Living in Phuket, we’re all constantly surrounded by delicious food to eat, and the need to take on vast amounts of liquid i.e. beer. This is all well and good, providing we work it off later. Our medical correspondent has been researching the options.
My mind recently has been on my ever-expanding stomach, and fitness and sports in Phuket. But what is available as staying fit and healthy in Phuket can be a chore, as the availability of facilities is seen as limited, and the prevailing heat when exercising outdoors, restrictive to some. With a little planning and awareness, it’s possible to get the most out of life here without damaging your health in the process.
There are a number of places and groups on the island that are committed to helping people keep fit, as well as having a great time often with a few beers to polish off the exercise afterwards.
If doing exercise solo is your thing, lately there’s been a large increase, all over the island, of health and fitness gyms. Gym work is an excellent way of maintaining fitness, particularly for those who wish to exercise and work out in air-conditioned comfort, whilst watching TV. There are too many gyms to mention here in this article, so ask around in your area for what’s available. Most offer day, monthly or yearly membership and many have a Thai, resident or tourist pricing policy. Some include spa, sauna/steam baths, personal trainers and aerobics classes whilst some of the major hotel chains offer packages which include swimming pool, tennis and squash court access. Some of the housing estates around Phuket such as Land and House on Chao Fa Road and the Phuket Villa developments also allow outside members to join and use their facilities.
At Saphan Hin, where many facilities have seen better days, there are extensive ranges of facilities on offer including tennis, basketball and badminton courts, football pitches, a gym, as well as daily classes of tae kwon do. Membership is available; as are casual visits. It’s a challenge to find out what is open and when, and how much things cost, so I suggest you have a native speaker call or, better still, go with you to inspect facilities and discuss options. There are also some good jogging trails around the area.
For running, and you need to keep away from the traffic or off the beach, try Suan Luang Park which also has t’ai chi, or the Hash House Harriers (HHH) – dubbed ‘the drinking club with a running problem’. HHH organizes weekly runs and meets every Saturday at the Expat Hotel, Patong. See www.phuket-hhh.com.
For some beach exercise and those wanting to try beach volleyball, an informal group has played on Karon Beach just north of the circle, for several years. Drop in on a game on Friday afternoons at around 5pm. For rugby there’s the local club, Phuket Vagabonds, which organizes regular matches and tournaments. www.phuketvagabondsrfc.com.
Upping the excitement level, and for those looking for an adrenaline rush, kite surfing is available for all ages at Nai Yang Beach during low season, and Chalong Bay during the high season. See www.kitesurfingphuket.com for more information. There’s also cricket with regular matches played at the school near the entrance to Laguna each Sunday, and the occasional touring side visiting to play. Check www.phuketcricket.com for details.
Muay Thai is also popular and there are about four or five Thai boxing centres in Phuket, mostly in the Chalong Kata area and one near Phuket Zoo. They not only provide instruction in this art, which is rapidly increasing in popularity with clients from overseas, but also offer fitness programs.
Surprisingly, getting a game of soccer is easy, with the game being played all over Phuket on some good, and some not-so-good pitches. Mostly played by friendly Thais, the actual games can be competitive and most will welcome a foreigner to join in for a kick-around.
Aerobics, the exercise of choice for many Thai ladies, appears to change homes frequently, although you can usually get a good workout during the evenings at the main Tesco superstore car park and at Suan Luang Park.
There’s also golf, and with an increasing number of courses on the island, it can be expensive; much cheaper if you leave the buggy in the shed and walk the course. The Phuket Expat Golf Society has regular tournaments and can offer discounted green fees for residents. There are also regular tournaments, some serious, some more fun and Loch Palm has a discount yearly membership program for Phuket residents.
Taking part in the mini- or full triathlons is another option, and I see the interest in bike-riding expanding on the island.
Finally, there are the pubs which organize a range of sports more suited to lounge lizards and couch potatoes. Whilst darts and pool may not get you fit, it can take you away from watching the TV.
Peter Davison is the Manager International Services at Phuket International Hospital.
Tel: +66 (0)76 249400. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was written by HKT Homes on November 25, 2010