If you find yourself falling out of shape, either slowly and steadily or surprisingly fast during your time in Thailand, this article will help you get back on the right track by covering the best options for getting fit and staying in shape in Bangkok.
Lots of foreign expats call Bangkok their home, and many travellers and those living the digital nomad lifestyle choose to stop off in this mega-metropolis for a few weeks or months. Setting up a base in Thailand’s capital city has many advantages such as the excellent (mostly) overland travel links to the rest of the country as well as the numerous destinations in the region, and the world at large, that can be flown to from the two international airports in Bangkok.
Combine that with the low cost of living, the easy way of life and the plethora of western comforts never more than a stone’s throw away from traditional Thai living, and you can see why people of all walks of life choose to come and live in the City of Angels AKA Bangkok.
The Downsides of Living in Bangkok
The negative consequences of living in Bangkok tend to often be caused by some of the reasons people choose to live here in the first place. The modern buildings and amenities mean that it’s been months since I walked up a flight of stairs. Lifts and escalators are almost everywhere and getting that free workout that comes from walking up a flight of stairs isn’t something you are going to get out here, at least not on a regular basis.
The almost constant sunshine is one of the key attractions of moving to Thailand, but it also means it can be uncomfortably hot at times. Coupled with the high levels of humidity, the outdoors activities that you might have enjoyed back home now seem out of the question. Even a walk to the shops can be a major chore.
Thanks to the seemingly never ending supply of taxis in Bangkok and their amazingly cheap rates, walking anywhere just isn’t done here. Why walk out in the heat and humidity when an air-conditioned Toyota can take you where you want to go for less than the price of an iced drink?
Thai food is some of the best in the world and in Thailand it is often very inexpensive, as is most other food from around the world. Those new in town tend to go to town on the delicious food that is so cheap that you can try out many dishes per meal, when if were being honest, one dish would’ve been enough.
The abundance of nightlife and relatively cheap cost of drinking until all hours can often be the final nail in the coffin that heralds the passing of your once impressive levels of fitness and the early onset of the dreaded middle aged spread.
So with all that in mind, it’s probably time you started thinking about maintaining your pre-Bangkok levels of fitness and weight before it’s too late, or if you’ve been here a while, making an effort to reverse the downward trend!
The Best Options for Keeping Fit in Bangkok
When looking for somewhere to live or stay for a while, choosing a condo with its own gym or swimming pool is a good way to increase your chances of staying lean and healthy. However most condo gyms aren’t the best and they often get overcrowded at times. A gym on your doorstep can’t be beaten for convenience but if it doesn’t have what you need or is too busy to use then it’s not going to be of much use.
Join a Gym
The next best option is to sign up with one of the commercial gym chains in the city. California WOW was once the biggest chain but after going bust a few months ago, Fitness First and True Fitness are the other two main options. Gym membership isn’t cheap however, with a standard Fitness First membership starting from 2,500 baht (£55 / $85) a month and with True Fitness being even more.
This is probably more than you would pay back home and when you consider the low cost of living in Thailand, these prices can be more than you might have be expecting to have to pay. Lots of hotels also allow non-guests to use their gyms of a monthly fee so it is worth exploring the local hotels in your area.
The Thai government seems to put a lot of emphasis on keeping fit into their social policies and at around 6pm each evening, in car parks (usually Tesco) across the country, an instructor and a large sound system will turn up to lead large crowds in complicated dance routines for an hour set to thumping Eurotrance.
These outdoor aerobics sessions have to be seen to be believed and even if you don’t join in its worth visiting for the spectacle. Lumpini Park has the biggest service running each day with large crowds taking over the centre area of the park. If you are wondering how everybody knows all the moves while you have no idea, you can buy DVDs of the popular routines to practice at home before showing your moves off out in the wild.
Speaking of Lumpini Park, there are outdoors exercise stations scattered around the park ranking from rudimentary parallel bars to cardio machines and resistance gear to a fully-fledged free weights area, all out in the open. There is also an indoors gym in the park but it requires membership.