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Tiger Muay Thai

Fighters spar at Tiger Muay Thai

Thailand was always a dream destination, albeit one that seemed perhaps too distant a location to be a dream that could easily come true. After all, there are amazing beaches far closer to home that I have yet to enjoy. But when my boyfriend expressed his desire to train traditional martial arts at a gym located near the beautiful beaches of my ideal vacation getaway, we seized upon the unique opportunity to live out our dream holiday escape.

After about a 26-hour journey and three connecting flights, we made it to Bangkok, Thailand. After spending a few days exploring Thailand’s capital city, we took an hour flight to Phuket, a southern province of Thailand with beautiful beaches along the Andaman Sea. A major reason for our trip awaited there: Traditional Muay Thai lessons at the world-famous Tiger Muay Thai gym.

Tiger Muay Thai gym, in the Chalong area of Phuket, is a Mixed Martial Arts and fitness gym. With daily classes for everyone, ranging from beginners to professional fighters, Tiger Muay Thai creates an encouraging training environment for all people of every fitness level. For those enthusiasts wanting a more authentic fighting experience, long-term lodging and training options are available both on and near site.

We chose to stay in a hotel a few minutes’ walk from the gym to better accommodate his training schedule. There were multiple training package options, ranging from all-inclusive training packages for one week, one month, and even three-month pricing options. Each fitness discipline, from Muay Thai and MMA, to Grappling, CrossFit, and even Western style Boxing, had several options to choose from.

With a limited amount of time, we chose the private one-on-one Muay Thai lesson option. These sessions lasted an hour, and were very similar in price to the cost of a single group lesson. Private training sessions would be especially ideal for those visitors who perhaps feel a little uncertain or uncomfortable exercising in new environments, or for those wishing to see substantial progress in a shorter amount of time.

With absolutely zero martial arts experience, I was a little apprehensive to take classes at a gym where professional fighters train. There were a lot of fears. Would there be classes for someone like me? Would I be able to physically keep up? Would I even like it? But training at Tiger Muay Thai was important to my boyfriend, so it was important to me to try.

The gym is located in a part of Phuket dedicated almost entirely to fitness and healthy living. The street is lined with gyms, healthy restaurants, fitness clothing stores, and the hotels where these fitness travelers stay. We met many people from all over the world who had taken a week, two, and even months off of work to stay and train here, in what many people declared was the greatest fighting gym of the world.

Entering the class was intimidating. All classes were held in a large, open-air gym spanning the length of multiple fighting rings. The beginner class was held in the far back corner of the gym, past professional athletes training one-on-one with their coaches, the sound of fists and kicks on punching bags echoing loudly.

To enter the ring, we had to first remove our shoes and wash our feet, as is the custom. We began with a warm-up run and calisthenics. The warm-up alone was difficult in the ninety-degree Thailand heat and humidity. Luckily for us, we were conditioned. But there were tourists there to get into shape, and their fitness levels were taken into consideration as the coaches encouraged us in Thai and some English.

Several coaches worked with our beginner class. They mostly lead by example, showing us our moves and watching as we followed. Despite the occasional language barriers, I learned a lot. I went from less than no martial arts experience, to being able to throw combinations as they were called out.

The class lasted an hour, but felt much longer. By the end, we were dripping with sweat and my muscles were becoming sore. Prior to working out at Tiger Muay Thai, I considered myself to be in pretty good shape. Despite my conditioning, this was one of the best workouts of my life. I could easily see the draw of a fitness vacation; taking several weeks off to relax through a focus on health and fitness.

Training at an authentic, prestigious martial arts gym added unique experiences and excitement to an otherwise very traditional holiday. Like most of our adventures, the most memorable moments were the ones where we pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones, and sought to achieve new physical boundaries. Was it worth it? Absolutely. If I could change anything? I would stay longer, train more, and really bask in the enjoyment that is a traditional Muay Thai experience.

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