Muay Thai is a mixed martial art, combining strikes, kicks and grappling. In a professional setting, not much is off limits, however the full contact nature of the sport is left to the pros: no one’s going home dinged up from this class.
Before class starts, our instructor (a lean, mean machine) shows us how to strap up our hands to avoid injury. Our straps are pink, but it feels tough. The class starts with a warm up (running, side stepping). We partner up and move through progressively more complicated punching and kicking combos with bags and pads.
The class is being run out of the Alternative Women's Fitness clubhouse – a Thornbury exercise institution for ladies who like to rock. Forget trying to sweat prettily here – the official motto is "we're not a fucking gym" and it's exercise with a side serve of punk. Other classes in the AWF stable include Sculptallica (for ladies who like to get lean to a spot o' Metallica), Rock Aerobix and Barre-Bang. It's like doing hard-core exercise with the Suicide Girls, which is refreshing. It also means that there are only women in the Muay Thai class, which is good because holding a bag or a pad for a dude to punch would have wigged us out.
The tunes set the mood for the class – they're all old-school, dirty rock’n’roll (‘Sabotage’ by Beastie Boys’ get us started). All are apt for channelling a bit of aggro. Timidity gets chucked out the window and we’re grunting like Olympic weight-lifters within the first ten minutes. Who knew that kicking the shit out of something felt so good? Screw meditation, this is good for the soul.
Wear: Just your regular gym gear – you’ll sweat like a horse, so layers are good. You do it barefoot so don’t worry about fly footwear. You can buy the straps for $8 from Alternative Women’s Fitness and all other gear is provided.
Good for: Cardio, amazing stress relief and great guns.
Degree of difficulty from one (I get more exercise changing channels) to five (I can’t walk down stairs anymore and it’s been three days): Four.
Would we go back? Count on it.
Various locations and times. Check their website for details. Classes run in 6 week terms. $99-$110.