I recently decided to spend over a month getting in shape after a prolonged period of generally neglecting myself. I was travelling long-term and hitting up a lot of the stops on the Southeast Asia backpacking trail, which meant rich food, plenty of beer and lots of time sitting on buses.
All this culminated in a version of me that couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting a little breathless, and someone who spent her days feeling terrible after a night on the booze the night before.
So I decided something had to change. It’s my 30th birthday in just a couple of months and I’m determined not to enter my thirties abusing myself like I did in my twenties. It’s time to get in shape.
On a whim, I booked a 31 day stay at Titan Fitness, a boot camp in Phuket, Thailand, and within weeks I was here; kit on and ready to train. A week into the course, I liked it so much I decided to extend for an extra week, giving me 38 full days of training in total.
If you’re reading this thinking ‘this sounds like my life’ – either you’re travelling long term and have succumbed to ‘backpacker belly’ or you’re simply living an unhealthy life of all work and no play, then I’m here to tell you why getting yourself to Thailand will be the best decision you ever make.
Plus I’ll tell you exactly what you can expect when signing up for a month (or any amount of time you like). First things first:
What is Titan Fitness?
It’s a fitness camp set up for the sole purpose of getting people into the best shape possible, with the time they have available.
Where is it?
It’s situated in Chalong, on the southern tip of Phuket island in Thailand. Around 15 minutes from Rassada Pier (the main entrance point to the west of Phuket by ferry) and around 1 hour from Phuket International Airport (HKT).
What facilities are there?
Titan Fitness has an air conditioned gym, yoga studio, outdoor assault course, covered outside arena for classes and most visitors who buy a package have access to the world-famous Chok Chai Muay Thai centre next door. Chok Chai himself even teaches classes here, which is pretty cool.
There’s also a small protein bar at Titan, where you can get a quick smoothie or shake to keep yourself going through the day.
Who else goes there?
A real mix of people. I met people from Australia, the UK, continental Europe, Russia, China, Singapore and South America. Some were travelling solo, some as couples, siblings, and even a stag (bachelor) party!
Every person has their own level of fitness and their own reasons for being there. But because everyone has ultimately the same goal of self improvement, everybody is very supportive and it’s extremely easy to make friends.
Do you have to be fit?
Not at all! When I first arrived I could hardly run a lap of the grounds, but nearly a month later and I’m running laps with ease, lifting weights like a pro and I can almost do a full press up, which I’ve never been able to do before. Almost.
The main thing you have to have is a positive attitude. Work hard in the classes and make the most of the facilities and the fitness will come.
What does a typical day look like?
The gym is open early in the morning until late at night so you can go and work out there whenever you like. People who book a package (not just gym access or classes alone) will get access to twice-weekly Muay Thai classes which can fit around the Titan schedule.
There are two morning classes (9a.m. and 10a.m.), each with a different focus. You’re welcome to do these two classes back to back but it’s not really recommended without having a snack or a protein shake in between. They are fairly strenuous classes, although you take them at your own pace.
An open mat session after the morning classes gives you the chance to practice anything you like by yourself for a couple of hours (11a.m. – 1p.m.), then grab yourself some lunch at any of the restaurants in Chalong which all serve food geared towards people training. More on that below.
In the afternoon you can take a pretty hardcore class at 5p.m. and then relax with yoga at either 6.30p.m. or 7.30p.m. Then eat your weight in chicken.
This is the plan for weekdays, but on Saturdays you’ll head to a nearby beach to train in absolute paradise, and even get to wade into the cool sea after you finish! Sundays are a rest day.
What exactly do you do in the classes?
Every class is different but they are generally a mix of cardio and weight training exercises. Sometimes a class might focus on one particular area, for example to arms, legs or core, and if you can’t do a particular exercise then there are easier versions you can do instead.
The trainers are happy to take suggestions from the crowd if you have specific parts of the body you want to work on, or specific goals you want to achieve.
Expect anything from walking lunges and push ups to flipping tyres and sprinting. It’s all done in a fun, structured way so you won’t get bored or feel like the time is dragging. In fact, the time speeds past and pretty soon you’ve completed a month!
What results will I see?
This totally depends on you. How hard you work as well as your metabolism and ability to lose fat will play a huge part in your results. I came with high expectations of weight loss, however I’ve found that I’ve replaced the fat with muscle and toned up rather than shedding tons of weight.
Some people lose up to 10kg or more in a month though, so it’s really a personal thing. What I will guarantee though is that if you throw yourself into the experience and eat sensibly, it will change your body shape and fitness levels hugely.
What are the trainers like?
Sometimes in these kinds of training camps you’ll find fitness instructors with a bit of an ego, but not here. Without exception, the training team here are friendly, down-to-earth, professional and they really know their stuff.
They also make a real effort to make the classes fun and inclusive for everyone, and give tons of encouragement to keep you working hard.
But most of all, every one of them is approachable, and I never felt as though I couldn’t ask for help if I needed it.
How long can you go for?
However long you like! You can train for any amount of time from one class or gym session to months at a time. I met people who lived in Thailand and just went once a week to keep fit, as well as a girl staying for 4 months to completely change her life! They have weekly and monthly packages to make things easy to price so you can choose the one which suits your timescale.
How much does it cost?
I paid around 24,000 Thai Baht (about £480 per person) for a 31 day package including accommodation at Little Hill Resort, right next to Titan Fitness. This was based on sharing a double room and included all classes (fitness and yoga), access to the gym, two Muay Thai classes a week (2 hours long) and Saturday beach training.
There are a couple of options for accommodation, so check the Titan Fitness website for latest prices and special offers.
As beach training takes place on a beach around 20 minutes from Titan, you need to pay approx. 200 Baht (about £4) return in a taxi each week, or hire a motorbike to get there (roughly 100-200 Baht per day, or you can get much cheaper weekly or monthly rates).
Do you stay on site?
As part of your package you may want to include accommodation, which if you book with Titan Fitness, will be in Little Hill Resort (directly next to the gym).
I stayed in Little Hill which was great for what we needed. Strong, cold air conditioning, a large fridge for storing snacks and breakfast, WiFi, TV, large wardrobe, desk, huge kingside bed and a small airer to dry your sweaty clothes! The hotel also has a very cute little swimming pool, sun deck, and they change your towels daily which when you shower 3 times a day, is always nice.
If you’re staying for a week or two, then booking your accommodation through Titan at Little Hill is a great way to keep things simple. The accommodation is nice, well-maintained and clean, and it’s very close to the gym too.
If you’re travelling for longer and want more facilities like a kitchen there are lots of options available all around Chalong for various budgets. My advice is to check Tripadvisor for accommodation in Chalong and compare the prices before you go.
I travelled in low season (otherwise known as rainy season!) so there was plenty of choice of places to stay and some seriously low prices around town. If you don’t mind waiting until you arrive there are some great low season deals to be had as you can negotiate on arrival, and also see the accommodation before you commit to anything.
If you’re travelling in high season (November – April) I’d recommend booking your accommodation before you arrive, as it can get pretty busy.
What about food?
Titan Fitness do offer a package which includes food and a couple of personal training sessions, but in my opinion, and it seemed to be the opinion of most of the people I met, the food plan isn’t worth taking.
If you choose to take the meal plan you’ll be restricted to just one restaurant for all of your meals, and the selection is very limited; around 10 choices, which if doing every day for a month, could get very boring very quickly. Plus it doesn’t work out any cheaper.
My advice would be to buy your food as you go. There are plenty of places to eat in Chalong, and you’ll also want to treat yourself to a meal outside of town every once in a while, especially on your rest day on Sundays.
If you don’t know what you should be eating, then book yourself in for a nutrition session with one of the trainers when you arrive, and they’ll be able to give you anything from a few pointers to a full diet and nutrition programme.
What restaurants are there in the town?
There are about 20 restaurants within easy walking distance of Titan. The entire town of Chalong is geared towards people who are training, and there are several other fitness camps and dedicated Muay Thai training camps in the area. Here are a few of my favourites, including what I think are the best things on the menu, and rough prices.
Tony’s – This is the closest restaurant to Titan, and definitely one of the cheapest in the area. They do simple food, like chicken and vegetables, steak and salad, and they have the biggest fresh coconuts in the area (coconut water is amazing for recovery!). Don’t expect service with a smile, but at around 50 – 120 Baht (£1 – £2.50) per meal, it doesn’t really matter.
Ali’s BBQ – Around 200m from Titan towards the sea, Ali’s is a cool little shack-style restaurant with a barbeque out front. The best things on the menu here are anything barbequed including chicken skewers and some of the best steaks in the area. They also deliver to anywhere in the Chalong area – just drop them a private message on their Facebook page. Dishes from 150 – 300 Baht (£3 – £6).
Rich House – Next to a convenience store around 100m from Titan, Rich House has some of the best (and cheapest) Thai food in town. I didn’t always know what I was ordering but it’s fun to just point at pictures and enjoy whatever comes out of the kitchen. It’s all delicious. Dishes from 80 – 200 Baht (£1.60 to £4).
Unit 27 Muscle Bar – This unassuming place doesn’t look like a restaurant from the outside but inside it’s an air-conditioned paradise with some of the best training food in the area. Look out for the ‘bulkasaurus’, a 5 egg omelette for hardcore weight training, and the delicious protein balls they have behind the counter. Dishes from 100 – 200 Baht (£2 – £4).
Greze – At the top of the road near the main highway is Greze, which serves traditional Greek yoghurt with honey or fruit puree – amazing. They also do delicious breakfasts of eggs with avocado, and lunch spreads of pita breads with meze; olives, pickles, hummous, tzaziki, poached eggs and salad. Dishes on the more expensive side, at 250 – 300 Baht (£5 – £6).
Earth Eats – These guys offer a relaxed atmosphere with couches and floor seating, and focus mainly on smoothies and raw desserts. Great for a treat, but the star of the menu is the double espresso coconut. A whole coconut with two shots of espresso dropped into the water! Smoothies approx. 180 Baht (£3.60)
Cocoville – Hidden away down a side Soi (street), you’d miss Cocovilles if you didn’t know it existed, but it would be a shame to miss out. It’s one of the more characterful places to eat in Chalong and they have a healthy and a regular menu, so you don’t even have to look at the ‘naughty’ food if you don’t want to. Dishes approx 120 – 250 Baht (£2.40 – £5).
Healthy Corner – A little further up the street towards Tiger Muay Thai, Healthy corner has a menu free from MSG and other nasties, everything is ‘clean’ and calorie controlled. Try the healthy spin on Pad Thai, it’s really great. Dishes from 100 – 250 Baht (£2 – £5).
Is there much else to do in Chalong?
Chalong is a pretty quiet place, and it’s really designed for people to get fit and healthy! Dozens of Muay Thai and fitness camps are scattered throughout town and the restaurants all cater for weight loss and those looking to get fighting fit! This means that nightlife is extremely low-key and you’re more likely to see people sipping a fresh coconut of an evening, rather than a beer.
That being said, you do find a fair number of people enjoying a drink on ‘cheat days’ (Saturdays and Sundays) in a couple of bars. Massi and Chalong Reggae are the most popular drinking bars in town, and Massi also shows big sports games like rugby, football and Aussie Rules.
Roughly once a month there is a huge BBQ held at Tiger Muay Thai which includes as much beer as you want, although rumour has it the food is terrible. Also picture a bunch of beer-starved fighters having a huge pissup and you’ll probably get an idea of what you’re in for. I skipped it.
Not surprisingly, one of the most popular things to do in Chalong is to go for a massage. There are lots of massage houses all along the main road near Titan, and prices range from 250 – 400 Baht for an hour, depending on whether they use oil / tiger balm or not.
At weekends you can also go and explore the rest of the island or get a boat over to nearby Phi Phi island. Warning: This may not be in-keeping with your new lifestyle as buckets on the beach are a bit of a Phi Phi mainstay!
What about Phuket? Is it safe? How do I get around the island?
Phuket is one of Thailand’s busiest and most tourist-focused areas so there is no shortage of things to do. Nearby you’ll find Wat Chalong, the Big Buddha, Kata and Karon beaches, Patong Beach (if you’re feeling brave!) and the Phuket Night Market (Saturdays and Sundays only).
It’s very safe in Phuket and the best way to get around is by motorbike. You can rent a bike from only 100 Baht a day, but I’d recommend spending a little more to make sure that your bike is new and reliable. Petrol is cheap (about 25 Baht or 50p a litre) and a tank lasts ages.
If you’re not confident on a motorbike, as I’m not – read about that here, then taxis are available everywhere. They’re not cheap (around 400 Baht for a 15 minute journey seems to be the going rate!) but they get you where you need to be.
There is a great shopping mall around 15 minutes away called ‘Central Festival’, which has western shops such as H&M and Dorothy Perkins. An absolute treat when you’re used to the usual backpacking garb. There’s also a Tesco around 5 minutes away by bike if you want to stock up on essentials.
What should I pack?
You can get clothes washed in Chalong for around 40 Baht (80p) per kilo, so as long as you’re happy to wash regularly, you can get away with packing not much at all. For my 5 week stay I had one pair of shorts, one pair of cycling shorts, one pair of leggings, 6 workout tops, 3 sports bras, 6 pairs of socks and one pair of trainers.
Don’t bother bringing any dressy clothes unless you’re planning on going into one of the island’s resort towns like Karon or Patong. People in Chalong just dress down in shorts and singlets most of the time.
What about visas?
People from select countries such as the UK, Australia and most of Europe can apply for a visa on arrival in Thailand. The rule at the time of writing is that you get 15 days if arriving overland or 30 days if arriving by air.
If you’re planning a long stay you can apply for a long stay visa before you arrive. I applied for a 2 month visa from Phnom Penh in Cambodia which has the option of being extended to 3 months. The price for this was US$60 including the fee for the travel agent to process it on my behalf.
Always check the visa requirements for your country of origin before you travel.
When should I go?
Unlike your standard ‘fly and flop’ holiday, it really doesn’t matter what the weather is like when you’re training. In fact, a little rain can be brilliant to cool you down!
I travelled in the wet season (July and August) and on average it was cloudy, with sunny spells and massive downpours! Usually though, you’ll get a sharp shower followed by lovely sunshine – it’s just unpredictable and crazy!
If you travel in the warm season you can spend your days lazing by the pool between workout sessions, but you might find it hard to work out in the heat. Luckily the gym has air conditioning.
How do I book?
Ready to book? See the Titan Fitness website for their latest prices and offers.
Phew! That was a long one! I hope that’s answers all your questions about training at Titan Fitness in Thailand, but if you want to know anything else, please let me know in the comments below. Look out for my post next week which will show how the 5 weeks has changed me.
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Disclaimer: I received a small discount on my stay with Titan Fitness in return for my honest opinion on this site. As always, my views are entirely my own. As if you’d expect any less from me!