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Thoughts on Choosing a Gym

I've trained in several other gyms, and I did not start off here, at Onyx. To be honest, in Singapore, the amount of Muay Thai/Boxing/MMA gyms are fairly numerous, and it is not unfair to say that you'd be spoilt for choice.

But of course, we all have different motivation and reasons before deciding to embark on this journey of martial arts. Most I meet want to lose weight, gain fitness. Others wants to learn the art, improve their skills. Whatever your considerations are, the truth is that if you're leaning towards picking up a discipline, there are signs that you should look out for, especially before and during your try out class.

The Gym.

Are you someone who cares a lot about the outlook and posh-ness of the gym? If yes, these information can be simply grabbed off the internet, or just by googling. My opinion, that where it comes to the "atas-ness" of the gym, it's a trade-off. If the gym is well furnished, it most probably means that the price point is likely to be well furnished as well. Expectations must be managed.

For me, I looked sharply at the cleaniness of the gym. It shows the level of conviction that the gym has into maintain its outlook. I want to know that the gym is being cleaned, sanitised and kept clean daily. My pet peeve, that I've experienced before, is gym mats that are sandy and unswept for ages.

The gym must also have a good vibe, and good "feel" to it. There are some gyms that just doesn't give off the right vibe. Regardless the lighting, or the smell, or the customer service; it is all a combination of the wrong things and when it comes to the line, it made the whole experience very sian right from the moment I stepped through the front doors.

The right balance to me, therefore, is definitely not a gym that has world class facilities, and is furnished like a LV flagship store. I've been to the down right kampong Muay Thai camps that are run-down as hell, but is well kept with pride. If you see the video below, of Manny Pacquiao's earlier training days, you'd get what I mean.

The Coaches/Trainers, and especially the non-training staff.

Have a deep look at the coaching staff, and the non-training staff at the gym of your choice, what is your first impression?

I'd avoid the more offensive remarks, but were you comfortable (the people and interaction aspect) whilst communicating with the folks from the gym? If you were pissed right off from the person at the reception, chances are, you're not going to enjoy the experience very much from that point on. As a typical paying consumer, I'd look out, and form my first impressions from the first guy/girl that I speak to. I remembered the days where I was a noob at this, and at that level, most gyms looked rather intimidating from the outside. From that point, 2 paths split:

One, there happens to be a friendly and professional staff that ushers my fears and doubts into a slight excitment to start learning.

Two, there happens to be a staff that speaks in a manner that basically tells you that the gym is "fighters only, you're a weakling."

And then the coaches. If the above point two was what you felt, it is also very likely that the coaches will allude to the same tonality. Were you thrown to a corner and left on your own to figure your way out? Were you able to start off with the right basics? Not withstanding the individual capability of the coaches; different coaches/trainers will have different styles, and different levels of experience. But there are common denominators amongst them.

I've met some great coaches in my years of training, and some terrible ones. The best ones, are those that are attentive, able to disect knowledge and techniques into bite sizes, and translate them into feasible workplans.

A coach/trainer should be a respectable figure. He/she is afterall, a sort of role-model to many. He need not be a encylopedia of techniques or knowledge, but should constantly seek to improve by researching or by experimenting. More importantly, a trainer/coach should uphold his morals and values in a manner in which casts no doubts in the many that he influences. That said, sharply, it means little if the coach was some sort of a champion, but say for example, is a pick pocket. How would that translate?

That said, the worst trainers that I've met are those with doubtful and shady characters. I've also met trainers in Thailand, that would place huge bets against their own fighters. I've met coaches who are junkies as well. But these are the clear cut signals of trouble, and there are also many who are not that apparent. In general, I'd lookout for signs of positivity; are the coaches happy when they are coaching? Or do they pull a long face as though it's the 2nd day of their break-up. If your coach has little to no passion in what they are doing, it is very unlikely you'd enjoy what you're doing.