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Phuket, the changing face of tourism

 “Sanuk” is a Thai word meaning "to have a good time, fun, derive pleasure and joy from something."

Thailand is a time honoured favourite of backpackers travelling through South East Asia. It's warm climate, spiritual philosophy and exuberante nightlife has always been a drawcard for the thrill seeking traveller.  Phuket was the go to point for travellers to get the overzealous night life and crystal waters, however this scene is changing.  Phuket, once popularised for its prostitution, happy endings and buckets laced with the latest drug, has been working heavily with the community to change it's identity.  Following the devastation of the Tsunami, every effort has been made to encourage a new population of travellers, and it appears that their efforts have paid off.

There is a new tourist that is frequenting the torquoise waters of Thailand.  In amongst the Russian expats, and crowds of Chinese cruise ship tourists, is a constant crowd of fitness travellers.  Instead of vacationing to an exotic location and sipping on Margaritas, these tourists are using their time to sculpt their bodies and cleans the toxins of the sedentary lifestyle of home.  This phenomenon is trending throughout South East Asia, however it is Phuket that is showing to be a favoured destination, with hundreds of gyms, fitness retreats and wellness bootcamps on offer. When I arrived in Phuket, i was immediately taken aback by the humidity. It was March and the tail end of the ‘dry session’.  Despite the discomfort of the sweat dripping down my back, I was relishing the warmth, having been in the icy cold European winter just prior.  In the 30 degree celcius days, I could feel my bones thawing out and this ignited the fire in my belly for my next adventure.

Inspired by my friend and fellow blogger  Amanda the fit traveller (@amandathefittraveller).  I had decided to join the trend and participate in a three week fitness program.  Maximum Fitness had welcomed me with open arms and provided an array of fitness activities including Personal Training, Cross-Fit and Muay Thai Boxing. They even had a guesthouse that provided a comfortable nights rest after a hard days workout.

Now, even at the best of times I am not some super sleek bikini body rocking a six pack, so my expectations of what this three weeks could offer where pretty realistic. I guess that is the first step with a successful health realistic. I was out to strengthen and condition (some gym lingo I picked up 😝). While I have been working at maintaining my body condition over the past 10 months using the techniques outlined in “Staying fit while travelling)”, I could feel that my body needed some focused attention.

So I signed up for daily personal training sessions. I would buddy this up with cardio sessions in the afternoon and a tailored dietary plan. The first week started with me super ready to go. And after the first PT I was like...’I didn’t even know I had muscles there’. My trainer was a local Thai girl who specialises in body sculpting. She was incredible! The hour long session left me feeling stronger and empowered, but at the same time completely exhausted. The heat was hard. Really hard!  30+ celcius day with high humidity. It made me sweat...a lot. Draining my body of much needed energy. And it felt as though no matter how much water I drank I was always dehydrated.  So having a water bottle in hand was a common accessory for me. 

Hint: if you come somewhere tropical, bring a reusable water bottle. Plastic is killing our oceans

By week two, my body had began to acclimatise to the tropical climate and I felt like I was pushing myself harder and further every session.  With this extra level of intensity, there were some days that I needed to give my body a little TLC. Luckily, Phuket is busting at the seams with massage houses offering quality services at very reasonable prices. And there is nothing better to stretch your body than a Thai massage.  These petite Thai women twist and bend your body so that all the little accessory muscles are stretched and you are able to walk like a normal person again.  

I was also surprised to see that my body was changing shape. My clothes were sitting much the same but my posture had improved.  Plus add to that a bit of a tan that I had accumulated with my ‘beach time’ and I was feeling pretty good about myself when I looked in the mirror. 

Doing the training to improve my body strength and posture, I also wanted to make sure that I was fuelling it with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Eating every day at the Refuel Cafe, made this really simple.  The menu at this place is calorie controlled and portion controlled.  Talk about making getting healthy easy.  They went the extra mile by coordinating my meal plan, and had me full of delicious and nutritionally balanced food.  I never felt hungry and I got to recalibrate my eating habits. It couldn’t have been simpler.

Now I’m at the end of the three weeks..and about to move on to the next city and I feel great. I have a new lease on life and a body to match. I never thought I would be a fitness junkie but this could be a new direction for Katie’s Two Shoes. 

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