I've been taking muay thai kickboxing for about 3 months now, twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. It has been an amazing experience. The thai kickboxing workouts are intense, make no mistake about it. Even though I am in a beginners class, the sweat pours like a hot summer rain!
We start each kickboxing workout by lining up in the gym facing our Kru, or teacher. He bows to us, we bow to him, and he welcomes us with a few words. We then start with skipping rope.
As crazy as this may sound, I found jumping rope to be incredibly challenging. I started with 25 extra pounds around my waist, and perhaps my co-ordination was a little off. The rope is covered in hard plastic, plus I'm barefoot and the rope would smack my toes and it really stings!
I would watch the more experienced students jump rope and see if I could keep up. Sometimes I could go 15-20 jumps in a row before I would hit my toes or head with the rope. But after a month I got the hang of it. We jump rope in the thai kickboxing workouts until we start to sweat, maybe 4 to 6 minutes.
Then comes the tortuous part, the cardio conditioning. Every kickboxing class has a different routine. Sometimes we do burpees, sometimes hillclimbers, always lots of squats, jumping squats, pushups and the like. For the old timers it's like a real intense session of calesthetics.
We generally train technique for 20 to 25 minutes. And like the cardio, kickboxing technique training varies from class to class. Sometimes you work your kicks onto the pads that your partners hold. Sometimes its punching combinations. We work routines like front kick, 3 punch combo then right thai kick. It always is different. I really enjoy the variety, it keeps the training from ever getting stale.
But we always finish with pain. . . abdominal pain. You lie on the floor on your back, and raise your legs up off the ground until they are straight up in the air. Your partner stands at your head, roughly with his or her feet near your shoulders, facing your feet. Your partner pushes on your feet, forcing your legs back down to the floor. You raise your legs back straight up, the partner pushes them back down. . . this goes on for 3 straight minutes. Your abs are burning after 1, screaming after 2, and generally are nearing failure before the session ends. Then you get to switch and torture your partner!
I honestly thought I saw an abdominal muscle on my body the other day in the mirror. It's impossible, I still have at least 10 pounds of blubber to lose, but I feel fantastic! My energy levels are off the charts, I'm sleeping so much better at night and I love it. I highly recommend muay thai kickboxing workouts for anyone serious about getting into top shape!
Yoshi Kundagawa is a freelance journalist covering the martial arts world. Too much time at his computer eating donuts reduced him to couch potato status. He's on a quest to recapture his youth and fitness. You can read his blog at http://www.martialarts3000.com