So, me and my buddy were driving around on a motorbike looking for the Chay Yai gym. Having just arrived here a few days ago (and not knowing my way around), getting lost was inevitable as we were searching for an area that isn’t even listed on the maps that are passed out at most of the tourism booths throughout the city. We took a wrong turn somewhere (or several) and ended up at a cool temple (in the picture to the left).
From there, we asked some locals for directions and due to the language barrier, they couldn’t really get their point across so rather than giving us verbal directions to follow, one Thai guy jumped on his motorbike and guided us to a camp that was a couple blocks away. It wasn’t Chay Yai, but at this point, we didn’t care anymore as we just wanted to train.
When we walked in, we were told to warm up and that the head trainer would be there shortly. Apparently there was some sort of fight in town and he went to try to mediate things. At this point, the gym was really quiet and following our warm up, my buddy started his pad rounds. While he was doing that, I was just waiting for my turn as they only had the 1 pad holder.
At about the midway point of my friends pad-work session, Lex got back and so did about 8 of his students. Lex (the owner of the camp), then strapped up and hopped in the ring to finish off the rounds for my friend. Once he was worked to complete exhaustion, I got called in. Here’s a brief clip of me training with Lex (note the sick graffiti in the background)..
He was a good trainer and we both got as many rounds as we could handle. As for the actual students/fighters that were training there, the skill level seemed pretty low to be honest. For the most part, it was backpacker-types that were likely passed a brochure somewhere along the moat. That being said, I was only there for the one afternoon so that’s certainly not enough time to judge the quality of the students that roll through the gym on a more regular basis.
As I mentioned, me and my friend both got more than enough pad time from Lex himself and the atmosphere within the gym (with the graffiti and whatnot) was pretty cool. Another plus is that you can jog past the temples to start your training and in addition to the scenery, Chiang Mai has really clean air (unlike Bangkok).
I didn’t stay there long enough to really get a feel for what the training would be like for someone training there on a semi-permanent basis. From my initial perspective, it had its positives (nice running path with temples, cool atmosphere, good trainer) and its negatives (very few trainers, low skill level amongst the students). I didn’t see any on-site accommodation but in Chiang Mai, you can find a room to rent for about 100 usd per month and there’s plenty of rooms available so finding a place to chill and sleep shouldn’t be a problem.
It’s certainly worth checking out if you’re in Chiang Mai but if the purpose of your trip is purely about training, then there are much better gyms (throughout Phuket, Bangkok and Pattaya) that you should base yourself out of. It was a good overall experience though.
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