This post is a series within my travel diary describing my time at Rawai Muay Thai Training Camp in Khao Lak, Thailand and follows on from my previous post describing my first couple of days here last week and where I also described the average routine of each session.
Originally, my plan was to stay here for 2 weeks. Then as soon as I arrived, I extended it to 3 weeks. This week, I have extended it to a 4 week stay.
As I described in my first post, I had completed my first two days of training on the Friday and Saturday with single two-hour sessions. The camp runs two hour sessions twice a day – early morning and late afternoon.
Sunday is a rest day and my full intention was to complete my first double session on the Monday, attending both classes and completing 4 hours training.
I must admit a small part of me was slightly daunted on the Sunday evening with the prospect of a whole weeks of tough training ahead of me before my next rest day in 7 days but I was also raring to go, fired up, jazzed…………
MONDAY (Training day 3) – I woke up and smashed the first session. Now when I say smashed, what I mean by that is I got absolutely smashed to pieces, nearly vomited again this time while doing pad work with the trainer who kept asking if I was ok (clearly concerned that I was about to have a heart attack), finished the session with the technique that day which was power and speed kicking and then went back to my room and collapsed in a heap – feeling smashed.
One thing I forgot to mention in my last post is that you also have to do a bunch of press ups and sit ups between rounds – probably about 100 of each in total when you add it all up. My stomach, chest muscles, triceps and shoulders all felt like jelly. Broken, floppy pieces of jelly that were screaming desperately for mercy. Not to mention my legs, arms, back, wrists, feet, neck and my bones. Even my ears were aching (I am not joking and have no idea why!)
After the training and as the rest of Monday progressed, the clock ticking towards the 4.00PM session, I tried my best to recover and then as 3.00PM arrived a conflict began with my brain and my body. My brain really wanted to do the second session but my body was screaming NOOOOO!!!!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!! NO MORE!!!. In the end, my body won the battle and my brain was angry at me for breaking my personal promise.
But then I had to remind myself – I am unfit. I haven’t been in any regular training regime recently. For most of my adult life I have had my butt parked in an office chair during the working week. If I suddenly started doing 2 hours training every single day at home after work, that would be amazing. If, out of the blue, I started doing 2 hours before work and 2 hours after work that would just be insanity.
My regret soon subsided and instead I felt proud of what I had achieved so far (6 hours training in just a few days) and just decided that I would keep pushing on, listening to my body, until I felt ready for that 4 hour double session. Until my body allowed it.
TUESDAY (Training day 4) – technique that day was clinching. By the time we got to technique point of the class I thought I felt ok. Not as shattered as I normally was by that point in the session. The trainers must have telepathically sensed those thoughts as next was 5 exhausting rounds of clinching work, pushing, pulling and almost wrestling with my partner who was clearly an experienced Thai boxer. He didn’t go easy on me (despite me lying to him and telling him I was a complete beginner in the vain hope that he would go easy on me).
I was battered and the double session was still elusive. I spoke to a Swedish bloke that day and he said he didn’t make his first double session until Day 6 and as I got talking to a few people it seemed very mixed – quite a lot were just doing singles (2 hours). Sure, there were people who came to the camp who were fighting fit and ready to go from day one doing doubles (4 hours) but I had been bumming about South East Asia for 4 months. Nonetheless, this Swedish man had set the benchmark for me and I wanted to beat or at least match this record.
I wanted the 4 hour training to become a regular thing as soon as my body became capable but without pushing it too hard and overtraining or injuring myself.
WEDNESDAY (Training day 5) – I woke up in a world of pain that morning. Is it Sunday yet? Every single part of my body was aching. I couldn’t get out of bed for the morning training.
In the afternoon training that day, during the pad work I got on quite well with a trainer called Daam and booked a private lesson with him for the Friday morning.
Technique that day was kicking – taking it in turns to kick pads in various combinations. I have got quite a lot of oomph in my right kick but my left kick is…..well it’s like a limp fish to be honest. So I am going to try to focus on my left kick more on the bags and pads while I am here.
The trainers here are all a good laugh and really friendly. During the kicking, there was an English guy who was obviously experienced and was kicking the pads like an absolute beast nearly knocking the trainer off his feet but every time he kicked the trainer would just start shouting:
“YOU KICK LIKE A LITTLE GIRL”.
This would just provoke him to kick harder and harder. Lot’s of people were laughing at this.
There was a great vibe in the gym.
THURSDAY (Training day 6) – I SCORED MY FIRST DOUBLE!!!! So that is day 6. I matched the Swedish guy exactly. To be fair, the technique part of the training that morning was relatively easy but also very interesting. We learned about a ritual performed by Muay Thai fighters before a fight called Wai Kru. The ritual is sort of a dance and I think it shows respect to the trainer and has other symbolic meanings. The trainer performed some of the moves and we copied them. It was actually quite fun and almost felt like a cultural experience learning about it.
Regardless of the technique being less physical that day, after 4 hours of training including the pad and bag work, I was severely goosed (my new word) that day and slept like a baby that night looking forward to my private lesson I had booked for the next morning.
FRIDAY (Training day 7) – This morning was the day for my private lesson. I turned up at the gym and the trainer, Daam, told me to warm up for 20 minutes. I was under the impression that the private lesson might be a little easier than the group class – for one, the group class is 2 hours whereas the private lesson is 1 hour. And secondly, I thought it would be more focused on just technique. Of course, I was sorely mistaken……….
The private lesson involved one full hour of gruelling pad work where he pushed me to my physical limits. I loved it though as he did teach me lots of different techniques – some I already knew from previous training but some were brand new. He also corrected errors in my stance and moves.
I was more exhausted after this private session than any of the group classes I had been to and resolved to attend one private class per week.
As if to congratulate me on the session, one of the loudest claps of thunder I had ever heard in my life roared as I walked back to my room after the training and it rained the rest of that day.
SATURDAY (Training day 8) – I am writing these daily entries as I go along after the training each day. Yesterday, I said the private training was the hardest session of the week. I was unaware that today, I would experience training that was even tougher – beach training!
I was quite looking forward to the beach training which happens every Saturday morning. It was 7.30AM and cloudy that day so not overly hot and I thought a nice bit of pad work on a beautiful beach would be pleasant – a nice change from the stuffy gym………all I can say is that it was an incredibly brutal workout. I thought I was over the “nearly vomiting” stage by this point but after going for a jog first and then running up and down the beach for two hours kicking punching and elbowing pads, I was absolutely beasted and started dry heaving a few times like I had done on days 1 and 2.
About 20 trainers stood in two lines about 50 metres apart and we each had to run back and forth to each trainer performing 10 of whichever move it was that round. It wasn’t really the pad work that killed me – it was running in the sand for two hours. And it wasn’t that nice, easy hard sand you get nearer the sea. It was the soft, squidgy dry sand that is hard even just to walk in. The best thing about it though was that the warm down was a 20 minute swim. That was absolute heaven after the training.
Despite the gruelling beach session, I scored my second double session that day, completing 4 hours training. After the brutal beach training I did feel I was pushing myself a bit too hard by going to the afternoon session but I knew it was rest day the next day so that motivated me. Also, I guess I just had to push that little bit harder to get my body used to doing the doubles!
Sunday – Sunday (today) is rest day, the only one of the week, and there is no training on Sunday’s. I can tell you I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, no like really, need it! I am doing nothing today – well nothing except rest, chill by the pool, watch Netflix, read, eat and finish this blog post. Moving as little as possible……
I acknowledge that I have been a bit dramatic about the training in the above posts but I am just being honest as it IS truly intense. This week has been very tough, I won’t deny that. I have done 13 hours training in one week and my body feels wrecked today. Muay Thai training is not easy. The last thing I would ever want to do, however, is put anyone off coming to one of these camps but the reason the training is so difficult for me is because I am NOT FIT. That is why I am here. And that is why I have suffered this week. So I can change from being NOT FIT to being FIT. That cannot happen without pain. What’s that phrase they say? Oh yes – no pain, no gain.
But it is a nice pain. I like this type of pain. A wise man or woman once said to me that the pain you feel after training is simply “weakness leaving your body”. I forgot who that wise man or woman was but I love that quote and I have never forgotten it.
Despite this pain, however, I am really enjoying it here and the gradual sense of progress I am making is immensely satisfying and rewarding. This is turning out to be an incredible experience so far and I already know I will be sad to leave. Despite the intense training I also feel a deep sense of calm here for some reason. Maybe it is just the camp atmosphere and routine. Everything is simple you just train, eat, rest, train, eat, sleep, repeat. Being off the booze too, eating healthy and exercising every day I know and can feel inside that I am getting fitter, stronger and healthier every day and that truly is a great feeling. One I have not experienced for a while.
Plus the beautiful jungle and beach surroundings might have something to do with it!
Anyway – if anyone thinking about coming to one of these camps ever asked me for one piece of advice and they wanted to get the most out of the training (and also reduce the risk of injury and extreme muscle soreness) then it would be to do quite a bit of fitness or Muay Thai training beforehand at home – a few evening classes a week etc or if you are already in a regime to step it up for a month or so.
This advice is of course obvious, however, I didn’t really have that option as I have been travelling the past 4 months so I have just had to dive bomb in at the deep end – indeed I nearly drowned this week but I made it through in the end and trained every day.
Let’s see what next week brings.
LIFE ON THE CAMP
In between the sessions, for the first week I didn’t really have to find much to do as lying around in my hammock, bed or on the sun beds by the pool was about all I could do, being that my body was adapting to the training and the muscle soreness.
During most of the days, I also had to really fight off sleep. I had fallen asleep for 3 hours on the first day and it screwed up that nights sleep – lay there awake pretty much all night. I was determined to not let that happen again but it was a hard daily battle and my eyes kept closing and I dozed a few times, the lure of sleep so tempting after the hard training.
In terms of nutrition, the good thing about Thailand is that as long as you stick to Thai food (steering clear of their fried options) you are onto a winner – a Thai diet is so good that you don’t really have to make much more effort then just sticking to that. I did have a protein shake after each workout but basically I just made sure I stuck to Thai food (with the odd steak thrown in). Thai food always has some form of chicken, fish or pork in it anyway and all the vegetables and carbs you need too.
On the Tuesday, I met a couple of sound German guys who joined me for dinner at the Happy Time restaurant and I started eating with them quite a few nights so it was nice to have someone to share stories about the training. Later in the week I joined them one night with some German girls from the camp too. There was a lot of nice people in the camp. One interesting thing I noticed is that everyone had their own favourite trainers and they all seemed to be different. So far, I really liked two trainers called Lek and Daam.
I didn’t socialise a great deal (such as with some of the backpackers who were training and then going out drinking after the classes) as I know what I am like and would probably lose my focus on the training and get tempted to drink alcohol. I was determined to stay of the booze. It was a personal goal I had set to stay off it here so if I drank that would feel like a failure to me. I am thinking of this a detox and health kick as well as fitness / Muay Thai training. I was content with just chatting to people who were around during and after training, at meals and also with the locals and trainers too around the camp and near the pool.
The camp had a masseuse on site and she gave me a Thai massage on the Friday. She pulled, pushed and twisted my body and also used some other unusual techniques such as tapping a small hammer on my spine and heat wraps around my arms and legs while she massaged my back. All in all it really helped with the muscle soreness. She was really nice too and gave me a cup of tea after the massage which she claimed had herbs in which soothed muscle soreness. I felt this odd sense of serenity or even euphoria after the Thai massage (unless it was something she put in the tea!) so I booked another one in for the following Wednesday. Oddly enough, despite coming to Thailand a few times that was my first ever Thai massage. Years ago, someone told me they had one and their back had been in pain for weeks afterwards so I had always been scared of them. Mine was great though and did the job.
I did make a few excursions on the scooter I had rented when I had the energy and hit the beach quite a few times too.
Next post: My second week in a Muay Thai Training camp.