Should I train at a commercial or a traditional gym in Thailand?

What style of the gym is best for me to train in Thailand?

When booking a training trip to Thailand it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to train, as there are many gyms that vary greatly in what they offer which can leave you wondering, “which gym is best for me?”.

With Muay Thai training being a very popular tool for fitness and weight loss, many gyms are opening to cater to this crowd and some traditional gyms are even changing from being a fighter-based gym to a westerner (also known as “Farlung”) based gym, to try and attract the money that they are happy to spend on holiday.

Obviously many things have to be taken into consideration:

  • Budget
  • Length of stay
  • What you want to achieve
  • how important hygiene is to you

…along with many other factors which will affect your experience.

At the end of the day, the most important factor is you actually showing up to training.

If you need a nice gym with freshly mopped floors and pad holders that can speak English in order for you to show up, go with that. Or if you thrive off the more raw experience of going to the authentic Thai style gyms that don’t have the treadmills, air-conditioned weights area and all the extra bells-and-whistles, go there.

You are more likely to get TAUGHT at the western-style gyms. They will show you technique and they will break things down a little more… BUT for the most part, they won’t overly care about you, especially if you are a beginner. They have so many people coming and going for 1 or 2 weeks at a time, they won’t usually invest all of their time and energy into every person that comes through the door. However, if you are there for an extended period of time, or are already an established fighter they will often show more interest.

The smaller, lesser-known gyms with fewer westerners have a different training style. You learn by getting beaten up, not shown techniques. This builds you into a “fighter” through being tested constantly and can be even more important than learning the technique. But it is tough and gruelling at times. They also really want you to win if you fight for them, as it’s about representing the gym rather than just giving someone on holiday experience of fighting so they can post on social media.

Also, what are you planning on doing around your training? Do you want to go to the beach or shopping in your downtime? If you are planning on also being a tourist as well as training, you may want to consider going to coastal places like Phuket, or Koh Samui where they have lots of tourist activities as well. The Bangkok gyms are more known for being authentic with some very tough training.  A good rule of thumb to follow is if there is a high density of foreigners in a certain area, it is quite likely that most of the gyms there will be less authentic Thai style and be more aimed at catering to westerners.

A Muay Thai gym that caters toward westerners is not a bad thing! This comes with the added benefit of having clear communication, and also means they likely offer other training such as Brazilian Jiujitsu, MMA, Yoga, and Cross-fit classes all under the one roof, but you also will be paying extra for this. The Muay Thai training at these gyms is still very tough and the western gyms still produce many champions, it’s just a different experience compared to the authentic style gyms.

At the end of the day, showing up is the most important thing, so whichever one keeps you coming back is the right choice for you! Check out this article on the importance of repetition to help understand exactly why it’s so important that you keep showing up.