From six days a week of Muay Thai training in Thailand over the last few weeks there are a few things I have quickly learned are essentials! If you are a Muay Thai beginner like I was (and, uh, very much still am!), read on for a complete list of gear you'll need for your training.
I've sorted this into two lists: Gear, and other essentials.
Depending on your Muay Thai gym most gear can be borrowed, however this can be a little gross and smelly (Muay Thai is one VERY sweaty sport!).
I have a pair of Twins 12oz gloves (pink, of course!). Gloves are sized depending on the thickness of the padding, most gloves range from 8oz to 16oz. It would pay to check with the gym you plan on training at to check their requirements, as some may require 16oz gloves for beginners. I'm happy with my 12oz and would recommend this size for a beginner female, these protect your fists pretty well and I probably don't punch hard enough to get sore hands anyway! I purchased these on Koh Samui in a local Muay Thai store and they cost me about NZD$80. If you buy locally make sure you buy from a reputable Muay Thai store to ensure your gear is authentic. Also make sure you try them on to make sure they fit, they shouldn't be tight, you'll probably be wearing hand wraps underneath so there needs to be some space.
Can be purchased for pretty cheap (around NZD$10) but I've been borrowing mine so far. We wear these for most of the training session, also beneath our gloves. Hand wraps make me feel bad-ass.
At least two full sets of sports clothing
More if you can fit it in your luggage! Two hours of Muay Thai training in Thailand will have you dripping with sweat, unlike anything you've experienced before. Imagine a two hour workout in a hot yoga studio and you'll begin to get the idea! I have two sports bras, two workout shorts and two tops plus a few pairs of socks that I've been hand-washing and rotating. I wish I had more!
Despite being barefoot for all the technique/skill training and while you're in the ring, the first 20-30 minutes of our classes are always dedicated to a cardio warm-up. You'll likely start with a run or skipping rope, if you don't have shoes you'll have no option other than the torture of the skipping rope. Bring shoes and make sure you give yourself the choice of going for a run!
Shinguards (not essential)
Mostly to be worn during sparring to protect your shins. I haven't sparred (don't fancy getting punched in the face, thanks!) so I don't have any - though I do have multiple bruises on my shins!
Mouthguard (not essential)
Again, if you're planning on sparring you'll probably need one of these.
Groin Guard (not essential)
Only if you plan on serious sparring.
Muay Thai shorts (not essential)
Most of the guys wear Muay Thai shorts to training, but can I point out that most of these guys are pros, or have been training for years! I'd like some Muay Thai shorts but am waiting until I feel confident in my skill before I go ahead and buy some. Just a worthwhile note for other females, I have read that the pink shorts are typically worn by the elite - as in you earn the right to wear pink. I don't think it would be too big of a deal, but its probably safer to avoid the pink shorts and choose another colour instead.
This is just to give an idea of other items you'll need over the month that are related to your Muay Thai training. You can buy these along the way and top up as needed.
Remember the sports clothing I mentioned above? Yep, after each session you'll be hand-washing it straight away in the shower/sink and hanging it out to dry for your session the next morning. Washing powder does a much better job of removing the sweat stench (an unfortunate truth) than hand soap. Trust me.
Shampoo and conditioner
Your hair will be so drenched with sweat after each training session that you'll be dying to jump straight into the shower and wash it. If you're training twice a day you'll be washing and conditioning your hair twice a day too. I thought I'd get away with just washing my hair every now and then, but no, this kind of sweat-head is too far gone for dry shampoo to fix.
Dont skimp on drinking water! I feel sorry for people who unknowingly turn up to class with a small 600ml water bottle, which is maybe enough to get through the first half hour of class. Especially in Thailand's heat, you're going to need at least a 1.5 litre bottle per session. Because you can't drink tap water in Thailand, its cheapest to buy them in 6 packs (around 50-60 baht, $2 NZD), and store them in your room.
Plasters, strapping tape and antiseptic cream
Blisters on your feet are common, as is taking the skin off your knuckles. Strapping tape is essential as band-aids alone will slip off the moment you start sweating! Be sure to use antiseptic cream on any wounds as you're standing in other people's sweat all the time - yuck.
You don't want your hair falling out, especially not while you're in the ring with your gloves on - annoying! Invest in plenty of durable, strong hair-ties. On that note make sure your hairstyle is going to work for you - instead of a ponytail, I usually wear mine in a tight bun or a french braid, as I find my hair comes out less knotty after two hours of training. Knotty hair does not make for a happy Christie, Alan will attest to that.
Unfortunately this isn't something you buy, but you'll certainly need it none-the-less. Particularly if you have never done martial arts/boxing before you are going to be incredibly frustrated with your uselessness, just like I was. Instead of being embarrassed every time the trainers come around and correct your form, take what they are saying onboard and try as hard as you can not to make the same mistake again! There is a lot to learn and it just takes time, commitment and patience.
If I discover anything else over the next couple of weeks I'll add it to this list, but for me as an absolute beginner I feel that this covers the essentials. Let me know if you've got any further suggestions!
Would you be interested in training Muay Thai in Thailand?