It would be hard to miss the focus on fitness from every corner: our government and our news media are insistently sounding the alarm about the state of our health.

Admittedly, there is reason to be concerned; our school kids are at the forefront of an obesity crisis and they are not the only ones whose weight has skyrocketed while their level of fitness has plummeted.

Could you run a half-marathon right now?

On the other hand, let’s say that you are dedicated to a healthy lifestyle: you work out several times per week, you avoid binging on unhealthy foods and you do other things to contribute to your well-being, like getting enough sleep.

Are you ready to take your fitness regimen to the next level? How about trying a martial art? How about trying Muay Thai?

The popularity of this ancient art of defence is growing by leaps and bounds – or should we say by kicks and punches?

What is known as the Art of Eight Limbs is well on its way to surpassing Taekwondo, karate and even Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as the ultimate in the martial arts; though often confused with MMA fighting, it stands on its own as the ultimate in discipline and conditioning.

If you are indeed a well-conditioned athlete looking for a new challenge, why not pick up on some Muay Thai techniques?

Your Superprof has scoured the country to find the best gyms and the most competent instructors of Muay Thai boxing. Now we reveal them all.

London Muay Thai Clubs

As you might expect, our capital city leaves us spoiled for choice when it comes to Muay Thai gyms. Many of them deserve mention – they are covered in our London Muay Thai article but here, we feature only one: Singdayt Muay Thai.

What kind of training can you expect from a facility based in a dance studio? Much more than you might think.

Reflect for a moment on the origins of Muay Thai: centuries ago, it was how armies fought in the country now known as Thailand.

Muay Thai is Thailand's national sport
This fighter, working the heavy bag in a Thailand Muay Thai training center, proves that clubs need not be full of equipment to train Source: Wikipedia: Credit: Re-Ality

The discipline was established in a time when weapons were scarce; all a man had to succeed in combat were his wits, speed, agility and strength. Now, hundreds of years later, Muay Thai fighting remains virtually unchanged.

Fighters are only minimally clad; save for possibly their pra jiad – an armband signalling their allegiance, a fighter’s apparel consists of a pair of shorts especially cut to permit high kicking.

What did those long-ago fighters have to train with? Only their master and each other.

So, seeking classes in a bare-bones studio, training with nothing but Thai pads and boxing gloves under the guidance of a coach who three times was named Lumpinee Stadium champion and World Champion five times…

You may just be harkening back to when Muay Thai was less of a sport and more of a fight for survival.

The Best Muay Thai Clubs in Manchester

Mancunians love their sports; from football to swimming, there is a sport for everyone in Manchester.

For those that love more than the sporting aspects of sports, who love the discipline they gain and the confidence it brings them, there are Muay Thai clubs aplenty.

Some of them, like the Manchester Fighting Academy, are cleverly concealed within another martial art centre, the Fighting Fit, to be exact.

They have a fantastic facility, fully equipped with everything you need to train, from raised rings for sparring to heavy bags to toughen up your shins – did you know that Muay Thai kicks are made with your shins? Your feet are used more for defence; to push your opponent away.

Coach John Chipchase has been training fighters for years; some of his pupils have even gone on to win bouts all across the UK and even in Phuket – the mecca for nac muay farang, as foreign boxers are called.

Are you intrigued? You can try them out for free – they offer your initial session at no cost; subsequent lessons are only £7.

If you’d like to see a greater variety of Muay Thai clubs in Manchester, we’ve listed more in a separate article.

Muay Thai Gyms in Birmingham

Brummies are no slouch where sports are concerned, either; in scouring this city for places to practise Muay Thai, we were fairly overrun with gi-wearing martial artists begging us to spar with them!

Tricked you! Muay Thai fighters do not wear the traditional garb favoured by other martial arts like judo, Jiu-Jitsu and karate.

As a Muay Thai fighter, you would wear the same thing they do in mixed martial arts: shorts – either Muay Thai shorts or MMA shorts; as long as they are cut high and loose on the leg so your kicks won’t be restricted.

You will also wear hand wraps and, when sparring, Muay Thai gloves; you may even want to wear shin guards – only while you’re training; you won’t be allowed to wear them in the ring.

Smack in the middle of City Centre, you will find Eagle Kickboxing. Wait a minute: are we tricking you again?

You are quite right to raise an eyebrow; there is a difference between kickboxing and Muay Thai fighting, the main one being the number of striking points.

Still, this club has every piece of gear you might want or need and they have multiple martial arts classes scheduled every week – for beginners all the way up to established fighters.

Many fitness enthusiasts seek out Muay Thai classes because it provides the ultimate in fitness workouts, an excellent strategy for self-defense and is the perfect confidence booster.

Whether you are looking for the best you or aspire to fight in Lumpinee boxing stadium in Bangkok – the #1 Muay Thai stadium, Eagle will find a way to deliver.

And if for some reason, this club does not suit, you may cast about for other Muay Thai clubs in Birmingham

You would need strength conditioning to execute this manoeuvre
Muay boran, literally 'ancient boxing' calls for dramatic techniques such as this climbing kick Source: Wikipedia Credit: Peerapong Prasutr

Study Muay Thai in Belfast

Having placed our focus on Muay Thai these last few weeks has shown us just how large the martial arts community is in the UK, how diverse the people are and how dedicated they are to fitness and promoting their sport.

IFS is home to such a group. They are a cross-community martial arts gym that trains in wrestling, boxing, mixed martial arts and Muay Thai.

They also do something called no-gi grappling, a discipline that reinforces many of the techniques used in MMA fighting.

Luke Roche is the Muay Thai coach for this group; he was ranked #1 in Ireland when he was competing.

Today, he brings his considerable expertise to his students, donning Thai pads and helping them target their kicks for maximum power and efficiency.

As far as we can tell, IFS’s 8-week trial period is unique in the country; nowhere have we found a Muay Thai club that offers prospective fighters a chance to try things out for two months, practising either MMA or Muay Thai.

Of course, that is not the only Muay Thai club in Belfast; there are others…

Glasgow’s Muay Thai Centres

It might be a bit hard to imagine fun-loving, freewheeling Glaswegians training up to become martial artists but, judging by the number (and quality) of clubs we found there, their love of combat sports is well-rooted.

We featured many of Glesga’s excellent Muay Thai clubs in our full-length article; we want to take this opportunity to talk about Glasgow Thai Boxing Academy.

Thai Boxing is a bit different than Muay Thai.

The Art of Eight Limbs affords more striking points than Thai boxing does; four more, to be exact. Thai boxing does not permit using elbows and knees to strike your opponent.

While that may make it sound just like any ordinary boxing match, what makes Thai boxing an intriguing premise is the endurance and strength required to win a bout, as well as the reflexes required to block or avert the blows.

If you are already in excellent physical shape and are considering studying Muay Thai, you may like to try Muay Boxing to raise your stamina levels before training as a Muay Thai fighter.

At the very least, the Glasgow Thai Boxing Academy is a supreme facility; they even have physiotherapists on-site to help you work out any kinks or discomfort you might have after your sparring sessions.

And, by offering you an initial lesson at no charge and lessons as low as £5 per, they virtually guarantee the first time you walk in their door won’t be the last.

Children learn footwork and punching early in Thailand
In Thailand, children undergo martial arts training at an early age Source: Wikipedia Credit: USMC

Cardiff Clubs for Muay Thai

Upon first studying what’s on offer at Hangar Human Performance Centre, you get the idea that they are into helping people discover their best selves through a variety of combat sports, boxing and mixed martial arts included.

What is less obvious is that they can also train you to be a Muay Thai fighter.

Theirs is a fully-equipped facility, loaded with everything you will need to build up your strength, from kettlebells to free weights to bags. You can also get a cardio workout on their stationary cycles or work the other gym equipment they have.

Interestingly enough, one of their heavy bags is shaped like a human torso, the better to gauge the aim of your kicks and punches!

This is a fun-loving, family-run facility that is nevertheless serious about working out.

Thanks to popular demand, Hangar has added extra Muay Thai classes to their schedule; you may now select either their Wednesday or Thursday evening courses.

Even if you are as yet uncertain about becoming a Muay Thai fighter, the Hangar is well worth checking out, along with other Muay Thai clubs in Cardiff.

We’ll see you there!

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.