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MTninja

Santai Muay Thai - highly underrated gym

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Hi guys

I just came back from Santai and want to do a review as it was a really good experience. I will use the same categories I used for my other review. 

 

Instruction - 5/5

I have been to a fair few thai gyms (mostly in Phuket) and Santai blasts them out of the water when it comes to instruction. Rounds are 5 minutes each and you will always get 5-8 rounds each day even when there are 35-40 students (though you might have to wait a bit longer). You are also deliberately placed with different coaches every session which is great as it allows you to experience different personalities and different fighting styles - ranging from stoic boxing champion/Muay Khao Boraphet to playful Muay Femur twins Lop and Phon. Every coach I've had at Santai watched and corrected my technique. They even stayed behind to hold extra pads for me when I had a question or am struggling to grasp something. The younger coaches will also spar and clinch with you - especially if you have a fight coming up. 

Re the Pinsinchai style - I really didn't notice a particular style per say but everyone's technique was very clean. Santai teaches traditional MT - so standing very tall, back hunched, big emphasis on kicks and knees etc. The coaches will also often talk about the point system when they explain to you why they are putting specific combos together. If you are looking for more of a dutch/MMA style of Muay Thai then this is probably not the gym for you. 

 

Class Format: 4/5

Training "officially" starts at 6am each day but the first part is just running. There are 3 running tracks to choose from - 4.5km, 7km and 10km. The 7km is the prettiest scenic wise but the 4.5km is the only one supervised by a coach. For the longer ones, especially if you aren't as fit, I highly recommend you get a local SIM first as you don't want to get left behind by the fighters and have no idea where you are halfway through. If you don't run, arriving at 6.45am is perfectly fine.

Except for the running, training is pretty guided. A coach who will lead you through shadowboxing and stretching then you just look at the whiteboard to see when you are meant to have pads held and who by. You do bag work while waiting your turn and, after all the pads are done, you usually do sparring or clinching or repetition work. All supervised. Then its warm down stretch and conditioning - where again, you are guided through the entire process. 

Everything is nice and easy - if not a little too routine. 

 

Atmosphere: playful but also serious 

This gym is the best of both worlds in terms of training environment. The coaches and other long term students will joke around with you and won't judge you too harshly but, at the same time, they are very serious about the art. Most people who come to Santai are there solely to train and, therefore, push themselves fairly hard. There are beginners of course but there is also a pretty high percentage of foreign fighters - ranging from people who are about to have their first fight right up to girls who hold multiple world titles. There are also two Thai fighters there who are high level as well as 3-4 foreign guys that do Muay Thai as a career. 

If you are good enough, getting a fight is easy - male or female. The whiteboard listing upcoming fights is often 75%+ full all the time. 

 

Facilities: 3/5 

This is where Santai struggles a bit as it just isn't as well put together as e.g. Khongsitta or Sinbi is. Although still functional, the equipment in the gym is clearly on the older side of things and the weights section is really small and needs to be updated and fleshed out asap. The gym isn't overly dirty but it isn't sanitised every day like western gyms are either. There are also cats everywhere.

As for accomodation...its ok I guess. The room has everything you see on the website but, except for Baan Nak Muay, none of the rooms are cleaned once you move in. One of my teammate also had bed bugs in his room. 

There is an onsite Fairfax store and it has everything you need. However, the Fairtex gear isn't that much cheaper than it is back home. 

 

Location: 3/5 

Santai is outside of Chiang Mai city. The gym can organise airport transfer so getting there isn't an issue but there really isn't much to do once you get there. You've got a bank (for currency exchange) and stores like 7/11 of course. There is also plenty of cheap, healthy thai food (and two or three western cafes) but there is no beach and no nightlife except for the Saturday night market (which is still only street food + clothes/misc. accessories). San kamphaeng is very much a residential area. 

One thing of note though is that there is a temple where you can get massages for 150 baht. Ask for the monk who used to be a Nak Muay - he is very good.

Santai doesn't offer any guided Chiang Mai tours. However, they do organise a 11-12km run every Saturday where you'll be running up to a very famous temple. Be warned though - the view is beautiful but you'll be running up a hill the entire way essentially.

 

Female friendly? Yes, very. Lisa who is a multi-time world champion is there right now. Lommanee also trains out of Santai. Both are sponsored by the gym and there are photos of female champions hanging in the gym wall. There are heaps of foreign girls who fight out of this gym and they get the same treatment and pad rounds as the guys. 

 

Final word: this isn't the prettiest gym but its got a lot of heart. 

 

Hopes this helps!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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