I am no great martial artist.
In fact, I’d say I struggle to be average in both athleticism and skill, but that doesn’t stop me from loving various forms of martial arts and dabbling in them whenever I can. But I also have an interesting and diverse perspective into the world of martial arts since I live and travel abroad. Therefore, I routinely get to visit places like Thailand, where I can try my hand (and foot, and knee, and elbow) at Muay Thai, boxing gyms in the Philippines where I live, or even train with some of the best in the world like when I’m lucky enough to be invited to the Judd Reid Kyokushin Karate Fight Camp.
That being said, I need A LOT more practice, both to stay fit and to work the rust off so I can do these various sports and combat arts justice.
Just having moved to my new neighborhood here in the McKinley Hills area of Taguig in Manila, I was looking for a local martial arts gym where I could train regularly, especially this time of year since I’m headed to the aforementioned Judd Reid Fight Camp in Thailand in January 2019.
As with most things in the Philippines, the search was a little confusing and information elusive, but I eventually found a branch of the Fight Factory chain of martial arts gyms right here in my ‘hood, only about a ten-minute walk up the hill (it’s a good warmup).
Located in the high-end portion of the neighborhood surrounded by the Venice Grand Canal Mall and elite Korean and Chinese schools, Fight Factory looks like any other retail storefront, and you might miss it if you’redriving by.
By the do have floor to ceiling windows on the front, and that’s how I first spotted it walking by. Going in, the floorplan is definitely undersized. In fact, it’s only as big as a large studio apartment or so, with a low ceiling. But it does have the usual martial arts gym equipment, with a hard rubber floor, wall-length mirror on one side, and a heavy bag, kicking bag, speed bag, and punching station.
Additionally, they have some fitness equipment like cones, ladders for footwork drills, kettlebells, a squat rack, and a rack of dumbells – although finding space to use those is most challenging.
They also have bins so patrons can put their stuff in their while training, and restrooms by the front desk. They also have a boxing ring upstairs, but they don’t really use it for regular client workouts for some reason – maybe because that’s the place for trainers to relax and even sleep during their very long work days when there are no clients coming in.
Despite the small size, I found the trainers to be pretty good there. They know their stuff and really put in work with you on high-intensity, fast-paced rounds of mitt work for boxing or with Muay Thai pads for kicks, knees, etc.
Like any good gym, everything is dictated by a clock with 3-minute rounds and 30 seconds of rest in between, signaled by loud buzzers.
The usual drill is that you warm up with two sets of jump rope, shadow box for a round or two, and then jump right in with three rounds of boxing or Muay Thai. Cardio is always a challenge for me, but I’ve worked up to five action-packed srounds, and I might even go for seven today, which I always follow by torturous body conditioning where they punch and kick me to toughen up the midsection and thighs.
The only downside of Fight Factory? It’s pretty damn expensive. For instance, one MuayThai training session will cost you about $12 per session for non-members and $9 per session if you pay a yearly $40 membership fee. That’s pretty high for in Asia or the Philippines and might deter me from visiting Fight Factory regularly or looking for other options. Still, it’s a good gym with good trainers and it’s worth it for now.