Before I left the UK back in November I had knew that I would be visiting Thailand and I thought that I would try out a Muay Thai training camp, especially after I had spoken to one of my friends who had been out here to visit Tiger Muay Thai gym. I had heard good things about it from him, so I decided to go. As I mentioned in my previous post about Bangkok, I had a pretty drunken time out in Bangkok and I knew it would be before I went there. I saw it as my last proper time of drinking before I started training properly.
After flying in from Bangkok to Phuket airport, feeling completely rough due to all the drinking the night before, I got a taxi straight down to Tiger Muay Thai gym in an area called Chalong. It’s on the South Eastern side of the island. There is one main road, a small road, called Soi Ta-ied. I got out of the taxi and started walking around looking for somewhere to stay.
Accommodation Near Tiger Gym
I asked around at a few places and the lowest I could find at a place that looked pretty good was 13,500 bhat for 1 month. This was at Muay Thai House. It was clean, spacious and right in the middle of the street so close to everything that I needed. They clean everyday, have a laundry service so you just leave your clothes in the wash basket outside your door and pick it up again usually the same day around 6pm! Just like living back at home…You also get a TV, attached bathroom, really good air conditioning and a swimming pool.
I have no complaints with Muay Thai House, I loved it there. Highly recommended. The only thing I would mention is that the walls to adjoining rooms are not all that thick so you have to hope that you don’t have noisy neighbours. In general, though, most people staying there are looking to train and not go out drinking to all hours of the night.
Lower Cost Accommodation
I decided that I wanted to lower my costs for the 2nd month so I went on the hunt. I found out that the Anchan Boutique Hotel have a hostel. It’s not like your conventional hostel, you get your own room, air-con, attached bathroom and access to use the pool at the main Anchan Hotel which is directly across the road. There is a desk, large LCD TV and large fridge. Everything you need to be comfortable. The rooms are basic and small, but I was only paying 10,000 bhat a month so that’s a big saving.
The only complaint I would have are that there were a lot of bugs and ants in the room. The door was night tight against the frame so they could get in and whatever material the building is made out of the ants love building their colonies inside it. Ants in your pants!
Note: this is not reflection on the actual Anchan hotel which is amazing, it was just way out of my price range at the time.
UPDATE: Since returning to Chalong after 2 weeks in Kuala Lumpur I moved into another place called Baan Khun Yui. It is rung by a lady called Yui who is really helpful and friendly. She has two places, one right at the end of the street called Bann Khun Yui 1 and another one slightly further up the road called, yes you guessed it, Bann Khun Yui 2! This is the cheapest place I stayed and really worth it. Large rooms, clean, shared kitchen, paid washing machine which is cheaper than giving your laundry to the shop and good sized beds, includes a large bathroom and air conditioning.
As I write this post this will be my 6th week of training. I signed up to 1 month at Tiger gym mainly because I was recommended to go there from a friend but also because I needed to in order to get a 3 month visa in Nepal. After that I did 1 week at Unit-27, followed by 1 week off for the full moon party and now I am back at a combination of Unit 27 a Yoga studio down the road and Tiger. Here is what I think about them all…
Tiger Muay Thai Gym
This place has so much potential. It’s been there the longest time out of all the gyms, around 12 years I believe. They have large facilities, lots of employees, many trainers and offer a selection of fighting and fitness classes. You can fo BJJ, Muay Thai, Krabi Kabong, Muay Boran, Western Boxing or stick to fitness classes such as body fit, running and hit the weights room.
The first thing to note is that on top of the advertised price is a 7% tax that they don’t tell you about. I assume this is because they turn over a large amount of money and therefore are liable for tax but I’m not sure.
The costs are roughly the same as most of the other gyms, if you exclude the 7% tax, perhaps a little higher than average in fact. You have mainly two choices. Do you want to do a fighting schedule or a fitness schedule. The difference per month is around £20, so you can have it all for a little less.
When I first found out the cost I was amazed how expensive it was. £250 for a month!? I can pay £70 a month in central London for Gymbox which has all of the classes I get out here. But that’s the price, there are a lot more instructors and they are of a higher standard.
I have to say that I was not impressed by the level of teaching at Tiger. Having boxed for 2 years in London I knew how to throw punches and move around, but that was boxing, muay thai is different. I was expecting a full breakdown of how to stand, move my feet, kick, elbow, etc. It never happened. You are thrown into a beginner class which is 2 hours long with many trainers (almost a 1 to 1 ratio of trainers to students) and there is very little effort put into technique. I wanted technique, we all needed technique. We were beginners, flailing our arms and legs around with no clue how to effectively kick, elbow and knee.
The trainers have totally lost motivation. I’m not surprised, the classes follow the same format every single day. There is no variation in what you do, so it became boring very quickly. Not only that but in order to push yourself and learn more you need to mix it up. Sure, I definitely agree that you need to repeat the basics over and over but there is more than one way to repeat them.
My overall impresion was that Tiger is for a very touristy crowd who are coming there for 1-2 weeks, have never done much training so find it entertaining enough to learn a few things in that time. If you want to get some real tuition you need to take the 1 to 1 private sessions which cost a lot more. I now refer to Tiger as the jack of all trades, master of none gym. You can try out loads of different things there but never excel in any one.
I saw Unit 27 because it is on the same road as Tiger, just 100m up the road. It is a new facility and dedicated to conditioning, be it strength, speed, endurance or any other kind of conditioning. Total body conditioning is what they say I believe and I totally agree. I love this gym and it delivers.
The costs are not too disimilar to the other gyms on the road but in my experience the difference lies in their willingness to adapt to what you want to do. They are open to different plans that are not on their list of packages which are more suited to what you want to do. This really makes you feel appreciated and that your business counts.
I’ve trained a lot over the years, for various sports such as boxing, 10km runs, Ironman and just generally at many gyms so I feel that I’ve experienced a lot of coaching and workout plans. I can honestly say that what the guys are doing here is incredibly good. Everything has a justified reason as to why they are doing it and they explain it to you. The classes are very different, they have a focus and a goal in terms of what you are trying to achieve from that session. It’s great.
The level of change I have seen since training there is much larger compared to a much larger time when I was training at Tiger, mainly because it’s not just all cardio based. They use a lot of resistance training methods in order to build strength and power which drastically improves your physique and quickly. It’s a great fat burner, too, by the way.
Overall, if you want great conditioning which is varied, a lot of fun and gets results fast you should check out Unit 27. No question about it.
The one class I loved at Tiger was the yoga session. The instructor at the time was called Jaroon and he was Thai. He had such enthusiasm for what he did and looked like he loved teaching it that you couldn’t help but feel motivated too. I was new to yoga but he got me hooked on it really. He changed it up, too, somedays doing power yoga, twisting and other times a more traditional type. But he always mixed it up and changed what we did to keep us engaged and also had various levels of each move for beginners to advanced.
It’s such a shame that I wasn’t able to go back for just this class but it was going to cost so much more for me to do that when compared to the place I started going to which was called the Little Yoga Room.
This place is run by a young woman called Becky who is English. It’s a small place around 2km away from Tiger so it was a good opportunity to run down there and get a little more exercise done in the process. Because it’s small there is a high chance that there will only be 1 or 2 people in the class. That’s great because you get a lot of attention. Becky is a great instructor, very relaxed and welcoming.
Where to Train in Phuket
It depends on what your goals are. If you want to burn fat and get in good shape then I would highly recommend Unit27 because that’s what they specialise in and you will get results if you continue going to their classes while sticking to a reasonably good diet. If you are after more muay thai, you should check out a few places before you commit to anything. There are loads of gyms around. Along the main road near to Tiger there is Dragon and Phuket Top Team that you should also try out. There are other places, too, all around the island.
UPDATE: I have since trained at another gym called Titan. The actual gym is two floors with a yoga studio on the top floor. It has more equipment when compared to any other gym area on the street in terms of traditional weight training style stuff. The place is not air conditioned. They also run classes which I have not been to yet but I am planning on going to one which is outdoors because they have a large obstacle course there which looks like a lot of fun.
If you want to try a bit of everything before you commit to one then Tiger is a good choice because you get a sample of everything. When you have made your mind up what you want to do you can tailor your training schedule to suit what you want to do.
Good luck and feel free to ask any questions that you might have in the comments below.