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What to look for in a first gym?


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I'm looking to find a gym to learn muay thai in Madrid (if anyone got specific recs it'd be wonderful)

I went to a trial class in one, and while the atmosphere was really fun (and there were 4 girls, I miss having other girls in gyms!) it was 75% sparring. I'm not sure if it was an isolated sparring class or if it's always like that, but while I had a blast I feel like I only applied MMA I already knew.

I don't know if that's a good way to learn or not. I was thinking of looking at other gyms but I'm not sure what to look for, specially in an entry level class. I'm not even sure the class I went to was basic at all! I have also been to a muay thai seminar before and it was all technical, but it was a guest teacher at my regular gym.

So tl;dr what kind of training is good for a beginner? more technique? more sparring? lots of conditioning? I'd appreciate any info!

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It's hard to find out everything in the first session so I would recommend going for a full week or two before committing to any memberships. What's right for others may not be right for you. For me a good gym would be one which has active fighters at different levels (preferably has female fighters), has enough good padholders for people training for fights, encourages females and males to train together, and has sparring and/or clinching on most (if not all) days. If you are considering fighting anytime in the future, try to get an idea of what kind of opportunities would be available to you. 

At my gym we have days when we spar or clinch for most of the session..you definitely get a lot more out of those days than when we try to fit everything in and only have time to spar/clinch for a couple of rounds. But I would expect conditioning drills, 3-5 rounds pad work, and some technique instruction most days of the week.

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It's hard to find out everything in the first session so I would recommend going for a full week or two before committing to any memberships. What's right for others may not be right for you. For me a good gym would be one which has active fighters at different levels (preferably has female fighters), has enough good padholders for people training for fights, encourages females and males to train together, and has sparring and/or clinching on most (if not all) days. If you are considering fighting anytime in the future, try to get an idea of what kind of opportunities would be available to you. 

At my gym we have days when we spar or clinch for most of the session..you definitely get a lot more out of those days than when we try to fit everything in and only have time to spar/clinch for a couple of rounds. But I would expect conditioning drills, 3-5 rounds pad work, and some technique instruction most days of the week.

Thank you! Yeah, I think this gym pretty much met those requirements, but I'm worried about it having too much sparring. At my current level, I'm just practicing MMA and mostly getting my ass beat instead of learning. Gyms in my country, in my experience, offer one test class and then it's sign up for a month (quite a pretty penny for me if I don't think I'll last the week) or fuck off, so I'm still dubious.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Definitely try more than one gym if you can, and try the gym you think you like more than once, on different days of the week before deciding. It's the people in the gym that make it what it is, so seeing how you fit into that or like/dislike it is important. But just look for how engaged the other students are and whether the coach is someone you like.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all the advice! I've decided to look around other gyms for a month before deciding or anything. Even though the first one met most of the requirements, I'm actually scared to go again - I really got my ass kicked that day! I'm not good enough for a good gym yet, I guess, it's so embarrassing to admit it! ;( a couple of the people were too agressive for me to handle at my level and I think it'd take away all the fun. And I'm determined to enjoy this, dammit! ><

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I'm not good enough for a good gym yet, I guess, it's so embarrassing to admit it! ;( a couple of the people were too agressive for me to handle at my level and I think it'd take away all the fun. And I'm determined to enjoy this, dammit! ><

I don't think there is such a gym. I mean even pro mma gym like Tristar (seems like yours was also a mma gym) accept and teach to newbies. The too agressive type were probably middle ranger people happy to kick the shit out of someone for once or maybe it's just a bad gym. A good gym with a good head trainer won't let beginners get their ass kick for nothing. Nobody learns anything in these situation. When I spare with a newbie I basically only work on my defence and let them try to catch me. Also, one rule of thumb I follow is the closer to my house the gym is, the better it is. Helps to be steady if the gym is five minutes away for the days where you'll be tired, lazy or a bit beaten. Good luck and you're good enough for any gym :)

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I don't think there is such a gym. I mean even pro mma gym like Tristar (seems like yours was also a mma gym) accept and teach to newbies. The too agressive type were probably middle ranger people happy to kick the shit out of someone for once or maybe it's just a bad gym. A good gym with a good head trainer won't let beginners get their ass kick for nothing. Nobody learns anything in these situation. When I spare with a newbie I basically only work on my defence and let them try to catch me. Also, one rule of thumb I follow is the closer to my house the gym is, the better it is. Helps to be steady if the gym is five minutes away for the days where you'll be tired, lazy or a bit beaten. Good luck and you're good enough for any gym :)

That's true about the distance; this gym was really close to my place, so I'm sad about it not being a good fit. I'm pretty sure it's exclusively a muay thai gym, my regular gym(s) are the MMA ones.

I didn't quite exactly get my ass kicked, as in no bad injuries. But I know that if I had been completely new to martial arts (and not just muay thai) I would have ended in bad shape. I had fun because I was dodging/blocking cool, fast movements. I didn't have fun because I kept telling everyone "hey I'm new please go easy on me" and some of them would still say "yeah ok" then throw me hits too fast that I could barely dodge or block, and hard enough that if I didn't they would have KOed me.

Sure, maybe they were still throwing what they consider easy, maybe everyone here would laugh at me freaking out over nothing, but I know what I can handle, and that wasn't it. So I really think I can't keep up with that class! :( At the same time it's so embarrasing that I had to ask people to go easy on me, and that even doing so, I could barely make it! I hate to come across as the whiny girl who is scared to get hit, I feel like I'm helping perpetuate harmful stereotypes by being shitty. So even if I can manage and stay as the worst in the class it seems like a bad idea, because I won't just be the least skilled person, but also the one that can't handle getting kicked.

I admit this has even made me wary of trying further gyms. I've spoken to other two ones but i haven't been able to settle on a date because I keep pulling it off to ensure I'm in top form and can handle whatever they throw me.

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By get your ass kicked, I meant just been dominated. If on top you asked for people to go easy and they did not and it was not only one dude, then maybe the culture of that gym suck. As for being a girl, well I could not know but I often ask to go easy, especially the first few rounds, and I am usually the biggest man in the gym. I just enjoy more a technical, controlled sparring session over a sloppy slug fest although you do need to practice for these once in a while.

Also, you don't need to spare on the first day, week, month. You spare when you feel ready for it. I often see newbies sparring and I wonder what exactly are they suppose to practice in sparring if they can throw a decent jab, you know?

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