboxing Club Group classes are available, as are one-on-one lessons for both adults and children. Dhs600 for 10 classes (non-Hayya! members); Dhs500 (members). Dhs90 (non-Hayya! members), Dhs80 (members). Sun 6pm, Tue 7pm, Thu 6.30pm. Emirates Hills, www.hayya.ae. (050 475 2928)
KO Gym This Dubai Marina gym offers combined Muay Thai and boxing classes six days a week. Each class lasts 90 minutes, including warm-up, cardio and pad work. Dhs60 per class. Sat-Thu 6.30pm-8pm, 8pm-9.30pm. KO Gym, Dream Tower, Dubai Marina (050 286 1673)
One Percent Gym Muay Thai boxing classes in a real boxing ring. One-on-one and group classes are available. Dhs150 per month. Open daily 7am-midnight. Al Muraqqabat Road, Deira (04 268 2686)