Mixed-martial-arts fighting can induce cringe-worthy looks from spectators at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), yet there’s another reaction that likely strikes viewers: Those guys are in seriously good shape!
What puts many MMA fighters in such prime physical condition is Muay Thai, a combat sport that’s a form of kickboxing and incorporates punching, throwing and clenching techniques. Originating in Thailand, the sport requires exceptional mental and physical discipline, and Delon Nelson is here to teach it.
Nelson, the owner of D&I Fitness, has practiced Muay Thai for 15 years. A certified instructor himself, he recently spent a week in Thailand under a master teacher to become a certified Kru, the highest honor for a Muay Thai practitioner.
Nelson’s workouts are performed in a 2,500-square-foot room that houses free weights and a 100-pound punching and kicking bag. Nearby, there’s space for exercises such as tire jumping, medicine-ball tossing and hitting a tire with a sledgehammer.
Nelson’s training philosophy is simple: “If you’re committed to whatever it is — Muay Thai kickboxing, strength training — you’ll get the results,” said Nelson, who will open a second studio in South Orange, N.J. August 15.
Nelson explained that his clients typically get the hang of Muay Thai as soon as the second workout — although major physical change takes six to eight weeks.
The benefits of practicing Muay Thai are numerous, according to Nelson. For women, it offers a way to learn self-defense and sustain an intense workout without bulking up. For men, Muay Thai can be a physical workout as grueling as any weight-lifting program.
If you go:
138 E. 57th St., 7th floor. $110 to $125 per hour for a private session delonnelson.com
Check out other martial-arts gyms to get in shape:
Evolution Muay Thai: This Chelsea-based gym offers Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu jitsu and wrestling classes. ($155 per month or $20 per class, evolutionmuaythai.com)
Five Points Academy: Muay Thai is offered in addition to kali, judo and traditional conditioning at this Canal Street gym. ($249 per month or $204 per month for three months, academyfivepoints.com)
Chu Thai Chi: Located in Times Square, Grand Master C.K. Chu — a former physics professor — leads most of the classes teaching this ancient form of excercise and self-defense. ($150 per month, chutaichi.com)
Gotham Martial Arts: This Upper East Side gym specializes in the Korean martial art of Taekwon-Do. Other disciplines such as Qi Gong, Wing Chun and a women’s self-defense class are available. ($119-$219/month, nyctkd.com)