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Review Kem Muay Thai Gym - a month training and living in the mountains in Khao Yai Tiang by Naadia

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I'm posting this review sent to me by Naadia:

In review - a month training and living at Kem Muay Thai Gym in the mountains in Khao Yai, Thailand There’s a sign as you enter the neighbourhood- it reads I Love Khao Yai Tiang. And I do, it’s impossible not to. With the weather being a little cooler than Bangkok and even the south, this mountain gym is isolated and wonderful. It’s the home of champion Kru Kem (sitsongpeenong). His little gym in a corner of paradise. His expertise is sharp and his time generous. Once you stop pinching yourself in disbelief you can really allow yourself to be loved and taken care of by Pee Kem and his family. And the man can love as well as he can fight; subtly, honestly and wholly. Sprawled out over a small valley the gym and accommodation share the land with Pee Kem’s family home and his large chicken collection. Outside his home is a small, silty fish pond which can be swam in. And often was by me. Huge spaces for dining, viewpoints, private balconies and hammocks allow for space and quiet reading spots. Pee Kem’s warm and bubbly wife, Pee Mo, who takes care of all your needs, made sure I celebrated my 40th birthday in style! They accompanied a student for a visa run, organised fights, excursions, massages, and a whole plethora of add ons which stave off any potential cabin fever. His children help out and often accompany students on excursions and if you’re really lucky, his youngest (7 years old) may even hold pads for you! It’s a real family affair. A short walk from the gym are a few village shops and a bike ride can take you to some cute mountain eateries. Otherwise it’s a true camp experience with two meals, two training sessions and accommodation in the package. And it’s one of the most reasonable around. The views are fantastic, the call to prayer from the mosque across the valley reverberates through the hills, crickets chirp, the chickens cackle, Nikethe camp dog howls back to the mosque, the jungle makes its noises yet peace is everywhere. Nine private en-suite rooms ensure the gym population stays intimate and family-like. Meal times are announced by the calling of your name (“Naaaaadia, dinner kaaaaa”) and food is adjusted to accommodate dietary and portion needs, and is delicious home style Thai food. For some context, I was training for my first amateur fight when I tore my ACL a week before I could get to Thailand. I was determined to work around my injury and keep my travel plans and the trainers at Kem Muay Thai were super thoughtful when understanding my parameters and also helped me in realising that I was more capable and powerful than I ever thought. In bigger gyms I had avoided class sessions as I was concerned I would exacerbate injury without someone always watching me. Pee Kem’s gym was small enough to have eyes on me at all times and I enjoyed working alongside my camp-mates. I’m a contract worker so gym-hop globally and the Muay Thai training here is excellent! Sessions include running pre session, weighted and unweighted shadow boxing, followed by bag and pad work. Emphasis is placed on technique with drills in focus, balance, posture and ending in hundreds of power knees, blocks, teeps etc Mornings tend to be a little lighter but sometimes they’d be some shockers in there! Conditioning segments with weight or ladder circuits also featured during the week. At the end of the session stretching would be done as a group, and Kru Kem and Kru Mee would have a chat and massage students, we were really well looked after. Both trainers ensured your headspace was right too, building self confidence, drilling mantras and “Kemisms”! “If Kem can do, you can do!” “You no scared, you Nak Muay”. I say that so often to myself now! I picked up some extra private sessions with Kru Mee, whose long career in training champs and handling injuries speaks for itself. He honed in on my clinching and really brought my technique to a new place, found sore points and guided me through the reintroduction of my switch and my right teep (I’d thought these were off Limits with my injury). I’m back in the U.K. now. Usually enamoured by the British summers it now irks me. The roses and lavender bloom but I yearn for frangipani, hibiscus and mountain flowers. My ears miss the chickens and whilst my ankles are bite-free for the first time in weeks I can’t help but miss the love on the mountain. I miss Pee Kem telling me “If you happy, Kem happy.” I spent a month with my now family, learning Muay Thai, training hard, but also being privy to life in an extended Thai family, being introduced to Isaan music and dancing, corrupting the camp (a story for another time lol) and making friends for life. And that, for sure, was worth every bite.

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What a beautiful, in depth review. I am so elated to read this as I will be training at Kems gym for three months this fall. You’ve really covered all the facets and areas that I wonder about when choosing a gym and I thank you so much! Cheers

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