It’s a fight to the finish at Pacific Muay Thai, where you’ll sprint, punch, kick — and sweat from the get-go.
EVERYONE WAS ALREADY sweating when I arrived at Pacific Muay Thai in White Center. Had they worked out, and the foundations class I was about to take was a cool-down?
I won’t leave you guessing — the foundations class was the exact opposite of a cool-down. I later decided the regulars at this gym came early (and some stayed for another class afterward) because they are extra-hardcore.
I chose Pacific Muay Thai because it is a competitive gym for Thai boxing. Muay Thai is sometimes characterized as kickboxing, though I learned it is more specific in its strikes, using punches, kicks, knees and elbows.
Coach Kim Nguyen started us off jumping rope. About two minutes in, my calves were burning, while everyone else appeared to leisurely add in tricks, jumping one foot at a time, playing around. I soon figured out I had to take breaks, or I was never going to make it through this class.
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We did more warmups, including fast sprints back and forth over mats, burpees, bear crawls and high knees while jumping in place. We did some intense splits to stretch.
This was a warmup?
We moved on to shadow boxing, working on punches, jabs and hooks. I learned the form for using my knee, thrusting it forward, and then worked on a controlled kick, turning sideways and kicking out, then controlling it back in.
Nguyen stopped at each person, watching form. He showed me how to spin my hips, and reminded me to protect my face, before saying, “Nice work, Nicole,” and moving on. I’m not sure it was really true, but by that point, I was happy for encouragement.
For sparring, Nguyen partnered me with Florence Sum, the only other woman in class that day.
Sum had me put on her gloves, and she held mitts, working with me on different combinations, including jab/punch/hook, and jab/punch/hook/elbow. The regular boxing combinations felt familiar from other boxing classes. The elbow was the hardest move, as I tried to slide my feet forward and throw my weight into my elbow and into Sum’s mitt.
Learning to knee an opponent was tough, and I had to work on pushing my hips forward and kneeing into the pads. The kick was easier: a sharp turn and whip of one leg.
For the free portion of sparring, Sum threw new combinations at me, including kicking and kneeing with my left leg. She encouraged me to keep at it until we ended with 10 kicks on each leg. I was exhausted.
Then it was my turn to hold the mitts. This was an entirely new skill, punching back at Sum, and making sure I held the mitts in the right place so neither of us got hurt. Also, Sum kicks and knees hard. I was surprised at how tired my shoulders got, holding the mitts up and defending against Sum’s blows.
Just when I thought we were done, Nguyen told us to put down our mitts and gloves, and come back to the mats for a final round of planks, mountain runners, high knees and burpees. I was thoroughly beat.
The atmosphere at Pacific Muay Thai is focused and still friendly; by the end, we all bonded over the intensity of class. It appears to be a great gym to learn competitive Thai boxing, though you also can go for an intense workout and learn to spar. Either way, you’ll push yourself hard and get strong.