By Angela Chang
With more and more gyms popping up everywhere, especially the ones that call themselves “Muay Thai trainers,” it can be difficult to tell who’s legit and who’s not.
By “legit,” I mean who actually qualifies to be a trainer. A number of things will qualify you to do anything at a particularly high level: your experience, your skills, your resume (i.e. what you’ve accomplished).
“You haven’t fought professionally? You’ve only been doing this a couple of years? You trained under your hairdresser??” These aren’t necessarily dealbreakers, but they are big red flags.
Are you unsure about your coach or trainer? Here are some signs of a high-quality Muay Thai coach. If you can’t think of your trainer and confidently check off the following five signs of a good trainer, then you may need to switch gyms – pronto!
YOUR TRAINER FREQUENTLY CORRECTS YOU
You signed up at the Muay Thai gym to learn. Even if you’re not planning on fighting, having good form and technique allows you to push harder as you get better while avoiding injury.
That said, you are not perfect and are basically there to have someone tell you what to do – correctly. If you and someone else are doing something with completely different technique and mechanics (say, throwing a jab) yet the trainer gives you both a thumbs up, see this as a potential red flag.
You should be corrected more often than not instead of being told you are doing something correctly, when in fact, you aren’t. Constructive feedback is the best way to learn.
YOUR TRAINER FREQUENTLY CHALLENGES YOU
In addition to being corrected, trainers should also be putting you to the test and encouraging you to go further.
It’s one thing to get the basic techniques down, but it’s another completely when what you’re doing is way below the level at which you are. A good trainer will push you by working on your weaknesses, encouraging you to use more power, telling you to do something faster, etc.
Whatever level you are now, you could always be better.
YOUR TRAINER DOES MORE THAN HOLD PADS
Anyone can don a belly pad and physically hold Thai pads. That certainly doesn’t mean you’re getting in quality work.
Good trainers don’t just simply hold and tell you what to do. They’re teaching you at the same time. This can be done in a number of ways, from repeated reminders of how to do something correctly to showing you a new technique.
Without imparting valuable information to you, how can one be called “trainer”? If all you’re getting from your trainer is a sweaty workout, you’re getting scammed.
YOU CAN SEE YOUR PROGRESS
If a trainer has the ability to effectively communicate their knowledge, you can and will get better with time. If your trainer is not doing that, expect to get discouraged real fast.
Progress isn’t just about how you’re feeling with your conditioning; it’s things like finally blocking kicks when you spar or using that technique you’ve been drilling on the Thai pads and finally landing it! If you’re working with a trainer for some time, expect to see results from yourself or ditch the dead weight.
YOU HAVE A TWO-WAY, POSITIVE, NON-TOXIC RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR TRAINER
Above all, the relationship you have with your trainer should generally be a positive one. While you may not become best friends with your trainer, he/she should be someone you feel you can confide in when it comes to your aspirations and goals; they, in turn, should be able to give you constructive criticism on how you can get better.
Of course, it shouldn’t all be criticism. Good trainers know when to praise and when to criticize. These trainers also don’t take out their bad day on you physically, verbally or mentally, or make you feel incompetent because you don’t understand something the first time around.
This should go both ways – your trainer looks out for you and you, when you can, look out for your trainer. Give them some of your water between rounds. If you’re headed to the gym and have extra time, ask them if they’d like you to bring them some coffee beforehand. A bit of kindness goes a long way. You two looking out for each other on some level, no matter what your goals are in the sport, from meeting your fitness goals to getting a few fights in – this is the person you want to have your back.
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