The popularity of Thai boxing camps is rising each year, with many travellers seeking a physical challenge to up their fitness game and increase their self-defence abilities. ITTN’s travel correspondent, Lainey Quinn, aka Little Miss Sunray, is at Kombat Group, a Thai boxing, Muay Thai, Krav Maga and MMA camp situated in Pattaya’s remote countryside in Thailand. Two weeks into the experience, Lainey is already adapting to the six days per week training programme, in 32 degrees heat. Find out what she’s up to, and what exactly it’s like to train at one of these camps.
The Reality of a Thai Fitness Camp
My face was burning, clothes soaked in sweat, and my muscles were burning in pain. “Jab, straight, hook!”, shouted the trainer, as I desperately tried to keep my arms moving and punching the pads on his hands. “MORE POWER!”, he screamed, and from somewhere deep inside me I found one last bit of strength to finish off the punching round.
I could hardly see straight from the sweat dripping into my eyeballs and my entire body felt like it was paralysed and having a seizure at the same time. To say I was praying for the bell to sound to signify a break would be an understatement. When it did, I immediately bent over gasping for air, shaking uncontrollably and fighting the feeling of nausea. But this is exactly what I signed up for and there is no time for weakness in a Thai fitness camp. After a few sips of water and 30 seconds later, the bell rang. Time for another round!
What Brought Me Here
Training at a fight camp in Thailand has always been on my bucket list. I love the feeling of physically challenging myself and there’s nowhere better to do that than in a humid gym in Thailand, the home of Muay Thai. When I lived in Ireland, I dabbled in a few boxing classes but always found it hard to motivate myself to keep going. I knew that at a camp, you had no choice but to go to the classes. That’s what I love about Kombat Group – the (outdoor) gym is less than five metres walk from my room…and the camp is situated in the rural countryside away from all distractions, which makes it easy to focus purely on training and staying motivated.
The Benefits of a Thai Fitness Camp
It has been two weeks so far, and I already feel the strongest I have felt in years. My goal is to stay here for two to three months, possibly longer. I intend on becoming skilled at Western boxing, Muay Thai and self-defence martial arts (Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). There are also classes in MMA and functional training, which consist of body weight training, core workouts and high-intensity interval training.
Once my fitness increases through boxing classes, I’ll start doing minimum eight hours per week of Muay Thai. Muay Thai is termed ‘the science of eight limbs’ because it makes use of punches, kicks, knees and elbows strikes, as opposed to two limbs in boxing and four limbs in other martial arts. The result is a well-proportioned physique development with stronger and more defined muscles. Classes in Muay Thai training are more demanding on the body simply because more body parts and muscles are at work. And it’s great for weight loss, speeding up your body’s metabolism, and strengthening your core!
On a mental level, Muay Thai strengthens your mind, concentration and co-ordination. You learn how to instantly react to your opponent’s attacks and it’s another effective form of self-defence – which is useful for a solo female traveller like myself. Also, during the Muay Thai and boxing training you get to practise full-contact fighting on a regular basis, which is pretty cool!
But it’s not just the training that’s tough, it’s also the heat and humidity. Twice a day for six days per week, there’s a 40-minute functional class followed by a two-hour boxing, self-defence or Muay Thai class. So, imagine three straight hours of intense workouts in 32 degrees heat in an outdoor gym with no air conditioning or the slightest breeze. It’s just another thing to get used to, but I can already feel my body adapting to the heat.
It might all sound tough, but it’s really not. You don’t need to have a high level of fitness to experience a Thai camp, because you get all the right motivation and training once you are there. All you need to succeed is determination and the willingness to learn and train hard.
Why Choose Kombat Group?
Many travellers say that one of the hardest aspects of travel is staying healthy and fit, and I can attest to that. But if you dedicate a portion of your travel time to Thailand, partly to explore the country, but also to settle at a fitness camp for a while to increase your level of health, nutrition and strength, it’s totally worth it.
Some great things about Kombat Group are that the camp grounds are kept clean, the gym equipment is new and sterilised each day, and there are plenty of trainers for each activity. For example, there might be only 15 people taking a boxing class, but there are at least five trainers, meaning everyone gets a lot of one-on-one time and individual assistance. The trainers are mostly all champions in their field, very friendly and funny yet tough, and are always a beacon of motivation. Furthermore, Kombat Group is all-inclusive, so all meals, training and accommodation is on-site and included in the package price.
Editor’s Note: Lainey is not affiliated with or advertising for Kombat Group Thailand. She is simply enjoying the experience and highly recommends the camp for everyone of all ages, nationalities, shapes and sizes.
Off the Beaten Track in Bangkok
Before heading to her training camp near Pattaya, Lainey checked out some unusual visitor attractions in Bangkok.
Ancient City (296/1 Moo 7 Sukhumvit Road, Bang Pu Mai, Amphoe Mueang Samut Prakan, Chang Wat Samut Prakan 10280)
One of the main reasons people visit Thailand is to witness the magnificent temples for which the country is famous, but it’s impossible to see them all unless you have months of travel time and a relatively large budget. So head to Ancient City in Bangkok, an outdoor museum in Samut Prakan covering 96 hectares with scaled models or replicas of ancient city ruins and historical monuments from various parts of Thailand. You can even rent a golf buggy or avail of the free bikes to make your way around the sights.
Siriraj Medical Museum (10700, Bangkok, Thanon Wang Lang)
If you are intrigued by the odd and bizarre, then the ‘Bangkok Museum of Death’ might be just up your street. Despite such a morbid nickname, the museum serves as a valuable source for doctors and medical students who practice in the on-site hospital. This intriguing museum collection showcases a wide variety of medical oddities, including preserved skeletons with deformities, skulls of murder victims, and displays of organs infected by parasites.
Sathorn Ghost Tower (266/14-15, Soi Siam Square 3, Rama 1 Road, Khet Pathumwan, Bangkok, 10330)
Originally designed to house the city’s most luxurious apartments, the construction for the ‘Sathorn Unique Condominium’ was put on hold after the architect was arrested for attempted murder. The abandoned apartment block now stands 185 metres high and is one of the most unique off the beaten track sights in Bangkok for tourists. If you pay 500 baht to the security man sitting outside, you can go inside, walk up to the 49th floor and get the most amazing 360 views of Bangkok. It’s especially worth doing at night-time!
Teens of Thailand Bar (76 Soi Nana, Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100)
Unlike what the name suggests, this is a gin bar and is hidden away down a dark street behind a tiny, medieval door. But you won’t get your regular Gordons gin and tonic here. Each drink is an unusual concoction of ingredients you would never think of putting together, such as mango, rice wine and gin – but I can guarantee, every sip will be even better than the one before. Each of the drinks, served in king-sized glass goblets, pack in nearly two shots per drink and the creations are smooth and balanced, not to mention perfect antidotes for the sweltering Bangkok nights.
Na-Oh Restaurant (460/8 Sirindhorn Rd, Khwaeng Bang Phlat, Khet Bang Phlat, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10700)
Once named as one of the ‘World’s Greatest Places’ by Time magazine, Chang Chui market now features a new restaurant where you can dine within a disused airplane for a ‘futuristic food journey’. Guests can walk inside the refurbished Lockheed L-1011 Trista aircraft/restaurant, and be treated to a five- or eight-course set menu inspired by a doomsday “where all the living creatures [have been] evacuated on to Na-Oh” (the restaurant is named after Noah’s Ark!).