Chalong: Thailand Fitness Camp Paradise
On the Island of Phuket in Thailand is a very special place called Chalong – more of a neighbourhood than a city. This 1.5 kilometers of narrow street manages to pack in a neighbourhood with quite a unique culture! Imagine, if you will, a strip of commerce where the only business outnumbering the tattoo parlours is the massage parlours. Chalong may well be the protein capital of the world – beyond the obvious protein bars and shakes, you can also get protein water, protein pancakes, even protein ice cream! And it has some of the best fitness camps in Thailand!
The Thai denizens of Chalong may be outnumbered by the foreigners who flock to this unique part of the world en masse. (Imagine tons of shirtless bearded dudes with tats riding small mopeds up and down the street, and you’ve pretty much got Chalong.)
What brings them here? One word, pure and simple: fitness. I have documented my own personal training journey here, complete with video and embarrassing before/after pictures. Below, for those who are thinking about going, I discuss the various camps in Chalong, with a major focus on the one I chose to attend, Titan Fitness.
Fitness Camps in Thailand
Chalong is home to three major fitness camps in Thailand – hence, the health-focused ecosystem that has sprung up along this tiny strip. Each camp has its own unique culture and purpose:
Tiger, on the north side of the street, is dedicated to Muay Thai boxing. Pictures of its fighters are displayed on a billboard outside the camp, and Chalong residents are invited to fights (+ bbq) once every month. As best as I can tell, Tiger is very popular amongst Chinese tourists, who seem to train there in groups.
The second camp, just a few meters down the road to the south of Tiger, is Unit 27. Unit, as it’s known, is full of Very Beautiful Fit People. It’s where you should go to see and be seen – but do note, the training at Unit is intense! You don’t go there to get fit, you go there because you’re already fit and want to be fitter.
The last – but certainly not least – camp is Titan Fitness, where I just spent the last 7 weeks trying to get back in shape after 9 months backpacking the world. How to describe Titan? Let’s just say that my friend Jackie had googled ‘adult fat camp’, I had googled ‘bikini boot camp’, and we both ended up at Titan. Please understand, this is not to say that Titan is not full of gorgeous, fit people – oh, it is! It just also happens to have people who come with goals to return their bodies to their former glory (let’s generously say), as well as those people who just to enjoy what Thailand has to offer and need a way to burn off the calories that this might entail.
Titan in Detail
All of this makes Titan a really wonderful, inclusive place, full of people from just out of college to well into their 2nd careers. Most people come on their own, and so everyone is quite open to making new friends and being social. In terms of fitness, people are encouraged to participate in the numerous classes that are offered each day, each to their ability.
Classes are offered Monday through Saturday, and they range from extremely tough ones, like CrossFit and Calorie Burn obstacle courses, to more moderate classes like 360, which is a circuits class with options for modification.
I fell in with a group of women over 40 (we called ourselves the Ladies Who Lunge), and we united in our struggle to eat more protein than we ever have in our lives and avoid the temptations that surrounded us in the form of sticky mango rice, pad thai and Chang beer.
Once a week, a Buddha ‘run’* is offered, where Titans are bussed to the base of a mountain to climb up to a giant white Buddha sitting on the top of the hill, watching serenely as a group of hot sweaty humans snakes its way painstakingly up to pay their respects. Upon hearing that this is one of the best ways to burn fat, the Ladies and I organized a taxi to take us there multiple mornings a week – every little helps!
*Most people walk this ‘run’, trust me. The current record for making it up the hill is 22 minutes, but most mortal beings take more around 40-50 minutes to complete the climb.
The best part of Titan is definitely the Personal Trainers who have landed here from as far afar as Australia, UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. In addition to teaching the various classes, they also train individuals. I worked with Kristian Kjelsbak – Fittest Man in Thailand 2017! Star of 2Travel4Fitness! – to lose weight and rehabilitate my shoulder. We made a video of my progress over the seven weeks I was there – enjoy!
Life centers around the camp, with an outdoor gym, a restaurant, an indoor gym, and a hotel with a pool. When people aren’t training, they can often be found chilling by the hotel pool or organizing trips to various activities that Phuket has to offer: visiting gorgeous beaches, elephant sanctuaries, ziplining, night markets, touring Phuket Old Town, and of course, checking out the nightlife in Patong.
If you are thinking of coming to Titan, it’s good to know that you do not have to accept a package deal – you can find your own accommodation depending on your budget / how far you want to be from the camp, and you are spoilt for choice with food. I did not know this, so I got an all-inclusive package comprising of gym/class access, personal training, housing, and food. If I had it to do over again, I definitely would have gone ala carte.
Where to stay:
There are numerous hotels in Chalong (just get on booking.com and you’ll see) so I am just sharing information about those I have direct experience with that were close enough to Titan:
- Little Hill – this hotel is connected to the Titan complex and is the center of social activity. Everyone staying here is training at Titan, and you can’t beat the convenience of having classes on your doorstep – it takes away the excuse of not being bothered to make the commute!
The downside is that the accommodation is very basic, no frills. For example, they don’t even provide shampoo or soap, and you only get one towel. The rooms are small, and they tend to be dark because you need to keep the curtains closed for privacy.
My advice would be to stay at Little Hill for the first few days or week just to get oriented and make friends, and then you could transition to other accommodation later if you wanted to upgrade.
TOP TIP: Titan does NOT give refunds, so once you’ve paid your money, it is gone. Just be careful to choose your dates / length of time carefully. You can always extend, but you can’t shorten your visit.
- Cocoville – just a 10-minute walk up the street from Titan, Cocoville is nestled in the jungle. I’m actually listening to the sounds of cicadas humming away outside my hotel room as I type this. I moved here during the seventh week of my training once my pre-paid accommodation at Little Hill ran out.
The rooms are much nicer for not much more money, there are two pools, and a good restaurant connected to the complex. There’s even a co-working space with high speed wifi that digital nomads can use for 200 Baht per day.
- Anchan Villas – I’m including this because a friend of mine (a fellow Lady) stayed here. The rooms are actually villas with their own private courtyard, complete with a plunge pool. This friend very much enjoyed working on her tanlines in this setup, let’s just say. Of course this is pricey, but may be very worth it for those with similar tanline goals. The hotel is only a 5-minute walk from Titan.
Where to eat:
Just as with hotels, you will have tons of choice for where to eat in Chalong. Options range from vegan to Thai to sushi to Italian to Greek to general ‘healthy’. I’m including my personal favourites below:
- Health’s Kitchen – Attached to Titan, this is the main social hub. There are two menus – a ‘healthy’ menu and a ‘regular’ menu. You can also get shakes, coffees, etc.
- Pure Vegan Heaven – One word for you: falafel bowl. Just trust me on this. This place was popular with the most carnivorous of carnivores, just showing you how truly good the food is here!
- Ali’s BBQ – Get your meat on here! Grilled fresh and fast, the food at Ali’s is incredibly popular amongst the Protein-worshipping crowd. They also have great options for veggies like myself, with hummus, falafel, etc.
- ‘The Chicken Shack’ – It may not look like much, and we don’t even know if it has a proper name, so we just called it the ‘chicken shack’. But my friend Heather, who is a chef, swears that the woman who runs it is a ‘chicken genius’. She contemplated kidnapping her and bringing her back to the UK so she could learn her secrets. They also do fish here, but the chicken has people coming from far and wide.
- Mama’s – Another ‘social hub’ of Chalong, and just right around the corner from Titan, Mama’s is where you can go to get most everything: breakfast, Sunday brunch, coffee, snack, lunch, dinner – you name it! They have indoor and outdoor seating, so just choose a temperature. 😊
Where to cheat:
- Nommy’s –Nommy’s frozen yogurt is protein-packed, so you can feel that much better about the ‘cheat’, and they are always switching up the flavors. My favorite was Snickers – nomnomnom! (Let’s just say that I may have filled more than 2 stamp cards during my brief stay in Chalong.)
- Ali’s – Homemade ‘protein ice cream’ is available at Ali’s. They make it fresh before your eyes, and you can choose between dairy and non-dairy for your base. The banana-coconut milk ice cream I had here has to rank as some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
- The Shack – great food and shakes, though prices are a bit steep (for Chalong, that is!)
Where to get massaged:
- Subai Subai
- Health Herb House
- Little shack behind Titan