The first thing you’ll notice coming down Jaofa 50 in Chalong, the road where Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket is located, are the many hardbodies walking, or more often running around. Never miss an opportunity to do something for your fitness. That’s pretty much the motto when you decided to check in at Tiger Muay Thai. So did I for 12 days from Dec 2011 to January 2012 and it was indeed one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Finishing my last training yesterday, I feel even safe to say that it is the perfect sports vacation.
And there are plenty of factors that have to come together for this statement: Let’s start with Tiger Muay Thai itself. The camp is amazingly well organized. There are 2.5 hours, twice a day structured courses every day for every level, from bloody beginners to really advanced pros. But there is much more than Muay Thai to it. There are daily Yoga classes at 6.30 am, “Body Fit”-courses at 9 am, weight training as well as several other martial arts experiences. Be prepared that every class will put at least equal emphasis on building up stamina as it teaches technique. Especially the 2.5 hours felt for my fitness pretty shitty. But every day a little less shitty :-)
Pricewise, a full package for a week costs 3,000 Baht (~ EUR 75), for a whole month 10,000 Baht (~EUR 250). That’s indeed for the „all you can eat“ package including usage of weight room, spinning bikes, boxing bags at your own discretion. What is more, you get to train with former Muay Thai Champions, 1:1 with personal attention to grow your skill level. 36 of them are working in the camp. Think of being able to train boxing with Mike Tyson. That’s what you get for Muay Thai for an hourly rate of 600 Baht (~ EUR 15)!
Interestingly, the entire Jaofa 50 road seems to have evolved in a comprehensive „eco-system“ at whose centre sits Tiger Muay Thai. The camp itself again is very service-oriented and can arrange for accommodation, a scooter or excursions at discounted prices. But interestingly, there are plenty of independent businesses that have sprung up in a 200 m walking vicinity. You’ll find small cosy family restaurants that offer a meal for around 100 Baht (EUR 2.50) – even with emphasis on healthy, light nutrition -, massage spas that will squeeze the pain out of your sore muscles and really lovely guesthouses. Myself, for instance, was staying in Floraville, a beautifully set garden with a fish-pond for 7,000 Baht (EUR 175) per week – in peak season.
The entire mood at Tiger Muay Thai is just right. Focused, yet not rigid. It’s functional with attention to hygiene. People I have met there we all easy to talk to, relaxed, nobody smoked or drank, but was rather eager to order the next protein shake. It’s neither a boot camp where you get screamed at nor one of these metrosexual fitness studios in western cities with their omni-present vanity. Last not least, nobody asks questions if you don’t show up. Hey, ultimately, you are on an island of one of the word’s last living paradises, Thailand. There is plenty to do if you feel you want an escape from your training routine. From a lazy day on one of the beaches, to a boat trip to another island, to a mountain walk to e.g. The Big Buddha, cruising with the motorbike, going for a dive or check at one of the plenty adventures that Phuket has to offer.
Two points, though, for improvement: First, food at the camp’s own “Tiger Grill”. It’s somehow efficient, but also pretty awful. Had by a huge margin the worst “steak” in my life and the other cooked stuff was also nothing to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect 5 star cuisine, but Tiger Grill aims to “provide meal items that are designed to give our guest the choices they need to maintain a healthy and optimal diet while training at Tiger Muay Thai“, says the website. Reality is by no means living up to the promise. On a constructive note, alternatives are in close reach: any of the small family-restaurants on the road, as mentioned above, will be much tastier and healthier and not necessarily more expensive. My favourite was Chillana where Annamay Phurisa will cook phenomenal home-made Thai dishes.
Second point affects a consistent level of teaching skills with the trainers in 1:1 sessions. No doubt that all of them know Muay Thai very well. My last trainer, Komrit (picture above), was in my view the best from a didactic standpoint. He would immediately see where I stand and have me do techniques for my level. If he saw that I was screwing up, he would make me repeat the same set 4, 5, 6 times until it looked good. Then he would do other stuff to return to the same technique to check if it had sunk in. Perfect. I believe with a systematic “train the trainer”-initiative, Tiger Muay Thai could bring this piece of the experience to a consistently higher level.
Yet, these are really minor things compared to the entire experience, which was absolutely stellar. On a side not, being co-founder and MD of Brain Pirates, a social media consultancy, Tiger Muay Thai is doing an amazing job in using all possible tools and platforms from their own website, YouTube or Facebook and feeding it with relevant, exciting content. I recommend to “Like” their Facebook-page and I am sure by their daily stream you’ll get the appetite to give it a try.
One thing I lost at Tiger Muay Thai which, however, I don’t miss at all: fat. I wouldn’t yet be able to run with the hardbodies on Jaofa Road, but aiming to come back for more is a good reason to work (out) towards it.