Saturday, September 08, 2012

How to take a Muay Thai vacation to get in the best shape of your life

How and why you should take a Muay Thai vacation - 
In my opinion, muay thai, aside from being one of the most deadliest martial art, is also probably the most intensive (and fun!) interval training activity I've ever done. Indeed, it is called the art of eight limbs for you are using your entire body (8 limbs are arms, legs, elbow, knee x 2) to execute intense, and precise strikes at a target. Thai people train to fight, but for most people outside of Thailand, they train for fitness purposes, Muay Thai is an extremely rewarding physical exercise that I reckon burns around 500-700 calories per hour in 1 on 1 sessions.

Performing a backward elbow move in Thailand

While there are a host of gyms in HK, and in your city that will teach you muay thai, you can follow the steps below to structure a authentic muay thai gym experience in Thailand itself for a couple days of "fitness tourism". Best of all - it is both cheaper and you get more 1on1 time in Thailand than versus going to your local gym. 
  1. Do a trial session at a local gym to check out muay thai. In HK, the gym I go to is called Impakt. Other gyms include Jab, Epic, and a host of others. First session is usually free. Let me know if you need a introduction
  2. After you get hooked, look into taking a couple days off from work to do a short muay thai vacation in beautiful Thailand 
  3. There are tons of different Muay Thai gyms/camps in Thailand. Most are very hardcore and cater towards aspiring Thailand champions. Others are foreign friendly for both aspiring fighters and fitness tourists. 
  4. The top two Thai cities to do the training, in my opinion, are Chiang Mai and Phuket. Chiang Mai is the culture capital of Thailand while Phuket boasts expansive beaches. I have finished my training at Team Quest Gym in Chiang Mai, and I'm now training in Phuket at KYN Muay Thai Gym
  5. Send an email to the gym to check availability and then you are good to go. Don't worry about bringing your own gloves as the gym tends to have their own. Costs are ridiculously cheap compared to your living costs in your home country, so what are you waiting for? 
How I did it - 

My first training experience with Muay Thai was at Impakt in HK. My colleague brought me and treated me to a complimentary session with a french trainier who has fought and trained in muay thai in thailand for 10 years since he was 18 years old. A very technical trainer and very scary looking, but super sweet guy, he taught me the more intricacies of the seemingly wild moves that you would see at a boxing match. I realized that the movement of the limbs are actually an complicated combinations of motions executed at finely tuned angles with the right timing. To me, it was the technical aspect that really attracted me to this art, the intelligent dialog between two fighters which are not expressed through words but are through various techniques from their limps. 

After deciding to go to Thailand, I settled on Team Quest in Chiang Mai due to Quests's reputation in the States as well as my desire to explore the culture capital of Thailand. Training is tough. The morning session is from 7am to 9am and the afternoon session is from 4pm to 6pm, and that is not counting the optional grappling session which is from 3pm to 4pm. In total, that is 5 hours of grueling physical exhaustion per day, 6 days a week with only Sunday as the recovery day. I wasn't able to keep up in the first week at all, gassing out quickly after only 2 rounds of pads with the trainers. But in the second week, I started training strong as my body slowly adjusted to the tropical climate and the intensity of the training. 

My gym mates were from around the world. We have people from Ireland, Scotland, US, Canada, Holland, Norway, Australia, Japan, Singapore and also locally from Thailand. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was seriously intimidated when I first started training with them. These are bad-ass looking tough guys with tattoos and hard features throwing punches at a boxing gym in Thailand. And I'm just this banker dork pretending to be the next Ip Man or something. But I retained my composure and after chatting with some of them, I realized they are just regular folks just like you and I. I made friends with a Irish guy, who is around the same age as me and works as a highschool teacher in Ireland off in Thailand on his summer vacation. We even ended up taking Thai language classes together later on. 
Kicking pads while Barry, my Irish friend, is in the background

I have since finished my training in Chiang Mai and landed this week in Kao Yao Noi, which is a lovely little island 30 mins away from Phuket. The people are fantastic, and you really can't beat the beach front views. 
View from my room in Kao Yao Noi Camp
Gym is right on the beach

All in all, my experience so far at muay thai camp has been excellent and I'm en-route to being in the best shape of my life!


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Stacey said...

Sounds great! I'm going to Thailand in 3 weeks for vacation and would love to try out Muay Thai classes when I'm there.

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