By Jose Villarisco – Choosing the right Muay Thai gym plays a critical role in your enjoyment of this martial art, and your ability to fulfill your physical, mental, and spiritual goals.

At one time, the final decision was almost made for you, since there were very few Muay Thai academies in existence, at least here in the United States. That has changed considerably in the last twenty (20) years, with both specialized Muay Thai gyms and general martial arts academies sprouting up like mushrooms!

The growth of Muay Thai has been both a blessing and a curse from a casual athlete/weekend warrior perspective. It’s great to have so much choice, but that means it’s also Buyer Beware when trying to pick out the best gym for you.


To help you choose the right Muay Thai academy, consider the three (3) major issues that can really make a difference in your gym search:

1. Meet the Trainer in Person to judge if he right for you.

If I were a new Muay Thai student starting out today, the most important thing on my list would be finding the best instructor possible. Martial arts in general but Muay Thai in particular place great value on the student-teacher relationship. Even in today’s fast-paced technological world, success usually comes down to the trust and confidence you have in the people around you. It’s no different for our sport.

Open Houses and local “Sports Days” are not always the best times to have all your questions answered. So, try to arrange a formal appointment with the instructor at the gym and keep the following in mind:

Does this instructor teach authentic Muay Thai, and is the gym a true Muay Thai academy?
What kind of fighting, training and coaching background does the person have?
Are the certifications legitimate?
Is the instructor prepared to make a personal commitment to YOU?
Can you get along with the instructor on a personal level?
Does the instructor show genuine passion for Muay Thai?


2. What are the Muay Thai Training Facilities Like?

You should check out the Muay Thai facility personally as you would an ordinary gym prior to signing a contract. This is an important way to learn about its business history, working atmosphere and the camaraderie amongst current members. Ask for a guided tour – if it’s from the owner/instructor, great. Regardless, keep some questions in mind as you walk around the facility:

How long have you been in business, and what is your current membership size?
Do you cater to beginners?
Check out the floor plan. How many rings are there for sparring? Are the exercise rooms, weight rooms, and dedicated classrooms for instruction large enough?
Equipment: Are the cardio machines, heavy bags, and resistance training equipment clean and in top working order?
Get a feel for the gym culture. Do members look like they are enjoying themselves while working out?
Importance of Cleanliness and Hygiene. Locker rooms with showers?

3. Convenience, Pricing, and Staff Friendliness.

Even if the trainer and facilities exceed your expectations, other factors may still prevent you from joining the club. For example, the required classes may not fit your schedule, or the time demands may seem too much to handle right now. Maybe the location of the gym is not to your liking?

Of course, price is never far from one’s mind and we would never recommend that you compromise your budget for any new endeavour. At the same time, I must say that the happiest clients are often the ones who are not bargain hunters, i.e. they know what they want and see their membership fees as an investment, not as an expense. In the end, you are the best judge of your Muay Thai goals and how far you are willing to go to achieve them.

Gotta have a friendly staff, right? You’ll have to accept that they really want you as a member and may on occasion be a bit overzealous with sales pitches. That being said, I’ve always been able to judge people pretty well, and I’m sure you can judge whether the gym staff has your best interests at heart: Do they greet you with a smile? Do they track your progress and ask for your feedback? Do they phone you if you don’t show up for a week, or are they just happy taking your money? Referrals are a good way to get the inside story.

–Kru Jose’ Villarisco


Check out one of the best Muay Thai programs in the country

OutFox Mixed Martial Arts Academy
3440 Chandler Creek rd. #104
Virginia Beach, VA 23453