Trying to lose weight is a struggle that many people are familiar with. In fact, 49 percent of adults surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 2013 and 2016 had tried to lose weight in the previous twelve months, whether for health, appearance, competition, or other purposes.
While there are many trends and strategies that people have recommended to lose weight, the basic math behind weight loss is that the calories we consume must be less than the calories we expend. Our resting metabolic rate (RMR) determines how many calories we burn at rest and differs from person to person based on factors like height, age, and body fat percentage. The rest of our weight loss progress is determined by what we eat (or don’t eat) and the calories we burn through exercise.
One of the biggest challenges people face when trying to drop a few pounds is finding an exercise routine that works for them. Traditional gyms with weights and machines aren’t for everyone, and although running is (practically) free, many people find it tedious or hard on their knees.
A growing number of people, however, are turning to martial arts gyms to aid in their weight loss journeys, trading in their running shoes for boxing gloves and shin pads. Their methodology is sound; Muay Thai and kickboxing programs can be great tools for weight loss. Not only do they provide great exercise and physical benefits, but they also have a number of elements that promote consistency and good mental health as well.
Muay Thai and kickboxing are closely related martial arts, though they aren’t identical. Muay Thai, as its name suggests, is a Thai boxing sport. Unlike kickboxing, which utilizes only punches and kicks, Muay Thai allows elbow and knee strikes as well. Muay Thai rules also permit competitors to clinch, or hold the back of their opponent’s neck with their palm for close-contact strikes with the knees and elbows. Both styles will get you in shape, and the “right choice” for you is whichever suits your personal preference.
Here’s why you should consider signing up for a Muay Thai or kickboxing class if you want to lose weight:
1- It’s a Great Full-body Workout
As you might imagine, getting in some fast-paced punches and kicks over the course of an hour-long class is a great cardio workout. Whether you’re hitting pads or sparring with a training partner, Muay Thai is guaranteed to get your heart rate up and burn some calories.
What you’ll realize when you take a Muay Thai class, however, is that you won’t just get your heart pumping. A good coach will show you how to engage a number of muscle groups to make your punches, kicks, knees, and elbows more powerful. With time, you’ll start building muscle all over your body, from your shoulders to your abs, glutes and calves. There’s evidence that increased muscle mass can slightly increase your RMR, leading to more calories burned while at rest. More importantly, as you become stronger, you’ll be less sore after your workouts, making exercise more enjoyable and less painful as time goes on.
Also read: Muay Thai Training: Comparing Golden Era Training to Modern American Muay Thai
2- It Helps you Stick to a Routine
One of the challenges of a “traditional” gym workout is that it’s easy to put off. If you know that the gym is open all day and you can stop in for some exercise at any time before or after work, it makes it that much easier to say “I’ll do it later”… or never do it at all.
Muay Thai has the benefit of operating on a schedule with a coach. If you decide that the TV show you’re watching is more important than going to train at the time you planned, you miss your window of opportunity to train, and you have to wait until the next class. The gym schedule can turn your workout routine into an actual routine, reminding you that you have to carve out the time in your day to work toward your goals.
3- You Have a Coach Showing you What to do
The idea of stepping into a gym and not knowing how to properly exercise can be as stressful as the workout itself. When you sign up for Muay Thai (or any other martial arts classes), though, you’ll have a coach working alongside you to ensure that you’re doing all the movements properly to avoid injury and maximize their effect.
Don’t be intimidated by all the technique and details involved, either. One of the things that makes Muay Thai so enjoyable is that there’s always something new to learn, making it an exercise that engages your mind as much as your body. Yes, it’ll be tough at first, but over time, your coach will help you learn a new skill as you punch and kick away your unwanted weight.
4- It’s a Social Activity.
Making friends as an adult can be tough if all you do is wake up, go to work, and come home. Muay Thai, though, is a social activity by default. When you attend class, you’ll directly interact with your teammates who will help teach and motivate you throughout your journey.
This can also be great for accountability. If you make friends in your Muay Thai class, they may start checking in on you when you’ve missed a few classes in a row. Skipping a week or two of running isn’t that hard when you know that you are the only person your choices affect, but when you skip Muay Thai class, one of your teammates may be left without a partner. If a healthy amount of guilt will get you into the gym, signing up for Muay Thai classes may be just what you need to keep coming back.
5- It Promotes a Healthier Lifestyle.
It’s not that Muay Thai practitioners don’t indulge at all, but generally speaking, these students want to improve their technique and maximize their training. Many people who start training Muay Thai soon develop healthier habits, like quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol, drinking more water, and consuming healthier foods.
This isn’t to say you’ll never get a pizza craving again, but with time, you’ll start to realize that treating your body better will improve your results in the gym. Plus, as the weight starts to come off with more exercise, you may experience a mindset shift and begin changing your diet for the better so that you don’t undo all your hard work with a bottle of soda after training. Weight loss happens in the kitchen just as much as in the gym, and when you’re working on being a better athlete, positive dietary changes might be easier than you’d expect.
Also read: How Training Can Alleviate the Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
6- It Increases Your Stamina.
If you’re new to exercise, you’ll probably get tired quickly when you start training in kickboxing or Muay Thai. In fact, these classes can be challenging enough to make even experienced gym rats a bit sore. With time, though, you’ll find that making it through a whole class will get easier and easier, and you won’t be quite so sore after your workouts.
As your body gets used to pushing itself harder, you may also discover that you have more energy throughout the day. You might even start craving more exercise and start adding strength workouts or extra martial arts classes to your routine. You might not think you’d ever be capable of turning into a fitness fanatic, but Muay Thai can give you the boost you need to stay energized both inside and outside the gym.
Adding a Kick to Your Weight Loss Plan
Whether you want to lose five pounds or fifty, Muay Thai classes might be the workout shakeup you need to build muscle, burn fat, and become healthier overall. With physical and mental benefits, this martial art can keep you on track as you pursue a healthier and happier lifestyle.