We’ve all seen the signs around town for EPIC MMA Club – featuring super fit instructors in martial arts gear staring you down, my first impression was that this club looked seriously intimidating!
EPIC MMA Club is Hong Kong’s first high-end mixed martial arts club, boasting top facilities and the world’s best mixed martial arts fighters and instructors. I decided to brave three martial arts classes and find out just how intimidating EPIC really was… Would it be a sweaty smelly hardcore gym full of buff men who’d been doing martial arts since they were in diapers? Would everyone take one look at me and roll their eyes at this out-of-shape beginner? Would I be the only girl in the class? And would this just be too damned hard?!
Day 1: Muay Thai
Referred to as the ‘Art of Eight Limbs’, Muay Thai is considered one of the most effective striking arts, using punches, kicks and elbow and knee strikes as its eight ‘points of contact’. I’m warmly greeted by our instructors, Mosi (one of the top ten Muay Thai boxers in the world) and Ton (his ultra experienced Thai trainer), and the other male students in class are also friendly, making it a very unintimidating atmosphere. After getting my hand wraps tied and gloves on, we dive straight into a warm-up.
This is no gentle stretching and light cardio. Instead, we begin with one of my least favourite activities: jump roping… for ten minutes! Combined with sit-ups, push-ups (modified for ladies) and running drills, I’m already ready to call it a day – but no, we’re only just getting started!
Mosi and Ton take turns patiently working with me and another beginner to teach us the basics of Muay Thai, demonstrating how to kick, point your toe, punch, stand and guard your face. It’s a lot like regular boxing but with additional legwork and some different techniques too.
We move onto practicing on our own, with instructors and on the bags. I’m quickly feeling strong, tough, powerful and energized, and the time flies by. We then move onto drills and partner work and before I know it, it’s time to cool down. I feel great afterwards and am not at all sore the next day, but feel toned and strong. The only downside is my hands stink for the next few hours – buying your own hand wraps and gloves may be the way to go!
Day 2: Cross Fitness
Cross Fitness was the class I was dreading the most – forget moderately challenging full body workouts, this is a hardcore group training session!
Designed to promote functional fitness, Cross Fitness focuses on helping students achieve the optimal mix of flexibility, core strength, balance and endurance. As EPIC promises, “You’ll be a machine by the time you leave.”
Our instructor Karl is a better looking version of Tom Hardy’s ‘Bane’ in The Dark Knight Rises – big, buff, covered in tattoos and definitely a bit intimidating! A former Ex-British Army sniper, bodyguard in hostile environments and elite athlete coach, I know I’m in for a hard workout.
Our warm-up starts innocently enough using a plastic pole to effectively stretch my shoulders, arms and back. Things quickly take a turn for the worse as we transition into a series of killer drills, including sit-ups, push-ups, kettle bells and squat thrusts. Ten minutes in and I think I’m going to die!
Like it or not, this is not a class where you can hide and go for the low impact option. Karl keeps a close eye on all of us and works with me on my form, pushing me to keep going despite my protestations. As some of us start to slow down, Karl tells us to go “Balls Out!” After a number of other equally intense drills, I am spent and beyond relieved when we get to stretch at the end. Needless to say, I can’t walk or move my arms properly for three days after!
That said, I spoke with a girl from class called Clare who absolutely flew through the drills barely breaking a sweat… and it was her second class of the day! Having started Cross Fitness only two and a half months ago, she said it had dramatically improved her fitness and made her a lot more toned. She also raved about the sense of community and friendships formed at EPIC. While not for the faint hearted, there’s no doubt that you’d get fit doing Cross Fitness very very quickly!
Day 3: Capoeira
A Brazilian martial art, Capoeira combines martial arts and dance, leading to increased flexibility and fitness.
Being a big fan of dance, I instantly enjoy the graceful strength, power and coordination Capoeira demands as we learn to ginga, alongside other basic moves. I’m also pleasantly surprised to see a lot of guys in the class and everyone is friendly, giggling and having a lot of fun.
We learn how to kick, block and do cartwheels; then we move into a traditional circle where we ‘fight’ our opponent after cartwheeling in, finishing the class with a drill of kicks followed by stretching.
While nowhere near as tiring as the other classes, I can clearly see that once you’ve got the basics down, Capoeira would be a fun and great workout.
While EPIC MMA is more challenging than your traditional gym and fitness classes, there is no doubt that you’d get fit quickly and the great mix of martial arts classes on offer means you’d never get bored!
I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and unintimidating it felt, whilst the gym itself is extremely clean (and not at all smelly!). With a small student to teacher ratio, I felt like I was getting personal training in my classes and was impressed by the attentiveness of the teachers.
While the instructors push students, they don’t bully or make you feel inadequate, and there is a great sense of community and friendliness among members. As for the female factor, while there are more men than women, I saw plenty of ladies taking classes having a great time and many told me how comfortable they feel at EPIC.
All in all, if you’re looking to get fit, are bored of traditional gyms and interested in martial arts, EPIC MMA is definitely worth checking out!
EPIC MMA Club, 1/F, Aon China Building, 29 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, 2525 2833
Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Jacquelyn recently arrived to Hong Kong and is having a great time exploring this dynamic city! With a background in public affairs, she has lived in six countries, travelled to over 30 and thus looks forward to exploring more of Asia (any tips or must-visit places, let her know!). Her interests include public speaking, world politics, writing, dancing, yoga, scuba diving, cooking, reading, movies and women’s issues.