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F.A. Group Gym
Brendan Reilly posted a topic in Gym Advice and ExperiencesPosted about another few gyms on here and got some great feedback so hoping for the same! Going to Thailand soon and I’m considering spending some time at the famous F.A. Group gym as I’ve spoken with them and they now do accommodation. Has anyone been here and trained or spent a bit of time there? Any information very thankful
Lamnammoon Sor Sumalee was an absolute legend from the Golden Era who specialized in knees. He won his first ever fight with a knee KO (He was nicknamed the Vampire of Knees by the press). He has his own gym now, situated in Ubon Ratchathani, one of the four great city of Isaan. It's the region he grew up in. I went to Lamnammoon's gym last year (2018) between end of September and early December. Damn, I don't even know where to start... It was SO great. I love this place to bits. Before I keep going whoever reads this may want to check out Sylvie's take on "Gym recommendations" if they haven't done already. It's always difficult recommending a gym because gyms are not frozen in time and everybody has their own expectations about what they want out of things in their lives. Lamnammoon's gym, like any other gym, go through changes all the time. The training partners I had during my stay there and some of the coaches I was blessed enough to learn from are not currently there anymore. And those people contributed a lot to my progress and happiness. Now, Lamnammoon is Lamnammoon no matter what. His gym has a its own soul that he's slowly been nurturing for years with all his heart which I think has remained the same to this very day. It's an intense, old school, leaning toward Muay Khao (but not exclusively at all. He adapts to the fighter's nature), big on fight kind of gym. If you give your heart to the gym and work hard, you will get the equivalent attention and focus right back to you. If you'd rather train not too hard and just be a chill tourist, you won't get ignored or looked down upon or neglected but you'll get the same kind of nonchalance in return. It's a fair place where you reap what you sow. Unless you're a woman. However to be fair the disparity between genders really is not as great as what you'd expect in a gym that not so long ago still didn't allow any woman in the ring. Clinching put aside I got absolute great training and attention like everybody else. No shady behaviors from anyone either. First day you get there Lamnammoon will probably take you on pads himself to assess where you're at. Then he might advise you to take it lightly the first week, and gradually build up the intensity of your training to match the overall level. Definitely take it light the first week! Don't go all in at the beginning. He told me how he saw SO many Westerners coming to his gym and going crazy berserk the first few days to try and impress everyone, before quickly dying out like a deflating balloon. I don't know whether you wish to fight or not, but if you want to fight you should be serious and consistent and not skip training (unless you're ill). Lamnammoon absolutely loves people with good heart. That means: being humble, training hard all the time, never quitting, not showing fatigue, not complaining about comfort issues. When he was a young fighter Lamnammoon used to sleep on the ring alongside his buddies and his pillow was a pad, and that's it. So, I don't encourage you to complain about being in pain or feeling uncomfortable unless it's really serious, or unless you don't intend to be taken seriously as a fighter. .Accommodations. > Staying at Lamnammoon's home: you can choose the whole package of training/room/food for 28 000 baht per month. You'll be housed at Lamnammoon's own home in one of the several rooms he rents mostly for foreigners. There's aircon in the room. You can also get WiFi. No TV though. And if you have the same room I had: no warm water and an annoying mouse running around and munching on your bananas lol. His home is situated 6km away from the gym. You get fed twice a day (Lunch + diner after each session) with delicious home cooked local dishes (it's absolutely wonderful I kid you not). That's the option I took and I don't regret it one bit even though it's far from cheap. But investing in such a great gym feels awesome, and being around Lamnammoon and his family all the time is too precious for words. Sometimes he takes you out to the restaurant alongside his family. What an honor. His wife and his son are very welcoming and kind. He also has a daughter but I didn't interact with her much. I saw his dad a few times and I was too intimidated to discuss with him much. He had an aura of pure wisdom and kindness about him. Such wonderful people. > Staying at an hotel near the gym: some of my fellow training partners from the West were staying at this hotel very close to the gym. It's 5000 baht a month I think and the quality is pretty decent. The cost of training at Lamnammoon's (without food and lodgings) is 10 000 baht per month. So hotel + training = 15 000 baht. There are restaurants around the hotel and one meal usually cost around 40 baht or something. If you do the math you'll see this option is way cheaper. You'll also be more free to leave the gym whenever you want, whereas if you stay at Lamnammoon's house you've got to leave when the driver leaves (the driver being Lamnammoon or his son or whoever gives us a lift). Unless you have your own vehicle: you can rent a motorbike if you wish. Lamnammoon can take care of this for you. It's not expansive. Sometimes I had to cut short my conditioning/stretching at the end of session cause we were leaving. It's simply out of order to make anyone wait for me. This was a bit of a downer for me sometimes. .Training. After the first week of adaptation that was quite light (yet still painful because I was running on mostly no sleep and I had weird cramps all over my body), this is what my training schedule there looked like: > Morning session (6am to between 9 and 10am): ° Run between 10-14km (mostly 12k) from 5.45am until around 7am, time when you should be arriving at the gym, getting ready for the morning session. The running route goes from Lamnammoon's home to the gym. You can wander off track to make it a long run since the actual distance between the two places is only 6km like I said. You leave your gym bag in Lamnammoon's car and he brings them to you later on in the morning. ° 10min shadowbox ° Many rounds on the bag (I can't give you a number. It's until you get called for padwork. And when you're done with padwork you go back on the bag until you get called for clinch.) ° 3 rounds on pads. If you have a fight coming it's 5 rounds and they're more intense. (The young Thai fighters there get 7 rounds sometimes. I honestly envied them a little. Some days I didn't envy them at all though. Lol.) Depending on the coach you're assigned with, it can go from a slightly boring and chill to real fun and tiring as hell. Lamnammoon is the absolute peak of both great fun and so fucking hard as hell it's like you're climbing Mordor without Sam by your side. ° Around 30min clinch. A bit more when you have a fight (if you're a woman you get less unless you are very insistent I suppose, which I wasn't) When clinching is done it's back on the bags for endless reps. ° Drills/reps on the bag. Sometimes on your own, sometimes supervised by Lamnammoon or Kru Lampang (when it's supervised, you fucking die). The basic instructions for the drills are as follows: 200 hundred speed kicks, 300 hundred knees, 300 teep, 5min of only elbows. This is the bare minimum. After a while my own routine looked like this: 300 hundred speed kicks, 200 hundred knees on the "uppercut wall bag thing", 300-400 hundred knees on the normal bag, 200-400 teep, 5min elbows, and whatever else I felt like adding as extra bonus if I have time left. °Conditioning (abs, pull-ups, push-ups, whatever) + stretching. This part is almost always up to you. There were times when we did it in groups, but mostly not. Then it's around 10am and training is done for the morning. You go eat. Afterwards if you're silly like me you skip sleeping and instead go for a walk into the city center to do errands that aren't necessary or you just chill on your bed watching Netflix. When afternoon session finally comes, you curse yourself hard for not having slept. Lol. > Afternoon session (3.45pm to 7pm): ° Run 6km. I never did more than 6km, never less either. I fucking hated these runs because of the heat, the traffic, the road work, the dust, and the occasional acidic reflux from not having digested my lunch properly yet. ° Around 20min skipping rope. I remember one blissful day when Kru Lampang was talking to another trainer while we were skipping rope and completely forgot about us. They always tell us when to stop skipping and if you're a good student you just don't stop until told to. That day I must've skipped for about 35min haha. Sweet hell. ° Rounds on the bags, same thing as morning. ° 3 rounds of padwork (5 if you have a fight) then back on the bags until called for clinch. ° Around 30min clinch (when I wasn't clinching I just did a mix of shadowboxing and bagwork. Or I worked drills with another partner that wasn't clinching. Or I got extra technical instructions on stuff from available coaches) ° Sweet drills of hell on the bags (same thing as in the morning) ° Conditioning and stretching. Then you either eat at the gym or at Lamnammoon's or wherever and I don't know about anyone else but usually at around 9pm I'm dead on my bed. Except for the first week: it was sleepless nights after sleepless nights. /!\ Some important notes: - All rounds last 5 minutes. - The last 30 seconds of each rounds must be done faster and more intense (the coaches all go leow leow leow at you which means speed speed speed). - After the end of each round you go straight on the floor and do around 20 push-ups, then off you go drink some water. - On Tuesday and Saturday mornings you get Muay Thai sparring instead of padwork. We all get to spar each other in turns. No exclusions here. One round lasts 10min. The whole sparring time usually lasts around 1h or so. If there are a lot of people, they have to make the rounds last only 5min so as to make sure everyone spars everyone. But you don't get one min rests after those 5min, you just switch partner quickly that's all. - On Friday morning it's boxing sparring. Same thing as Muay Thai sparring when it comes to rounds and such. - Sometimes we get a session that's all freestyle and looks like no other. But mostly they're all like what I've described above. - You drink water from a shared bucket filled with ice. The water is super cold. You can bring your own bottle if you'd rather. - There's a stereo blasting Thai music. Mostly country sounding Thai music. Sometimes one of the boy or the foreigner would connect their phone to the speaker and put their own music, for a change. - There are showers and toilets at the gyms (one for women, one for men). You can shower there if you wish. Frogs like these place too. - You can leave your gears at the gym (gloves, shinpads, skip rope, bands). Just make sure you don't leave them lying around it's not polite. - There are dogs at the gym. They run all around you during training. They're adorable and so cute. At first I was annoyed by their clinginess but eventually they grew on me. There are also ants. Those on the other hand are real painful fuckers. You'll see. .The trainers. > Dam: he was a young padholder same age as me (28). He stayed at Lamnammoon's house too so we bonded like friends, which means his padwork never brought about any kind of anxiety to be "worthy of your coach" or something like that in me. His padwork style was enjoyable, even though boring at times, but some days I really liked the fact that it didn't stress me. He was insecure and sometimes asked me afterwards whether his padwork skills are good or not. I had to comfort his insecurities which felt odd. I liked him though. I don't know if he's still there because he didn't enjoy that work so much (it's very tiring and doesn't pay so well) and I don't see him on Lamnammoon's Instagram posts anymore. > Kru Lampang : he's absolutely awesome. Very cheerful and cheeky and so fun to work with. He's very tiring but his padwork style is not linear and while you do suffer a lot you also don't feel the time fly by, cause he's so much fun. That said I will never forget my last rounds of padwork with him before my first fight. It was on a Sunday morning and he made me start the very last round with 50 kicks and 50 knees. It doesn't sound so bad like that but living it was quite something lol. > Kru Rengrad : he's as awesome as Lampang but more bear-like in his aura: at first you may think he's grumpy and not interested in you, but in truth he's such a teddy bear and he's very generous. He's so good with punches. His padwork is awfully tiring because it's relentless. He doesn't stop the rythm and hardly ever stop to correct you. Thank God he never makes you do speed kicks at the beginning or ending of his rounds otherwise... Well, our loss I suppose. > Lamnammoon (aka Kru Yo): the big boss is plain batshit crazy. Padwork with him is like a hyena on crack doing a bunch of summersault on a rollercoaster at full speed without brakes while singing the Pokemon theme song with a chipmunk voice. I love his padwork style so much despite getting anxiety attacks every time I know I'm going to be on pads with him. Pressure to not suck and all that. I didn't experience any other trainers while I was there. When I look at Lamnammoon's Instagram posts nowadays I notice several new heads. Kru Lampang is still there but Dam and Kru Rengrad are not. They might come back or not. God only knows. .Thai Fighters. > Robert, Petch, Bahn, and Top are the main fighters there and they are still very much there and thriving. They've been at the gym for around four years when I got there last year. They're still teenagers and all except Top still go to school. They are so damn skilled and a joy to train with! They're pretty small and light but it doesn't matter. Unless you are truly way way bigger than them, you'll progress a ton by their side. Even if you're a giant you'll progress. I'm very introverted so I didn't get to warm up to them fast enough before it was time to leave. I suppose it's for the best. They see so many people come and go they may not be so enclined to become best pal with you and then having their heart broken because you must leave. That said, they're still welcoming and fun to be around. Just watching them in their home (they live at the gym) is a blessing in itself. > Wut was a new fighter when I arrived and as of right now he's not there anymore. He was 18 I think. I was amazed by him so much. I loved watching him blasting the pads. I have a printed picture of him stuck on my door hahaha. Yeah I'm a fan of his. .Ubon Ratchatani. > The city itself isn't really pretty at first sight - but there are some really beautiful spots if you care to go look deeper around. I'll let you discover them for yourself. It's a big town with big shopping mals like big C and local street markets and you can go to the movies or get massages or go swim at one of the local swimming pools that are almost always empty, etc. If you're like me and you don't care much about night life and distraction from Muay Thai, but still likes to wander around sometimes in huge mals (I don't have those in my own city so they were novelties too and I was fascinated) and still occasionally feel like going to the movies, you'll like it enough. If not, well... You'll get bored quick. But then again you don't go to a gym like Lamnammoon's to be chill and comfy and waste yourself away at night, do you? It sounds almost paradoxical to me. _________ Lamnammoon really values hard work and dedication. When he saw how much I ran and faster than everyone else on most days, he seemed genuinely pleased. The two weeks leading up to my first fight (after almost two months being there), I didn't wait to be told to go up to the gym on Sunday mornings to get extra trainings even though I didn't have to. Yeah the gym is open non stop Monday to Sunday. The Thai boys train every single day, morning and evening. They fight often and they usually get between three days to a whole week off after every fight. I only went to train on two Sunday mornings once I got a fight, otherwise I usually took that day off. But you can definitely train everyday if you feel like it... There were some Sunday mornings when I still did a morning run, for example. Lamnammoon is really kind and funny and helpful. If you ask for help he will definitely help you, and he never forgets about you. But if you need something and you don't ask, he's not going to be a mind reader and check up on you every single second of every single day. He still very much cares about you having a good training and being happy at his gym. A few times throughout my stay he asked me with concern whether I was homesick, and if I was happy at all. Because I'm introverted and very quiet and intimidated by his charisma he thought maybe I wasn't happy. So, if you go there do make sure to let him know how you feel if it's something genuinely positive. He has a big heart in every way. Also, something that my introversion made me miss (until I got some company at his home who were chattier people than me): he's got a lot of stories to tell but you need to ask him questions otherwise he won't tell you anything. Thanks to Broke, Rocky and Jodie for doing what I couldn't do at all which is basically talking to him. Lol. Now the only downside: if you're a woman, you'll get less clinch practice. You won't be prompted to do it by the trainers. The Thai boys might feel awkward clinching with you (not all of them. Wut definitely did not like clinching a woman...). The pre-fight massage you get is less thorough than the boys' for obvious but still frustrating reasons. You may actually get less fights, though I'm not so sure about that last one at all. I got only one fight because of my height, or so I was told. I'm tall for a woman and most Thai women are relatively small which is not an appealing disparity for most gyms with the smallest fighter. I was envious of the Western men at the gym getting fights after fights after fights. Some even complained of having too many ones booked... Tsk. They don't fucking know their damn luck. _________ This answer turned out longer than intended. I probably still left out lots of stuff though. Don't hesitate to ask me more questions if you have any. If you do go there you can contact me anytime on here for any kind of things. Although you may not need me at all because there's a super British guy that lives in Ubon called Mickaël who used to train full-time at Lamnammoon's not long ago and who still goes to the gym occasionally to train or help around or serves as guide for the fresh new farangs. He will definitely help you if you meet him. Or Kru Yo (Lamnammoon) can put you in contact with him if it's needed. I intend on writing a day by day account (diary style) of my whole stay there. I'll post updates in here as I go along in this little project. If you're interested I encourage you to follow the thread. In any case, thank you a lot for reading me. I hope you found this review useful. Good luck on your own journey, fellow travelers! > Anyone interested in going to Lamnammoon's gym should regularly check out his Instagram page to see how his gym is doing and what the training looks like at any given time. He post videos often : https://instagram.com/lamnammoonmuaythai?igshid=11qff920fl1ol > Also a must see is this recent short documentary made by a woman named Angie. It's wonderful: