My first Muay Thai training


Chiang Mai

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 16/06/2024, 11:00

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

It is Friday evening and I am lying in my bed, completely knackered. Every muscle in my legs hurts. This is not my typical Friday night. Normally, I would be drinking beer in one of the clubs and staying up until 6 am. Today,  all I am drinking is water and I am trying not to move much so I don’t feel the pain. This afternoon I had my first Muay Thai practice.

I decided to do it, just to get back on track with my fitness. I used to do a lot of running back in London, but due to my rich social life in Chiang Mai, I neglected my routine. A few days ago I found a great place to run, so I took that up again, and now I was going to try out something completely different. I have never exercised like that. I have never used my strength to get fit, but there always needs to be that first time, right?

I show up at the Lanna Muay Thai before 4 pm. There is no one to be seen, so I sit on a bench with my friend Cel and wait. After a couple of minutes a very nice Canadian guy shows up and, after a a small talk, he asks us if we wanted to go for a run with him. I take him up on his offer. I’ve had a long break from running, but I do want to try and see how I compare to someone, who is obviously more fit than I am. He says that we would do a smaller circle.

We run on the streets, and next to a very busy motorway. After 10 minutes of jogging it is obvious that the ‘smaller circle’ is not really that small, but I am determined to keep up with him. He is kind enough to run a little slower, so he doesn’t lose me. The run lasts around 30 minutes. I make it and I am very proud of myself.

When we arrive back, there are a couple of people getting ready to exercise, and the trainers are giving away instructions. So, they tell us to skip a rope for another half an hour. I am already sweating and breathing heavily, and I feel like this has been enough for me. I take small breaks in between jumps. I can’t do this…. Luckily, the other girls that are there are as tired as me, so I don’t feel that bad.

After that painful exercise, they wrap special material, that look like bandage, around our hands and fingers. It really does look like something out of the ‘Rocky’ movie. This alone makes me feel empowered. Then they show us the right position (right leg back, left leg slightly forward) and hand position (fists, close to the face to protect it) and then we punch his open hands with our fists. And we punch, and we punch, and we punch…. Then we learn how to kick with our knees, and with our feet, then how to hit with our elbows. Then we combine everything together. The trainer makes us go faster. This is not only a physical exercise, but a mental, too. You need to really focus to react fast to the trainer’s commands. ‘Left knee! Punch! Left elbow!’ he shouts so fast that at one point I lose track and punch him straight in the face. Luckily, my fist slides a little and the damage is not even visible, but I feel pretty bad anyway. After a while we all stand in the row and he does what he calls a ‘Thai fitness’, which is jumping in one place and making the same moves as before – knee, elbow, punch… You can imagine what state I am in right now. My hair is all wet, my t-shirt is soaked with sweat, and I am breathing so heavily that I think my lungs will explode in a minute. But I feel wonderful at the same time. Gosh, I haven’t felt so good in a long time. Not only I feel great, because I am doing something nice to myself, but I feel like I can kick some asses here and now.

The trainer puts on an ‘armour’ made out of foam and tells me to kick him. So, I kick him and punch him, and punch him harder. My sweat is flying around, like in a real boxing fight. I am sure I suck at this big time, but I am having so much fun that when the trainer wants to take a break, I don’t allow him to. I want more!

At that point I am finally allowed to put gloves on and for the next hour I play with the punching bag. That is fun, too. Although the one I am exercising on is slightly ripped at the sides and when I kick it it hurts my feet. By the end of it, I have scratches all over and my freshly done pedicure is completely gone.

It is almost 3 hours since the start of the training and the trainers push us to do more. I am exhausted. In my mind I curse the training, I curse the trainers, I curse the gym, and whoever invented Muay Thai, but at the same time I am thinking ‘I really do need to come back’.

The session finishes with some gentle stretches, which is almost exactly like a yoga training. I don’t think I have a body any more…

I go home, take a shower, and crash on my bed. I will suffer the next day, but I am already planning my week, so I have time for another wonderful Muay Thai training.