A reader of Nerd Fitness (shout out to Evan) commented about staying motivated by mixing things up with Muay Thai boxing to stay in shape. I’ve been chatting with my friend Joe (a programmer for Radiant Systems, former top-ranked player in the world on Xbox Live in Halo 2, and one of the strongest mofo’s I know) about trying our hand at some martial arts to stay motivated ourselves. Well, what do you know – Joe managed to find a MMA training center, complete with Muay Thai boxing, right down the street from where he lives! He went and checked it out today…this is how it went:
Joe: I’ve always been interested in martial arts, but as a youngin’ my parents would never let me do anything like that, so all I could do was drool over Kung Fu movies and The Matrix action scenes. Me and Steve were talking the other day and he got me pumped up about actually doing something about it. So that, plus wanting to get some more entertaining cardio and stress relief into my schedule, I’ve decided to try my hand at learning Muay Thai.
This martial art revolves around pounding people to a pulp with your fists, elbows, knees, and feet — NICE, where do I sign up!? I checked out some gyms in the Atlanta area and found one close to me that offered some beginner classes. So after work today I headed to that gym and got set up a free learner session. After outfitting me with some hand wraps and boxing gloves, the main instructor lead me over to their training area and tells me to start jumping rope. After 5 minutes of exhausting myself doing that (yea I’m outta shape with the cardio) we threw on the gloves and started some basic punches. I learned quickly that no matter which hand I’m throwing, I have to use the other one to block the other side of my head. There are so many youtube videos of guys getting roundhouse kicked to the opposite side of the head after a failed punch, so it’s a good lesson to learn. It was pretty thrilling though to start beating up a bag doing some combo punches they showed us, but WOW you get exhausted fast — and I was just doing the warm up.
After this initial lesson we got thrown into the boxing ring with a partner. One of us would perform the same punch combos we just learned on the other, who was holding blocking bads. I was first to throw punches, and man it was fun to slam punches into this kid, knocking him back.. but I tired so quickly I had to restrain myself and work on form and just getting through the damn exercise first! Just holding your arms up and thrusting them really takes a lot out of you, and when you add 2 lb gloves your deltoids start to screaaam. So after beating the crap out of this kid for 10 minutes (and doing some super-fast cardio punch drills) it was my turn to hold the pads. I thought this would be the ‘easy’ portion of the exercise, but oh no. These pads weigh a good bit more (and for good reason) and holding them up is an endurance test all its own. Well, me and the other dude survived the punching drills and got to take a well needed 30 second break :ugh:.
The kicking portion was now underway (oh boy) and the instructor showed us how to pivot on your foot and bring your hips over and around to really pack a whallop. Best thing in this drill was to remember to try to kick THROUGH the person, like you were chopping them in half. Well my partner was used to some other style of kick, and was having trouble getting the technique down. I was holding the pads when the instructor came over and sized up to me to show him the technique. He looks at me and does a slow motion kick up to the pads to show the proper form to both of us. Then this guy just performs this epic move in what I can only describe as a Bruce Lee leg-explosion, almost levelling me from hitting the pads so hard. I’m pretty sure it would’ve killed me had the pads not been there. Then just for fun the instructor decides to roundhouse the living bajessus out of the pads twice more. I think he wanted to show me that just because I was bigger than him didn’t mean I could beat him up. A very humbling lesson indeed! After absorbing some much more powerful kicks it became my turn. Let me tell you: There’s nothing more satisfying in a gym than lining up and getting to kick some poor random person. And then repeating it over and over :D. Granted, I tired after like 10 kicks and would’ve lost any fight after that, but it really goes to show the amount of training and endurance that these athletes have.
After making me do high kicks until my legs and abs were gonna cramp and and die the drill was finally over. Now I can finally get some water and rest and relax — errr, nope. First had to do 5 sets of 10 pushups, 10 crunches, and 10 standing squats with no break. Then do 3 minutes of planks. Then do mountain climbers. Then collapse in a pool of your own sweat, tears, and probably some other people’s too. Then the instructors had the nerve to INVITE ME BACK. WHAT!? And I thought we had outlawed torture in this country :D. I will say it was the best workout I’ve had in years, and will hopefully continue the training — as soon as my body recovers. If any of you are looking for a ridiculous workout and a total body endurance makeover, I suggest you try out one of these programs. I definitely got my ass kicked today, but if I stick with it, I’ll one day turn that equation around.