Muay Thai is an ancient martial art form and the national sport of Thailand. It's also a really good workout. Muay Thai is similar to kickboxing. The main difference is that pugilists can strike above and below the belt (whereas lower body blows are a kickboxing no-no).
Also called the "Art of Eight Limbs," Muay Thai relies on eight points of contact. The fists, elbows, knees and shins are all bona fide weapons used to kick, punch and strike a punching bag or a heavily padded instructor.
Benefits of Muay Thai: Jump roping, shadow boxing and Rocky-worthy bag work are part and parcel of Muay Thai training, helping to build strength, speed and stamina.
Who Muay Thai is best for: Those who have a penchant for martial arts-inspired classes should get a kick out of Muay Thai. Classes are taught in gyms, private studios and with personal trainers. Students either "fight" an instructor or practice on a punching bag.
Getting ready: Beginners should work out with a skilled Muay Thai practitioner, since technique is as important as wearing protective gloves, hand wraps and shin guards.
Calories burned: Muay Thai classes can burn a significant amount of calories—exactly how many will depend on the dimensions, metabolism and intensity of the boxer.
Heartthrob Ashton Kutcher learned Muay Thai while preparing to star in the 2010 blockbuster Killers, the exercises which were key for helping him get into spy-mode.
Muay Thai is a demanding form of physical fitness. For safety's sake, it is generally recommended that obese, asthmatic and diabetic trainees consult a physician before signing up to spar.
Who shouldn't do it: As a sport, Muay Thai can be very dangerous, leading to broken elbows, knees and other bones. But when performed under the guidance of a physical trainer, Muay Thai can be a safe and exciting way to stay physically fit. Overextending or locking your arms or legs while punching or kicking can result in muscle, tendon and joint strains and injuries.