For anyone who hasn’t read my previous posts, I am in Rawai Muay Thai Training camp in Khao Lak, Thailand staying for 3 weeks (and 2 days). A sign of madness or genius? I wasn’t quite sure yet.
My motivation for coming is three fold:
- I am an overweight slob in the making. I know that sounds incredibly hard on myself but it is the harsh, truth I need to face up to. I have developed some pretty unhealthy habits during my thirties so I am getting there – I eat too much junk food, I have a little bit of a coke addiction (the fizzy drink, not the Class A illegal drug), I drink too much beer and I go through long lazy spells where I don’t exercise enough apart from random, sporadic spurts of motivation which last only weeks. I have a pre-40 beer belly. In fact, I think the beer belly started pre-30. I blame work stress and fatigue for these habits but that’s just an excuse. There is nothing wrong with the above lifestyle if that is what a person wants for themselves or if they don’t really care and I don’t judge anyone like that for one single second but it is not what I want for myself. I also understand and believe in the mental health benefits of exercise and know definitively that I am happier when I am fit, trim and healthy. Deep inside, I am a fitness and health fanatic but that person has been hidden, lost, for many years now. So I need something drastic and I hope this can be the start of a solution to find him and bring him home again. Don’t get me wrong – I am not under any illusion that 3 weeks in a Muay Training Camp is going to sort me out for life but it might put me on the right track to a healthier life style. Because if I don’t change now I am staring down the barrel of an unhealthy future.
- I used to go to Muay Thai classes in my twenties and I loved the buzz I got off the training. I have tried many sports and activities over the years and nothing has really matched that buzz, apart from maybe wave surfing. I have tried a few times to get back into Muay Thai training during my thirties but please refer to point 1.
- The social aspect – I am solo travelling so it should be a good place to come and meet and be around people. Be a part of something. It’s will hopefully be a good experience to remember as part of my travels.
When I arrived at the camp it was slightly intimidating as there was some form of special fight training going on with seriously brutal Thai’s beating the crap out of each other. Fortunately, I soon learned that wasn’t to be the training I was involved in!!
After I was shown to my room, I wondered around, spoke to some people and got to understand the lay of the land – worked out how the training worked, times, brought the gear I needed, rented a scooter for a week, explored the immediate area, paid my accommodation bill, got bit by a lot of mosquitos, went to a shop to buy some mosquito repellent etc etc.
My first session was scheduled for 7.30AM the next morning.
For some reason, I was quite nervous that evening.
I got to the training on time and here is how the first session went (and what the basic structure for all of them will be I think with variations):
- 10 minutes skipping – that’s a long time skipping I can tell you that!
- Run around the gym twenty times (by this point I was going a bit light headed already)
- Sit down and do 10 minutes stretching (my body went into angles it has never been before).
- And then this is one of the great things about this gym – they have about 15 -20 instructors in the session, maybe more, so for 5 rounds you are individually partnered up with a Thai boxing instructor and do pad work with them and they give you advice and tips, correct what you are doing wrong and really push you to your limits. My guy corrected my stance (its been a while so I had forgotten and was using more of a Western boxing stance). He actually said he could tell I had done a lot of Muay Thai boxing before (I hadn’t told him that so was quite chuffed when he said that!) but he said I was very stiff and needed to relax more. I think I have heard this before so hopefully it is something I can correct. Suddenly at the end of the 5th round he said “give me 100” so I had to punch his pads 100 times!
- Next was 5 rounds of punching bag work – just on your own working on the bags.
- After that was a 5 minute rest and you are encouraged to speak to and meet other people in the class. I got chatting to a Swedish guy and a bloke from West London who was in the army and had worked in Sark before at the Stocks Hotel. (Will be relevant to some people I know who may read this post)
- Next was technique which is different every day – that day it was sparring. The instructors do a demonstration and then you pair up with someone and copy what they do basically. Each day is different technique – clinching, low kicks, defence, Muay Boran etc. I did some sparring with an Australian guy. Nothing hardcore, just back and forth stuff.
- After that everyone has to do 200 punches and 200 kicks on the bags – seriously brutal. I started feeling really sick and faint here.
- Finally, it was stretching for 10 minutes.
- And then there was some sort of closing routine where everyone lines up against a line of the trainers and says some words, moves their arms back and forth, bows etc and shakes hands with a trainer. There is an important culture of respect in Muay Thai.
I was GOOSED. I went back to my room, showered and just lay there. I was shaking and already my muscles were starting to ache. I knew I had to get some protein down me so I hobbled out to breakfast and then I went back to my room and just lay in my bed, finding movement a little tricky. Another odd thing is that I just felt out of it – brain wasn’t working properly. Probably just the shock of what had just happened.
I was very naïve to think I could have just bowled up and done two classes a day. By the time it came to an hour before the second class at 3.00PM I had decided that I was only going to do one class a day for the first 2 – 3 days to warm into it. No point overdoing it and getting injured plus I was already seizing up.
I went for a swim in the pool they have on camp and then lay down again in my room and slept from 4.00PM – 7.00PM by accident – a terrible accident because it made it impossible to sleep that night.
The next day, I trained in the afternoon instead of the morning. The session structure was similar and the technique this day was called Muay Boran which used to be taught to the Thai military and I think (don’t quote me on this!) is where Muay Thai evolved from. We learnt some very interesting moves that day. Moves that could cause serious lethal damage if you became proficient at them.
Again, I was DOUBLE GOOSED no TRIPLE GOOSED and I went to my room and lay there feeling beaten, aching, drained, sore all over……….and happier and more buzzing then I have felt in a long time.
First impressions on the camp – I think I am going to love it here. The trainers are friendly and encouraging. They push you hard but they are not intimidating in any way. The staff are all local people and also friendly and helpful. I haven’t met the co-owner, Diana, yet. I don’t think she is around at the moment.
They have decent facilities for rest and recovery between training – a pool with sun beds and lilos, hammocks and a massage centre. There are plenty of places all around to get good nutrition, fruit juices, cheap protein, health bars, good Thai food etc.
The surrounding area is pure paradise – beautiful jungle and exotic tropical beaches – and being far from Phuket it is not too touristy either. On Saturday morning they train on the beaches. I rode around on my scooter on day two and took these photos.
Tomorrow, on day 3 of training, I am going to attempt my first double session – the 7.30 – 9.30AM session and then the 4.00PM – 6.00PM session. I reckon its time to get QUADRUPLE GOOSED………….bring it on.
I will post weekly or bi-weekly updates on my time here………