For Expats Over 40
This article is directed toward my fellow expats here in Thailand, especially those of you over forty. It’s geared for the beer drinkers hanging out in the bars all day just waiting to die. If you’re stuck in that rut like I was, start working out for one hour a day at a Muay Thai gym. You’ll feel better almost immediately. I’m not recommending for anyone to stop drinking beer. Let’s not get crazy. I’ll always be a beer drinker myself. But, I now drink beer at home to help ease the pain of a workout instead of wasting away in a bar all night.
For you young bucks and professional fighters out there who are dead serious about Muay Thai: I know you’ll rip this article and my workout plan as being weak. Hey, this post ain’t for you. Pay attention. It’s not your day.
Getting Into Muay Thai
I’ve been thinking about getting into Muay Thai since I first moved to Thailand but not because I want to take home a belt. I don’t wish to fight anyone. That’s a young man’s game. Plus, one very important rule when living as an expat is to avoid injury. Don’t get your nose smashed in and your teeth knocked out. That costs money which comes out of your beer budget.
I kept dreaming about a daily workout that was cheap, fun, physically exhausting, and would keep me coming back for more. Muay Thai seemed to fit that concept. I just never could find the right setup.
Traditional Weight-Lifting Gyms Suck – Don’t Waste Your Time
Let me back up a minute. First of all, I hate regular gyms. A typical weight-lifting gym is usually chock full of weird egomaniacs staring at themselves in the mirror like zombies. They spend most of their time flexing muscles that were generated with the assistance of pharmaceuticals. You know the types I’m talking about—the guys who love steroids and slurp those protein shakes that smell like water buffalo shit.
The atmosphere is tense in these gyms. Everyone is constantly posturing like they’re at a dick-measuring contest where the prize is a million dollars. The focus seems to be on what everyone else thinks and not on an individual’s workout. It’s grown men acting like children if you ask me. Even the women who go to regular gyms are fucked up. They walk around in tight, skimpy Spandex clothes just begging for some attention. These chicks never actually work out from what I’ve observed. They just hang out and make excuses to bend over to try and get noticed. They’re in the gym because it’s the only place they can feel important for a couple of hours a day. Back in the U.S., guys join gyms to meet girls. I wouldn’t date any of those crazy bitches who hang out at health clubs.
The whole shattered, look-at-me, I’m-on-the-verge-of-suicide-maybe, I’ve-got-fucked-up-self-esteem-so-I-think-I’ll-join-a-gym setup is not for this guy and never has been. Screw that.
Plus, a typical weight-lifting gym smells like the inside of a baboon’s ass. And, there’s just something about showering with other men that doesn’t sound appealing to me. It seems like the communal shower thing is a doctrinal part of the weight-lifting gym culture for some reason.
If you join a regular gym as an expat, I’ll bet five dollars you don’t last a week before you get bored and quit. Running on a treadmill for twenty minutes while staring at the wall is not my idea of excitement.
Really? This is Thailand. The weather is beautiful. Why in the hell would you go to a gym and run on a treadmill indoors?
My advice is that if you’re over forty years old, stay the hell out of the weight-lifting gym. You need cardio and endurance training so you stay healthy. That’s it. There’s no benefit to straining yourself while trying to bench press two hundred pounds. That’s a waste of time. The only thing you’ll have to show for it is a new hemorrhoid or a hernia.
Enough of the ranting. You get the point.
The Search for a Muay Thai Gym
I set out to find a small Muay Thai gym where I could work out in peace and not feel like I had to join a damn social club. I just want to exercise for an hour or so a day at my own pace with little interference.
A buddy of mine told me about Ormeekhun Muay Thai Gym on the east side of Pattaya. He was kind enough to take me there since it’s a bit off the beaten path. Upon arrival, it was in appearance, exactly what I was looking for. There was a nice breeze blowing through as well.
The gym is open air and has only one ring. It’s on the side of a hill so you have a partial view of the city. The place is clean but not overly tidy. A couple of dogs and the banana tree add some flavor to the atmosphere.
I spoke to the owner for a while in Thai and knew I’d found a home. He told me to come anytime I wanted from Monday to Saturday. The time and duration was entirely up to me. He let me know that the gym is closed on Sundays and the cost is 4,000 baht per month. That’s cheap compared to most of the Muay Thai gyms around Pattaya, especially at farang (foreigner) prices. I told him I would start in a few days.
My First Day – 72.4 Kilos
I had to stop by the thrift store and pick up a pair of shorts on the way to the gym. I gave away my last pair when I was in the Philippines last month. I had recently bought a tank top from a market in Vientiane, Laos, so I figured I was good to go on workout clothes. When I got to the gym, my instructor laughed at the new shorts and handed me a proper pair for Muay Thai. They’re bright yellow and look great. He snapped a photo of me before we got started.
Before I go into my workout routine, let me say something about the pain after day 1. I was sore for about three days. My body was hurting so damn bad that I could barely sleep. Every time I moved, the pain would wake me up. I had to drink a few extra beers just to get some rest. It has taken the whole month for my body to get used to the after effects of a workout.
One-Hour Workout Plan – The Routine
It’s not complicated. Here it is in bullet form:
- 15 Minutes – Run
- 10 Minutes – Jump on Tires
- 5 Minutes – Jump Rope
- 10 Minutes – Three Rounds in the Ring with Instructor
- 10 Minutes – Heavy Bag
- 5 Minutes – Situps & Pullups
- 5 Minutes – Butterfly Weight Bench
Here it is in pictures:
After One Month – 70.5 Kilos – Lost 1.9 Kilos / 4.19 Pounds
I feel much better. I look forward to my workout and grind it as hard as I can. I’ve lost 1.9 kilos which is about 4.19 pounds. I haven’t cut back on the beer at all. I still drink every night. I think the reason I haven’t lost more weight is because I’m actually putting on muscle.
When I first started running the hill, it kicked my ass. Now, I can tackle the hill like I’m on a stroll through the park. I began the month doing two pull-ups. I’m up to five. Give me another month and I’ll be able to do ten.
My routine is that I work out Monday thru Thursday. I take Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off to recuperate and enjoy the weekend. My Monday workout is the most enjoyable because I feel like Superman. On Mondays, I could probably kick Conor McGregor’s ass. From Tuesday to Thursday my energy level isn’t 100% because I’m recovering from Monday. I might be able to take on a drunk Korean tourist during that time frame but I’m not positive. Don’t bet on me after Monday.
The point is that the workout is a cycle with definite, measurable gains.
My Advice for Expats Here in Thailand?
Find yourself a small, local Muay Thai gym. It’s ok if you’re the only farang there. It’s actually better that way. If there are a lot of foreigners and tourists at the gym, they will inevitably want to chat and converse.
“Hey man, where you from? I’m from…”
That equates to an unnecessary distraction. Go to Muay Thai for a workout. You’re not there to chat. You can do all the socializing you want at the damn bar or on Facebook. At the gym, get serious about your health.
Explain to the instructors that you’re there for a workout and not a professional training session. Make sure they know you’re not looking to book that first fight in three months. That takes the pressure and the seriousness out of how they treat you. While it’s nice to learn some technique, your main objective is fitness, weight loss, and endurance training. Take your Thai wife (or a bar girl) with you on the first day so she can translate this paragraph for the instructor.
The only thing you need for the gym is a pair of Muay Thai shorts and boxing gloves. If you’re going to run like I do, bring the proper running shoes as well. My instructor gave me some old shorts and I bought new gloves for 550 baht. Mine are the FBT Pro which are made in Thailand. They work just fine.
You can probably use the gym’s gloves but I recommend you get your own. You will sweat like crazy in them. Personally, I don’t want to stick my hand in someone else’s sweaty gloves. Who knows where their hands have been? I let my gloves air dry outside over the weekend to keep them from smelling too ripe.
If you start going to Muay Thai, drop me a comment on the YouTube video and let me know how it’s going for you.