I left my old gym last year after living and training there for more than four years. It was a difficult but necessary decision, and one of the things that made me apprehensive about leaving was the notion that I might not be able to find somewhere that I felt as comfortable as I had done there for so long.
In my search for a new gym, I tried out the following places:
Chawan Club Muay Thai
Sor Ruenrom (see my review)
Bangkok Navy Sports Club’s Muay Thai Gym
Each of these gyms had their own positive aspects to them, but none of them felt like they really fit. Whether it was the location, the price, the quality of the training, the schedule, or just the feeling I got while I was there, there was always something that stopped me from staying.
Eminent Air was the only gym I stayed at for any length of time, as I really enjoyed working with Fahlaep, one of the trainers there, as well as some of the cool people who trained there. However, I’m only available for mornings, and they only clinch in the afternoons, so I would always miss out on that. As well as this, I mentioned to a friend that it ‘just didn’t feel like home’.
I’m delighted to say that I’ve finally found a gym that does, Attachai Muay Thai.
The gym was recommended to me by Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu, who had recently trained there and reviewed the gym. She had lots of good things to say about it, so I decided to check it out for myself and have been there ever since. Here’s what it’s been like for me so far.
My First Session at Attachai Muay Thai
When I first turned up to train, Attachai saw me approaching the gym and walked up to the gate to introduce himself. He came across as very friendly. To my surprise, he even accompanied me on my run (something which is now a daily occurrence).
Before entering the ring for the first time, I asked him if I should go under the bottom rope or through the middle. He hesitated for a moment before saying I should go under, but as soon as he watched me do it, changed his mind and said that I didn’t need to.
There was a monk from Surin, Attachai’s hometown, visiting and performing a ceremony at the gym while I was training. This means that Attachai had to hop out of the ring a couple of times in between rounds to take part and make merit. Only in Thailand! Here’s a picture of that ceremony, Attachai still with his shin pads on and me in the ring in the background.
What’s Attachai Like to Train With?
Attachai is a legendary fighter, with Lumpini titles and over 200 to his name. Here’s a highlight of some of his fights:
He has a lot of experience in teaching foreigners, having taught at Evolve in Singapore as well as Tampa Muay Thai Gym in the US. He’s very friendly and keeps the atmosphere at the gym fun, but doesn’t let you slack at all and puts in the work alongside you. Before I went back to the gym for my second session, I mentioned that I would come early to run beforehand, expecting to meet him afterwards. It turned out that he woke up early to come along with me. Even on the days just before and after my fight, he was getting at me to spar, do my situps and get my bagwork in. As happy as I am to do it all myself, I really enjoy having someone to push me like that.
Pads with Attachai is hard work. I almost dread it these days because I’m always dead afterwards, but it’s lots of fun. He’s very technical and usually has me working on timing, which means he’s always reminding me to slow down and stop rushing. At the same time, he always wants a lot of power and is constantly throwing stuff back at me, so a round with him leaves very little room for rest. He’ll often ask you to do some crazy jumping kicks as well, which I’m particularly bad at.
Attachai is very much involved in everything that goes on at the gym. He warms up, runs, jumps rope and does sit ups alongside everyone else, and when he’s not working one on one with someone, he watches people with other trainers and gives instruction from the outside.
Even when Attachai’s not there, the training is still great. At a lot of gyms, when the head trainer is away, the quality of the training goes downhill. This was certainly the case at my last gym, and I’ve heard similar complaints from friends at other gyms. This isn’t a problem at Attachai Muay Thai, as all the trainers are very attentive.
Here’s an overview of the other trainers at the gym.
Kru Wang is pretty small, so I do a lot of work with him. His style is very tricky, and he has this one particular kick which I can never see because it’s so fast and comes at an angle I’m not used to. It lands on me every time he throws it, and the picture below pretty much sums up how well I do with that.
He always takes time out to show me techniques and tidy things up. This has been particularly helpful in clinching, where he’s taught me some trips and sweeps that I could never get the hang of before.
Khom is an active fighter and a former Max Muay Thai champion. Here’s a highlight of the last show he fought on (he’s in the blue corner in the second to last fight). He’s a really nice guy and is always happy to make conversation. Working with him is usually lighter than with everyone else, which is probably because he’s so nice, which means he’s great for controlled sparring.
Kru Pong is a man of few words and can usually be seen quietly observing people in the gym. For this reason, I didn’t get to know him immediately, but I now really enjoy training with him. Although he doesn’t talk much, he is always smiling and is happy to help. Before we ever spoke to each other, he would come and hold the bag for me to do extra kicks, follow me on my runs on his bicycle, and smack me in the gut as I do my sit ups. Now that we know each other a bit better, he often steps in while I’m sparring or doing pads with someone else to demonstrate techniques for me. The other day, he was watching me do padwork and wanted me to work on my knees, so put on a bellypad and had me do those with him afterwards, while Attachai followed us around the ring and gave me extra instruction.
At some of the other gym’s I’ve trained at, my experience would depend on which trainer I got to work with on any particular day. Here, I get a lot out of every session no matter who I’m training with, and I feel like I’m getting really well-rounded training with the combination of everyone there.
Fighting with Attachai Muay Thai
I had my first fight for Attachai Muay Thai less than three weeks after joining the gym and was given a lot of support preparing for it. Since the gym is so new, they’re eager to get their name out there, which means they’re happy to get lots of fights for people who train there.
How to Get to Attachai Muay Thai Gym
The gym is located at Onnut soi 36. If travelling by BTS, get off at Onnut station, and from there, there are two ways to get to the gym. You can either take a songtaew down Onnut road and hop off at soi 36, which costs 8 baht, or take a motorbike taxi.
When you get to soi 36, walk all the way down to the bottom and you’ll see a big sign for the gym above a path.
The little path that leads to the gym is surrounded by greenery, and seems to immediately transport you out of Bangkok. You would never know that such a beautiful place was hidden at the end of the soi. Attachai jokes that it’s a zoo, and with good reason. I usually come across a few birds and monitor lizards in the mornings, and bats in the evenings. Along the way, there are lots of signs with motivational quotes on them.
The gym backs on to a small lake, where the young boys swim and the trainers go fishing. The whole setting is just really lovely and peaceful, in stark contrast to the busy Bangkok streets just a few minutes away.
The gym is kept very clean; I see the trainers sweeping and mopping pretty much every morning as I’m walking in to start my training. Having picked up a few staph infections in my time, it reassures me to see that.
How to Contact Attachai Muay Thai Gym
Bookings and inquiries can be made via Attachai Muay Thai Gym’s Facebook page, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Any enquiries will be answered by Paula or Oh, two Thai women with excellent English who run the gym.
The gym is open every day, and there’s training twice daily, even on Sundays. The gym’s website says that it’s closed on Monday’s but that’s not the case.
Update: Read about my first fight with Attachai Muay Thai Gym.