Prashant Patil, a Central government employee, recently got his transfer orders. His relocation happened to a remote location where he didn’t have an option to go for a run or hit the gym. Out of curiosity, Prashant started practicing Muay Thai by watching videos online. Today, he visits a trainer to practice the combat sport, also known as the art of eight limbs. And he’s not the only one swearing by the ‘art of eight limbs’ when it comes to its fitness benefits.

What is Muay Thai?

A form of boxing, this combat sport originated in Thailand, hence the name. “Muay Thai is like a complete package,” says Prashant, adding, “It is a combination of cardio, strengthening and meditation. And it's a fitness routine where you require minimal accessories. Plus, it’s a great self-defence lesson.”

Muay Thai 1

Marketing professional Kapil Dev and college student Shaharoof UP took up Muay Thai lessons for similar reasons. “I started this five years ago because I was dealing with cholesterol issues. My doctor suggested I take it up. Believe me, it has worked like magic! I weigh three kilos more than when I started, but that is just muscle mass gained, not fat,” says Dev, who wakes up at 4 am for his classes.

According to Siddharth Singh, North India Head of United Muay Thai Association of India, and the founder and head coach at an institute says that this regime offers a mix of aerobic, anaerobic and strength training, in contrast to gyms where the focus is either on strength training or cardio. "When at gyms, we stop exercising when we feel tired. But here, in a group of advanced sportsmen, if you are a newbie, you have to push yourself as much as possible,” he says, adding that people are getting inspired by films like the Never Back Down series, Undisputed, Brothers, John Wick and so on to take this up. Singh shares, “Unlike other martial art forms, which are either learnt as a combat sport or only for self-defence purposes, Muay Thai combines it all, making one fitter, stronger and sharper.” Actors like Akshay Kumar, Ryan Gosling, Ali Fazal and Kevin James are said to be trained in Muay Thai.

Explaining the benefits of Muay Thai over gymming,
Jitendra Chouksey, author and CEO and founder of an online fitness and nutrition platform says: "Gymming is just a way to create a foundation. It helps you build muscles and keeps you fit, but eventually, you would want to figure out how you can utilise the muscles. Also, gyms can be boring in the long run, but playing sports can make your fitness routine more interesting."

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But first, find a good coach!

Since fists, knees, and elbows act as shields, experts warn that if not done properly, the technique can be dangerous for you. Jeetendra Jangra, a fitness coach and Muay Thai practitioner, emphasises on starting with a trainer. “People get fascinated by martial arts and try to deep dive into it. There are a lot of striking acts that are made using the joints, and for that, a body needs to be conditioned before starting such routines." Rishi Manuja, fitness coach and Muay Thai practitioner, says, "Core strength and stability are key elements in any sort of fitness routine. Whenever one goes for compound movement exercises (where you move more than one muscle under resistance) like bench press, squats or deadlifts, a strong core is the key. And Muay Thai helps you achieve that. But for that, a good basic training is required."

The rise of Muay Thai

20-25k students in
2015, to over
3 lakh in

Calories burned per hour

Gym (standard workout): 250-300 calories
Muay Thai: 600-800 calories

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