A Taste of Thai

I (Melissa) am bored with the gym.  Bored with deadlifts and pull-ups, back squats and presses, rowing and running.  I re-discovered the bench press and the Prowler this summer, which peaked my interest for a few weeks, but all in all, I’m bored.  Not with exercise itself, but with all of my exercise coming from gym-related CrossFit-esque training protocols.

So I decided to look up a Muay Thai place in Salt Lake City.  Back in NH, I took a half-cardio, half-kickboxing class based on Muay Thai.  It was not a true martial arts class – we didn’t spar or anything – but we worked on the bag and with partners holding pads and got a lot of personalized attention to make sure our punches and kicks were properly executed.  We also did some crunches and push-ups and listened to an awesome music mix (made by yours truly) while we trained… so I’ll say it was 70% kickboxing and 30% cardio.  Worked for me – the class was a great workout, and a lot of fun.

Dallas and I found a gym nearby offering both a Thai boxing program and “aerobic kickboxing”.  We went over last week so I could do a cardio class and he could check out their boxing program.  I came prepared to sweat, in my CrossFit Stamford “Do Work” tank and toting extra bottles of water.  The instructor appeared to be a fairy wood sprite about as big as my left leg, wearing a straight-up leotard and scrunchy socks with white Reeboks and a Time Life Operator headset.  This should have been my first warning sign.

The music was ear splitting-  what I call “circus techno” (you know, it goes ,”uhn-CH-uhn-CH”).  Our warm-up was a series of stretches I recognized from my Mom’s Jazzercise routines and about 17 minutes of “jab cross” on the bag (timed, of course, to the techno).  The instructor had boundless energy, maintaining the pace while talking everyone through the movements.  She was fit, I’ll give her that, but she continued to drive the class bus straight into the Billy Blanks Memorial Tunnel, and we were all just along for the ride.  (What were my options?  Either sit out the lame stuff and risk looking like I can’t keep up… or kick major aerobic ass, and pray that no one in class has ever heard of Whole9.  I chose the latter.)

The combinations were executed so fast, there was more bouncing off the bag than actual technique.  The number of jab-crosses we were told to do to “keep our heart rates up” started to make my shoulder hurt, probably because we were never told to switch guard.  (I started to on my own.)  At one point, I looked over at Dallas, who was talking to one of the instructors, and attempted to telegraph my dismay while doing a step-cross-knee-UP! dance routine across the gym floor.  He studiously avoided my eyes and pretended not to know me.  I felt abandoned.

Finally, when I thought my aerobic lows could sink no lower… out came the Body Bars.  The first movement consisted of about 1,500 sumo deadlift high-pulls, which we don’t do because they’re stupid and potentially injurious.  I stood those out, but did participate in the standing skull-crushers (true story) and weird “jam your body bar into your hips and bend over” squat-like drill.  I wish I had photos, but Dallas had his back to me at this point, and was edging slowly towards the door. Traitor.  We ended with about 500 crunches, which I did as full sit-ups until my abdominals actually gave out, because 500 of anything is stupid.

We left as quickly as possible, Dallas smirking and me sweaty and disappointed that my Thai adventure wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  Don’t get me wrong – while I’m poking (all in good) fun here, there’s nothing wrong with an aerobics class, or most of the movements and drills they put us through.  It was wicked on the lungs, and a damn good cardio workout, and if you want to add Zumba or pole-dancing or Tae-Bo to your CrossFit routine just for fun and variety, you get two thumbs up from me.  It’s just that my particular class wasn’t at all what I was looking for.

But least it wasn’t the same old deadlifts and pull-ups… and it did make me realize that I needed way more than just a cardio workout to keep me interested.  So on Monday, we signed up for the actual Muay Thai program – the full deal, including sparring, if we are so inclined.  Our first lesson was awesome – we spent time learning the punches, elbows, knees and kicks on the heavy bag, and then we actually got in the ring with an instructor and pummeled the crap out of him as best as we could for a couple of three-minute rounds. It was exactly what I was looking for – a fun new sport, outside of the gym.  But there was a little something missing… I wonder if they’ll let me make a Muay Thai mix tape for this afternoon’s class?

Do you try to get outside of the gym for fun AND exercise?  Post your activity to comments.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been doing muay thai for the last ten years. I really breaks up the routine of swings & pulls. If you have a second I started a new blog lookfeelperform.blogspot.com check it out. If you feel inclined to follow, thanks ahead of time. Melissa and Dallas would it be appropriate to link some of your articles for review. Thanks

  2. says

    I had high hopes for your cardio class too – as I was reading, I was picturing a small wizened Mr. Miyagi type. Then I got to the leotards & scrunchy socks. Lemme tell ya, images of little senseis in leotards and leg warmers are REALLY hard to get out of your brain once they get in there.

  3. says

    I’m still in the crossfit honeymoon stage. I still get a neuromuscular high from the perfectly executed snatch.

    Melissa, if you really want a new challenge, it may be time for a bun in yer oven. Just sayin… My 5 certainly keep my life active and interesting.

    (yes, I did go there!)

  4. says

    @Rod: Thanks for the link – we’ll check out your blog. You can certainly feel free to link to us as often as you like -thanks in advance for the props.

    @Brian: The instructor was not exactly a Mr. Miyagi… she was a very fit, completely adorable, way too perky chick. But the socks and Reeboks just killed me.

    @MikeH: Holy crap, you sure did go there. Um, thanks for the recommendation?

  5. J.Spice says

    That first class sounds like the old days at EDK. Hey, at least we met due to that class. I never get the point of 30 + reps of something. After a while, your body gives up, form flies out the door and you are just risking injury. It’s just stupid.
    The Muay Thai sounds fun. Do they know the degree of your mixes? I mean, you might have missed your calling as a Hollywood DJ…just saying, they’re awesome! Maybe we can try it when I come out.
    Good post. It defintely has your UGD personality- love it!

  6. says

    My activity of choice for fun and exercise is ultrarunning. I know the whole “chronic cardio drives cortisol levels” argument, but I cannot think of a more wonderful experience than running at an easy pace for hours on end through beautiful mountainous terrain. It is what I live for, and my drive to be healthier in my ultrarunning (i.e. less injury) is what has led me to paleo nutrition and crossfit, both of which I am very grateful for.

  7. Mike M. in Arizona says

    At 37, I really enjoy doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the past year and a half. It provides aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, self-defense, new friends, and well run competitions for those that are inclined. The instructor really sets the tone on a good vs great school. I am grateful that at my school we are all a big family with no egos. I also feel that my whole food lifestyle provides me with the energy to make it through class with no issues. Fish oil helps me bounce back after a day. It’s humorous to see 20 and younger 30-year-olds huffing and puffing through the rolls.

    A big thanks to Melissa and Dallas for their recent trip to Phoenix, Arizona. It was a pleasure to attend the workshop and look forward to the next one. Bring on the additional content. =)

  8. Kara says

    I have been wanting to try some sort of MMA class but I also really like yoga and running. I am just not sure how to fit it all in with CF. LOL, I know I had an ambitious schedule that I couldn’t even finish out bc by the end of the week I was too tired. I really do love CF and to be honest, I have not been running very much and haven’t done yoga in forever. I guess I am a little paralyzed in my indecision or not wanting to make the wrong decision. But MMA type stuff I think would totally be fun.

  9. says

    I couldn’t stop laughing during this entire post… from “the Billy Blanks Memorial Tunnel” to Dallas’ slinking out of the room to the slam on SDHP’s (thank you!), this post has more gems than the Ekati diamond mine.

  10. says

    I had two friends drag me to a Zumba class, and it was actually pretty freakin’ fun! I think one of them described it as such: “like a great night out dancing with your girlfriends, without the hangover”. Like someone else said above, it’s hard to figure out the scheduling of CF plus other stuff, but I’d really like to add some kind of Yoga practice to my CF training. And of course I do my best to fit in the occasional Zumba dance fest. :)

    This was definitely more of an UGD style post, loved it. :)

  11. says

    I used to do a lot more non-crossfit activities…like lots of yoga and ballet classes. The gentle, stretching movements of those exercises definitely helped with the stress on my body from crossfit and the stress on my brain from my job. I haven’t found a lot of time to do those things in the recent past…and now I’m thinking that I need to incorporated more variety into my routine.

    My BF took Muay Thai classes all summer long and he LOVED IT! He actually taught me the warm-up they used to do for class and we sometimes do it before working out. I think he would have loved to keep up with it, but it’s super expensive in the Boston area…

  12. says

    Melissa – I think you’ve officially found your voice again with this post. Loved it, not that I ever felt you’d lost it to begin with…

    With regards to your question about breaking the “gym” routine. I like to go on a spirited hike/run on some local trails here in Scottsdale at least once or twice a week. On one of my trips to SLC last year I was taken on a snowshoe adventure through some amazing ski trails at the break of dawn. Unbelievable experience!! I can dig up the exact location details if you are interested? From what I recall it was only a 30 minute drive from the SLC airport…

    Thanks for a good laugh today!

  13. Lauren says

    That is hillarious! I’ve been kickboxing for 12 years and it makes me cringe everytime someone responds to finding out I’m a kickboxer with something like, “oh i tried that once, like thai-bo kind of thing right?” *shudder. Like you said, nothing wrong with that, but don’t call it kickboxing. I started crossfit because I was starting to get bored with kickboxing, now I find they actually compliment each other really well. I have way more endurance. I still like to throw in a muay thai or jui jitsu class to mix things up though.

  14. marianne says

    Thank you for making me laugh. I love goingto Krav Maga Isereal Self Defense. It is cardio/sparring learning defense/attack moves. I come out sweating every class.I love that I am pushed harder than others. I really like our warm up they are never the same. I teach so many classes I enjoy “being” taught. I just got orange belt. I have many more lessons to learn. Never done learning!!!!! Love it!!

  15. CK says

    my brother and i are on and off oly lifters (we both MIGHT compete in January, me for funsies, kevin for real). i am doing bikram yoga this week with my friend recovering from hip surgery and in a couple weeks, doing the Warrior Dash — if you haven’t seen it, its a 5K with obstacles. like a mud-run only more intense. we even get to jump over fire!! at the end you get a viking helmet and a medal (as well as a very un-Whole30 beer). i know about 30 crossfitters doing this race, i can’t wait. they are my new “sport”!

  16. says

    @JSpice: I need to give you the full uncensored version of the story – it was classic. And it made me miss you tremendously. I’ll try to catch up with you soon!

    @ALL: Thanks for the comments, this post was hella-fun to write. And for those of you who posted or emailed asking what’s wrong with the SDHP… luckily Whole9’s got a physical therapist on staff. And Dallas will be MORE than happy to share his thoughts with you, so keep your eyes out for a quick post on the topic soon.

  17. Thor! says

    Its all fun and games until someone gets punched in the face, then it really gets exciting!! As for the SDHP, if you don’t know why that sucks yet, give it time, it will come to you…

  18. meredith says

    One of my local globo gyms has a ” Butts and Guts” class. 30 min of nothing but glute and ab isolation moves. I think scrunchy sox are a requirement and a background in Jazzercise is recommeded. We like to hike and go for family fun runs once a week. Our fav is frisbee tho! Oh and Badminton!

  19. Claudia says

    Sounds like you went to an “aerokick” class , which out here is part of a UBC (Ultimate Body Challenge) program. I love kicking and punching the bag but after CF and trying a class again…I decided 50 minutes of the same stuff over and over, really made me tired and overworked. Won’t ever be going again.

    I recently tried Stand up paddleboard (SUP) on Lake Tahoe, what an awesome workout in a beautiful setting, would like to do more of it! Yoga is also a must along with CF, I think!

  20. Josh Groves says

    I loved this post and think it is important to always be experimenting with new ways of staying active and involved.

    I had a time where I was lifting and doing Judo but found that my shoulders didn’t take well to the beating that Judo can inflect. Tournaments were fun and 3 minutes on the mat is like 5 rounds of Fight Gone Bad, but alas it was time to move on.

    My sport that get’s my mind in the zone is Mountain Biking. I love it, I ride for fun, race, and share the experience with others. I highly recommend it. There’s a lot more to it than just pedaling over and over like on the road (which I use for cross-training and CFE intervals). The mountain bike experience is truly full-body.

  21. says

    Love this post – Not the best workout experience but at least you had a cool shirt on!
    I’m sending some newbies to your seminars on Nov. 13th & 14th but only one of them will have the new material you guys are presenting and the members are curious what that entails. Is it mostly meal planning?

  22. Stu H says

    Love the UGD feel to the post again Melissa. Finding your blog made my government placement almost pleasant

    I spice things up with Moksha Yoga. It’s hot yoga, done at the same temperature as Bikram, but a different method to the madness. It’s aim is to be more theraputic and you only do each posture once.

    Very popular north of the border. Hope some of your readers can fire up google

  23. says

    @Kristie: Nice to hear from you, hope things at Stamford are well. The full day workshop (at CrossFit Ignite in Westwood, NJ) will include a LOT of stuff… more details about foods that make you healthy and foods that make you less healthy, more details about inflammation and how it affects short and long term health goals, our FULL MealSimple™ meal planning template (including meals, snacks and pre- and post-workout nutrition) plus a discussion of common errors and travel/eating out guidelines and a thorough how-to for our Whole30 program. The 914 event (in Westchester, NY) will be a half day event, so we’ll still get into many of those topics, but in a much abbreviated format.

    We’d love to do a full day event at 914, but Mike didn’t think his members would want to pay the extra fee for the full day event (or sit through the extra 3 hours of material). Maybe you can convince him otherwise, if his box is closer to Stamford. :)

    Best,
    Melissa

  24. Megan B says

    *snicker*

    I’m a huge fan of team sports as a good complement to Crossfit. I play women’s ice hockey twice a week (one practice, one game) and play indoor over-30 women’s soccer. It’s a hoot, and I’m enjoying the fact that the improvements I’m making in my crossfit life are translating into my sports-team life.

  25. MarkM says

    My wife and I both have done Judo and Jujitsu. We are currently doing MMA with a Russian Sambo expert. He even fought Fedor Emelianenko once in Russia. Anyway, it’s intense, with an hour of technique and a half hour of sparring. You are definitely doing the “epileptic chiuaua” (kb cert lingo) on the way to your car.

  26. Lauren - Crossfit Ramstein says

    This totally just made my Friday, love it! And I agree with evreyone on the UGD feel :) Since I’m a recovering triathlete with a Crossfit problem my extra ‘sports’ usually tend to be biking and swimming as supplements to my CF WOD’s during Triathlon season (funny how it used to be the other way around!). I also decided to switch things up in August and started doing CF Football. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it and making some great strength gains. I used to do Krav Maga when I was in the states and that’s a GREAT workout! Not only do you learn some useful self defense moves for every day life, but you also release some stress punching and kicking the ever-loving daylights out of training pads and get a great workout by doing it! I really miss it a lot and they don’t have any gyms out here in Germany but they do have some pretty rad mountain biking trails that I’m looking forward to riding on the weekends before it gets too cold out here.

    I’m happy you posted this because something I think a lot of people tend to overlook in their 3 on 1 off grind is that last sentence of Coach Glassman’s Fitness in 100 words ‘Learn and play new sports.’ What good is that strong, powerful body of yours if you’re keeping it locked up in a gym all the time and not using it to do functional activities or sports!?

  27. says

    Lauren,

    Glad to hear your comment on applying fitness to new sports/activities… I’ve always thought that making exercise into a competitive “sport” was silly, though I know that lots of (competitive) CrossFitters might argue that the “sport of fitness” is just a new, legitimate arena for competition. Personally, I exercise to be better at other stuff, not just to get progressively better at exercising. But then again, I’ll never win the Games and be crowned Best Male Exerciser Of The Year. Thanks for weighing in.

  28. says

    yep, i have to agree. you’ve certainly found your voice. the Billy Blank’s Memorial Tunnel! I agree with Adam…this is some F U N N Y stuff.

  29. Adam says

    Great post! I would really like to try krav maga and bjj in the future! Used to do karate for a couple years, but sort of lost interest after a while. I reckon KM/bjj would be pretty cool, a bit more gritty and practical. Unfortunately it’ll have to wait till the $$ situation improves and I’m not really doing so good with my training atm anyway :( trying to get a power rack built so I can get back into it and start getting strong! *sigh*

  30. Kevin Green says

    Melissa,
    You had me at “Billy Blanks Memorial Tunnel”. Classic.

    As for the Muay Thai. It is great stuff. I trained daily for a few years in Korea with Thai trainers. Doing 3 minute rounds of pad work with knees, kicks, punches, and elbows will wear you out in a hurry.

    It would be interesting what you would come up with a mix cd for the class. I personally like the traditional Thai music they play at the fights. It is rhythmic and fast paced. You almost feel like you are in Lumpinee stadium hearing it live and having the tempo speed up as the action does. Great stuff IMO.

    Kevin

  31. Mildred A. says

    I had reached the same stage of CF/Strength workouts boredom and then I took a pole dancing class.

    I thought it would be a piece of cake, more technique than strength, until I woke up the day sore from scalp to feet. Come to think about it, pole dancing is what got me to start developing the strength and the scapular awareness to start doing pull ups (dead hang not the squiggly ones ha ha).

    All in all it is very gymnastics oriented. It also develops core strength, coordination and balance. Plus you are having fun the entire time. And by fun, I mean you can now shut your boyfriend/spouse up at will…um especially if you end up parking a pole in your living room. ;-)

  32. says

    Mildred,

    Glad you’ve stepped outside “traditional” training stuff to find something that’s just plain FUN. We mix in (in varying frequencies) Muay Thai, trail runs, playing around with fun gymnastics stuff, rock climbing, and (hopefully soon) more mountain biking and snowboarding. There’s more to life than the gym!

  33. Rob says

    I miss Muay Thai. I used to do lots of it in DFW, but since moving to Houston and opening CFWH. There just isn’t the time. There is nothing like doing mitts, bags and even a sparring session now and again. I do miss and crave a little contact here and there. Makes you feel alive!

    Bring your gloves in Jan. I have Thai Pads and Punch mitts. If we have time we can put in some mitt time. I used to teach some Muay Thai. It will be fun!

  34. says

    Rob,

    If we were flying straight there, we probably would bring our training gloves, but since we’ll be coming to Houston via Mexico (winter vaca with my mum and sister), we won’t have space to haul ‘em. Looking forward to our workshops at CF West Houston!

  35. Rob says

    Ah no worries. If you don’t mind other’s glove’s we have some spare’s around. Hopefully we can make some time.