Muay Thai is a great way to keep fit but Dr Amber Giles of Noosa District Animal Hospital in Queensland also loves the physical and mental discipline.
“My brother is responsible for my involvement with Muay Thai. He used to do it and claimed that it was much harder than any exercise I had undertaken. So during my last year of uni in 2012, I started doing Muay Thai twice a week.
“Initially I looked at it as something a bit different to keep me fit. Then, in 2014, I moved to Cairns and started to go more frequently. I got to know the people involved and discovered a very active community. I also learnt about the background and history of Muay Thai and that really appealed to me. Eventually I was practising seven days a week.
“A session generally starts with seven rounds of three minutes working out with the pads. That’s followed by running and weight exercises, and then some sparring. It’s a very intense workout.
“I’ve been in a few tournaments but Muay Thai is a very male-dominated sport. There are more females getting involved but it’s sometimes difficult to be matched up in a competition.
“My trainer is a Thai man and he took some of us to Thailand. We travelled to a lot of rural areas and trained in gyms that were basic but full of energy. We also watched professionals compete at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok.
“I’m back at uni at the moment furthering my veterinary science studies so Muay Thai has been put on hold. However, I’ll definitely be competing again in the future—I really enjoy the challenge of training and preparation.
“Muay Thai is a very physical sport but everything is made as safe as possible. The padding and the rules—no knees, no elbows in an amateur bout—are all designed to keep the participants safe. I broke my foot in a training accident but haven’t suffered serious damage during a bout.
“I really like the challenge of mastering the technique of Muay Thai. There’s a fascinating culture surrounding it too. Wai kru, the dance that competitors do at the start of a fight, shows thankfulness and respect for the person who trained them. It’s also nice to know that if I was ever in a bad situation, I have the techniques for self-defence.”