Rolling with the punches

Try your hand (with a glove) at this not-so-typical sport

Rolling with the punches

Over the last few years and albeit still in its infancy in Qatar, muay Thai has become more than just a hobby. Thailand’s national sport is about the art of eight limbs, using your hands, elbows, knees and legs in order to defeat your opponent in combat. With an increasing number of gyms and fitness centres modelling classes on this technique, muay Thai is now a big part of the fitness culture in Doha.

We speak with instructor Caitalin Abu Baker about what makes muay Thai a must-try activity and how it’s popularity is especially increasing among women.

It’s important to know that muay Thai is not your typical boxfit or kickfit class, it is a martial art that promotes discipline, humility, determination, persistence and respect. “It is brutal and it’s not for the faint hearted, but this is art in its purest form and you can master its incredible techniques and strategies,” Abu Baker says.

The sport is for anyone, irrespective of fitness level, shape and size. There are physical and mental benefits that with consistency, will increase multifold. “You may start with the simple goal to get fitter or lose weight, but you will eventually notice how involved and focused you are on what you’re learning and doing during training,” she explains. According to Abu Baker, focusing on punches coming for you or perfecting the kicks is the best escape from frustration, stress and tension.

Abu Baker actively works with women in muay Thai, empowering them both physically and mentally. “It challenges women to explore in a safe environment. Watching their eyes light up when they first put on gloves and throw some kicks and punches is delightful,” she says. She feels that women do have the strength and as their confidence grows, they realise the difference between discomfort and actual pain. “The sessions are hard, but as women get more involved, they want to do it more and do it better.”

If you’re looking for a fun sport that’s as mentally challenging as it is physical, Abu Baker can’t recommend muay Thai enough.

Now recognised as an Olympic sport, muay Thai has a promising future and luckily, you can train for it right here in Doha. “All you need is the right coaching and mentoring to end up at one of the amazing international amateur muay Thai tournaments around the world,” says Abu Baker.

So while you book your next class, we’ll be around donning our boxing gloves and throwing some serious beginner punches.
QR750 (ten classes). Tue 6.30pm, Fri 4pm. Diamond Fitness & Fight Qatar, Dafna (5509 1985).

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