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Kay Khanomtom

Sinbi Muay Thai - Globo Gym of Phuket?

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Short of three weeks of training during Holiday season, I flew to Thailand with agenda skewed by a group from my camp from Tampa, Florida. Some of the men I traveled with wanted to party, some wanted paradise, and some wanted training. I had three weeks to maximize my experience during my trip to Thailand December 2014 - January 2015. I wanted culture, paradise, vacation, and training. I wanted it all.
I wanted to train but I spent and wasted a lot of time excluded and wasting time on a bag in the U.S. The idea of being in a male dominated camp and being excluded drained enthusiasm of me. When my camp mates suggested Sinbi, I didn't argue. Sinbi is well established with a dominant internet media community revolving around Natasha Sky. I knew that Caley Reece trained and fought out of Sinbi, and my trainers and several former female fighters from out Tampa gym had previously trained there.
But I have a general disdain for mainstream anything. I listen to indie music with a really obnoxious elitism, thrift shop, and respond to everything popular with a polarity. If you tell me something is cool, I will argue for the opposite. I am an admitted over-grown adolescent.
But I have to give credit where credit is due and address my experience at Sinbi Muay Thai on Phuket.
I had a wonderful time training four hours a day. Between sessions, we napped on pristine beaches, drank 40baht toasted coconuts and ate 50baht street pad thai and barbecue. I discovered the joy of sangsom and coke and sunset on a clif over-looking a beach. Rawai beach is paradaise. The Thais were pleasant, relaxed, smiling. Even during the intensity of padwork and sparring, muay thai was relaxed. It's a different cultural contrast going from a camp that prepared you for the machismo of 1 to 1. In Thailand, you give your opponent credit for good strike, and you strike back in kind. The strategy is different.
So did I find Sinbi muay thai inauthentic? Was the branding exhausting? Did I feel overwhelmed by commercialism?
The only time I felt uncomfortable by Sinbi pride was when the front desk lady asked why we didn't stay at Sinbi apartments, and the trainers hounded us to buy Sinbi fight night tickets. We were going anyway, but I am the kind of girl who never went to a high school football game. I didn't feel any pressure to don the Sinbi clad gear and didn't hear any Sinbi superiority propaganda. The trainers, all 13, trained us all differently with different styles and emphasis on different techniques. I spent several days on the basics. A kick and a punch. A knee. A clinch counter. Some made me do 20-20 kicks and some made me do push-ups. None of them seemed to act to appease me. All of them trained me like they cared about their own agenda to make me better at the art they dedicated their life to. Sure, they're being paid to train me, but they trained me for the art.
And that's the soul in muay Thai. Despite the huge westernization a relatively modern and popular camp, the trainers and their training had soul. They spent time and cared. Each one of them, some more than others, made such an incredible impact.
So when I watched this video by Asha


I grew incredibly nostalgic. I miss training in Thailand.

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Hi Kay, great post. Just what I was looking for. What is the ratio of people looking to have a vacation versus training hard in preparation for a fight? Did many people from Sinbi fight while you were there? Was it easy for people to get fights in Phuket? Were there any trainers that you worked better with, and if so were you able to continue training with that trainer if you wanted to?

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I loved reading this review as I could really feel you Kay, your values, your person. And I got to see Sinbi in a new light. I could feel that beach, the combination of sweet relaxation and 4 hours of hard work each day. This is the amazing thing about gyms in Thailand. Not only can gyms change so much even over a few months, but personal expectations, and differences between people produce wildly different experiences. Back in September Sylvie actually recommended Sinbi to someone she didn't know on Twitter because of its reputation for training women - you can see the tweets here - but then the experience was far from expectation. In fact Michelle had such a negative experience she ended up taking a hit financially and flying up to Pattaya to train with Sylvie. She wrote about it here Disappointments and Falling in Love Again. Both experiences are quite real, right? I think the biggest key is getting your expectations in line with the way things are going to be, and figuring out what you are hoping for. It's a little like the question "What college should I go to?" You can be right next to someone having the time of their life, and be miserable. Or the opposite.

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Such great insight, and a great point in how going solo or going with a group can strongly effect experience at any gym. This is one of the things I have struggled with in trying to advise people who ask me about where they should train, or what's "the best gym." It's like asking what's the "best" pie. Depends on what you like, eh? Phuket in general isn't my kinda scene, but then again I'd never ever have imagined myself in Pattaya and yet, here I am. Gyms are businesses and have different clients with different interests, etc. So you just want to find a gym that has the same goals that you do and a lot of the folks who aim for gym-beach-gym-beach get exactly what they want out of the big tourist gyms. I absolutely love my gyms but can't recommend them easily as my needs and specifications for why it's good for me don't translate to a great many other people.

 

If you're looking to try different gyms DO NOT pay in advance! A few of these bigger tourist gyms allow folks to book and pay in advance online, probably offering some discount.  I highly recommend not doing this, just pay for a few days so that you can make an informed decision based on your own experiences and needs.  A guy came out to Pattaya a while back and trained with me one day but then had already paid for two weeks at Fairtex, so that's where he went but he hated the training there. Bummer.

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Hi Kay! I was at Sinbi at the same time as you. We did some clinch drills. It was great seeing you there and I have to agree, it was I good environment for me and my husband also. I believe the trainer that chose me for the duration of my stay (Bao) knew exactly what I needed. I came into the camp in a bad place, trying desperately to hold onto my love of muay Thai. He gave me exactly what I needed, which was 100% mental practice. I learned no fancy tricks, nothing new physically really, but the mental side, the art was brand new and the very thing I needed. He is a wise man and the trainers there were nothing short of lovely. It was an honour learning Bao's Wai Khru Ram Muay, on my last day he offered to teach it and I nearly cried in appreciation. The experience at Sinbi will stay with me now, for ever I am sure. 

And that's the soul in muay Thai. Despite the huge westernization a relatively modern and popular camp, the trainers and their training had soul. They spent time and cared. Each one of them, some more than others, made such an incredible impact.
 

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I had the exact opposite experience with Sinbi (I'm the Michelle Kevin referred to). I think Sylvie is dead on about the expectations and NOT paying in advance. I had already travelled and trained in a more relaxed manner on Koh Lanta with my fiancé for 2 weeks. My final trip to Sinbi was meant to be my intense training, as I had a fight scheduled 2 weeks after my return to Canada. The training there would in no way have prepped me. There was no sparring, clinching only sometimes, and the pad holders were all really disinterested. Sinbi himself was not there when I trained (out of the country) and I have heard from a few people that the atmosphere is very different when he is present, and that the trainers act very differently when he's around also. Maybe that's why my experience was so bad? And it wasn't just the fact that the fight prep wasn't there, to me it felt like a muay thai factory. I trained at 3 other gyms in Thailand and none of them were organized like Sinbi. It was very similar to what you would find in a North American (or Canadian at least) gym, with the structured class and drills. Again, not what I was looking for. When I trained with Sylvie in Pattaya I was pushed past the point of exhaustion every single day, and was able to work on specific skills I needed to improve. I trained, slept, trained, slept, trained. Never made it to the beach in Pattaya, I've heard they're nice! And even though half the people at the small gyms in Pattaya didn't speak English I had more interactions there than I did with any of the 50 people who were at Sinbi daily.  

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