I wrote this post on February 25th, however for some reason I never got around to publishing it. I think at the time I just wanted to wait until I had some photos to use in it but then things got busy and I just moved on without actually getting it done. It is supposed to be a bit of an informative piece for anyone thinking of going on a fitness adventure so hopefully someone read it and benefits from it. So here you go! Enjoy
Soi Ta-iad is the name of the road that Tiger Muay Thai is located on and I have to say I really do love this street. This one street seems to be sort of the fitness and training hub of Phuket and due to that it has some quite unique attributes that you don’t seem to find in a lot of other places.
If things are easy then people do them and this street makes being healthy easy!
The whole street has sprung up around the existence of the Tiger Muay Thai training camp and now has a life of its own. Apparently a few years ago there was nothing really here apart from TMT, however its reputation grew so much that people from all over the world came to train here. Other gyms sprung up along the street to try and get in on the action and the fitness street was born. Tiger Muay Thai, Dragon Muay Thai and Phuket Top Team are all located on this road along with other gyms like Unit 27 Crossfit and Titan Fitness that all specialise in their own unique type of exercise. Due to this most of the people you see coming and going every day are here for classes and to work out in some way shape or form. I have never seen anywhere else with so many Gyms in such a small place. Rather than compete with each other many of these places specialise in a specific thing and have their own unique selling points to different people meaning that there is something for everyone here.
Whether you want to learn to fight, build up your fitness, flip tyres about or lift weights in some stupid heat then this is the place for you!
People need places to crash out when they are training hard and so the street is also packed with hotels. From larger apartments to very basic dorm style rooms there is something for everyone and always somewhere to stay that is within budget. It is so easy to find accommodation here that I know of a few people that only booked the first week before they left home and then have just gone looking and found better deals speaking to hotels and moved to different places as and when they need to. No matter where you stay though or how lavish or pauper-ish your accommodation is, everyone hits the mats are trains the same way. When we are training we are equals.
There are only a couple of pure bars on the street that only serve drink and are open late as there is not much demand for them. Most of the people here are into healthy lifestyles or are here for a specific weight loss / fitness goal and so are not bothered about getting drunk every night. Obviously everyone wants to let their hair down every now and again and to a quiet beer with a game of pool is nice but there isn’t a roaring trade. If you want to party then you can always get a taxi to Patong where drink and debauchery is on tap!
Nearly every hotel has a restaurant attached to it with plenty more dotted in between. Even though all of these restaurants sell alcohol it is very rare that I see someone drinking and even when they are it is just the single beer to wind down on a night. The brilliant think about the restaurants here is that their menu’s have been designed to suit the clientèle. Nearly all of the menus contain English / European Dishes, Thai Dishes and then Health Dishes that are often sometimes known as fighter meals. This section of fighter meals is usually where most people are ordering from and contains things such as Grilled chicken with steamed veg or other dishes cooked without any oils etc. It might sound a little boring and bland but it is great as it takes some of the hassle out of the decision making process. Instead of having to look through the menu to find the one lonely healthy meal you can flick to the section and find what you want straight away which often stops people straying from the healthy path. When you also look around and see that you are only one debating having a burger and chips it makes it a little easier to make the right choice and eat healthily. It seems like completely the reverse of the peer pressure at home to eat junk. Here someone shook their head at me for ordering pasta for dinner due to all the carbs! That would never happen at home. BTW I enjoyed the pasta and didn’t care!
Shake / Smoothie Huts
Something that I have only seemed to see a lot of on this street is little huts that only sell smoothies, fresh fruit or Protien shakes. They are dotted all the way up and down the street which means on your way back to your hotel after training you can grab a shake straight away made with all fresh ingredients and not have to bother messing about making it yourself. Just another way that the street helps you stick to your goals.
All the way up and down the street massage parlours offering many different services including leg and foot massages and different sports massages. None of them are quite the seedy “massage parlour” you imagine with most of the goings on happening right in the shop window so people can see it is an innocent and genuine business. After training hard lots of people I have talked to swear by the massages as well as the Ice baths that some of the places offer. May have to look into that a bit more before I leave.
Fighting Kit Stores
If you forgot to bring some equipment before you left home then don’t worry about it as practically anything you need can be purchased from the multiple fight stores all down the road. The prices in them are not great considering that you can get some things back home quite cheap, however they tend to only stock the good brands so you do get quality for your money. All in all the price is probably the same as you can get it for at home but this way you don’t have to worry about transporting it all here and can always pick up anything that you have forgotten quite easily, be it MMA shorts, shin pads, gloves or rash guards. Most of the Gyms also have their own clothing lines with Tiger Muay Thai fight store also having a full range of all the workout clothes, gloves and pads you would need. The prices here are much cheaper than they are listed on their website, but still more expensive than you can get elsewhere (A TMT training vest top is about £10 when you could get one from a market store for about £2). It is “more” expensive but it is still very reasonable compared to prices back home, especially since you will also end up keeping it as a souvenir rather than just something to use as a one off for a few weeks.
The best thing by far about the fight stores here is that they just leave you alone. Everywhere else that I have been on holiday (and everywhere outside of this street) try and give you the hard sell whenever you go in and start looking at something. Here people really don’t care and are quite laid back as they know that if you want something from them then you will come and buy it. It is quite refreshing to be in a shop and no have someone trying to sell you anything.
Last but not least it is the people that make this street such a friendly and welcoming place. All of the trainers, store owners and restaurateurs are very friendly and kind and so far I have not had a single bad interaction with anyone.
As well as all of the locals there are also all of the people that are here to train and exercise. Everyone is here for roughly the same goal and so everyone is nice and pushes each other on, no matter what the nationality, creed, colour or language. I have made friends with some Russian guys who speak no English at all. We communicate via hand signals and Google translate but are still there to push each other to keep going during an exercise when we start to get tired. Whenever you are running along and getting a bit tired suddenly a huge Russian will tap you on the back and start pushing you forwards both figuratively and literally!
So far I have met people from: South Africa, Singapore, Austria, Germany, Wales, Scotland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Russia, Sweden, Iceland and Norway. There are probably even more places that I have missed out, but the point is that no matter where people are from everyone has the same goal and passion that drives us all together as one big team. Every day you pass people on the street and say Hi and can get chatting because you know you at least share an interest and passion for trying to improve yourself and make yourself just a little better than you were yesterday.
Soi Ta-iad is a place where where I think anyone would benefit from spending a few weeks. If you are not motivated to train or workout then this place would change you. Exercise here is infection and certainly something I needed in my life. I can’t wait until I get a chance to return!