Plus-sized workouts: A Muay Thai review at Evolve MMA Singapore
In the ring
The lowdown: At Evolve, it's easy to be intimidated when you're a newbie. Cages and rings dominate the entire gym, while grunts and punches are within earshot. But the trick is to really feign confidence just so to overcome this innate fear that your self-conscious is relented to. Although my session was a one-on-one with a three-time Muay Thai World Champion, Chaowalit (his moniker 'The Giant Killer'), the nerves gradually soothed itself as soon as I saw how friendly and gentle he was as he greeted me with a "sawadeekap". Everything gets better when you have the whole ring to yourself.
The session began with a few stretches, just to loosen our bodies up. This was going to be focused on the basics of Muay Thai. Soon, Chaowalit demonstrated how to stand, establishing a boxing stance, then a sequence of moves involving my arms and legs. To be more specific, eight of my limbs were engaged. Two hands, two elbows, two knees, and two legs. Utilising strength in my elbows was something that was new to me. Different and very challenging.
The intensity amped up as we repeated the moves faster, just to get used to the pattern. First, hooks (side punches with arms at a 90-degree angle) and jabs (quick straight punches). Then elbows, knees, and legs. Before I knew it, I was sweating. Chaowalit also stressed on making a noise when I threw a punch — something that I was pretty embarrassed to do. I soon learned that it's not about showing off, but rather letting off a grunt can release more energy for more powerful punches. Another good safety guideline that he mentioned, was to always hit with your knuckles while keeping your wrists straight and tight just so you don't end up injuring your hands. Moving your hands back towards your body when kicking with your legs, can also aid you with more power.
Just to get a better workout, we commenced the session with 20 sit-ups and 20-push-ups. The latter was hard to achieve because I was pretty worn out. My cheeky trainer decided to hit my stomach with his padding gloves as a way of encouragement, which I found hilarious. People with body issues might have found that offensive, but I have seen men with abs train that way and it was pretty funny every time I felt the vibration.
As a bigger person: Chaowalit commented that I did a good job, and my strength for striking was also commendable. Better than most beginners, as compared to other big folks or those with a smaller build, who were so stiff that they couldn't kick without losing their balance. For someone with a bigger frame like me, he advises to have a wider stance, just so you keep your balance and not fall over. His recommendation in order to lose weight or gain strength, is to at least train three times a week over the period of three months to see a significant improvement. While I prefer one-on-one sessions for the personal attention (which he agreed is advantageous), he also pointed out that group classes were great for community building.
The aftermath: By the end of the session, my entire body was shaking. Chaowalit warned that muscle aches were going to be a thing for the next few days. "Sabai, sabai," he said, which means, to take it easy in Thai. My legs were wobbly down the stairs, arms were wobbly as I shampooed my hair, and hands were shaking even as I penned down notes after the training. The next few days, the back of my thighs and the back of my shoulders felt the aches and occasional tremors. Not going to lie, I was so wiped out that I knocked out every night as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Good to know: The session is barefoot. Both the place and sport might be intimidating so put on your big girl (or boy) face and get on with it. Block it out and do what you came here to do.
What to bring: Your workout gear (unless you're showing up in them like I did), toiletries, and a change of clothes. Bring your own bottle to refill.
Name of session: Muay Thai one-on-one trial with a World Champion
Try it out here: Evolve Far East Square
Duration of session: 1 hour