Training In Thailand – Bodybuilding in Pattaya Pt. 1

Gyms in Pattaya

Mention that you live in Pattaya and it conjures up all kinds of debaucherous stereotypes and imagery in people’s minds. Anything you want can be had for a price, which inevitably attracts a slew of shady characters, but also makes for a life of practically zero stress and 365 days of sunshine. Because of the overabundance of sun, sand, sea, sex and steroids, Pattaya is also a magnet to many bodybuilders from all over the world who come to train and live the life at a fraction of the cost back home. As a result, over time a multitude of gyms have sprung up (and disappeared) to cater for the demand to get swole. Here’s a review to some of my more regular haunts.

Tony’s Sports World – 3rd Road Pattaya.

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Any number of Tony’s Gyms can easily be found scattered around various locations in Pattaya and elsewhere in the country. The Third Road location however, is a favourite among hardcore lifters featuring a 2 level complex with a collection of Hammer Strength and Lifestyle machines, free weights, dumbbells (heaviest set is 135lb) and cables. There is one power rack and one squat rack. The second floor houses mainly Cybex and cardio treadmills.

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This is the main gym I train at. It can get crowded in the peak season with a range of tourist blow-ins from all corners of the world, but during the quieter months it’s very easy to access the equipment with only a staple of regular exapt long timers. There aren’t many women that train here – save for a few “sponsored” Thai females, so it’s great to be able to train in an environment devoid of pink dumbbell swinging, Crossfit wannabe’s balancing on bosu balls.

Membership costs range from a casual visit of 220 baht (just over $7USD) at the Third Road location, to 69 baht (just over $2USD) at one of the local gyms around town.  Each gym has its own unique equipment and layout. A year’s membership runs 12,000 baht ($400) but covers all gyms throughout Thailand. Every so often throughout the year, Tony’s offers lifetime memberships for $14,990 baht ($470USD)

If the long-time expats’ stories are to be believed, then the Tony’s chain is quickly becoming a neglected stepchild of poorly maintained equipment and facilities. I remember coming here in 2011 and marvelling at the range of Hammer Strength and other machines that were available, but with the recent explosion in popularity of gyms in Australia with a gym on every corner, the equipment seems slightly dated now.

If the equipment at Tony’s is poorly serviced than at the very least they can boast the cleanest floors and machines of anywhere I’ve ever trained. A team of cleaners can be found covering their personal 10×10 foot patch of gym real estate, cleaning the same square acreage again and again and again during their daily shift. I’m all for clean floors and hygiene, but when you’re trying to squat or deadlift and have a mop swirling around your feet it can get a bit annoying.

While the place does use fans, it is an absolute sauna to train in and you will be breathing hot fire your first few sessions. i easily drink a litre of gatorade and 1.5 litres of water per 60 minute session here and by the end my clothes are drenched.

The cleanest floors...anywhere.

  The only PR’s being hit here are for Thailand’s cleanest floors. 

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Polishing the equipment…not just a Thai euphemism for getting a blowjob….she was actually cleaning the machine while I did sets of calf raises.

Tony’s Gym – Soi 4 Pratumnak

Soi 4 Pratumnak

Only recently opened a few months ago this is more of an open air gym with chain link fences instead of solid walls to help with ventilation. It therefore doesn’t have the same “training in a furnace feeling” experienced at Tony’s on 3rd Road.

Although not as complete in its range of equipment I can get a decent workout here with the upside that it’s only 5 minutes walk from my apartment. It has a brand new Powertec Powerack, the dumbbells go up to 100lbs and it has some kind of funky, ancient Nautilus Time-Machine Multigym set up I’ve never seen before. The gym also boasts a badminton and pingpong table setup and a few nights a week offers pole dancing and yoga classes for members.

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Because it’s a short distance from Central Pattaya it doesn’t experience the hustle and bustle of crowds and much of the time I pretty much have the run of the place. I like how the staff turn the music off most of the time, so it’s a great place to experience a nice, peaceful workout. Only 2 minutes from the beach and post workout coconut refreshments.

Universe Gym – Sukhumvit Road

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Originally located on Beach Road and established by a former Mr Australia, Shane Stratton, the gym has migrated considerably inland and is now a fair motorbike ride from Central Pattaya. It’s only 90 baht ($3USD) for a one off visit, and a year’s membership is a bargain at 4000 baht ($125) Professional bodybuilder Dennis James was once a regular fixture at Universal and i can only imagine the freakish reaction his mammoth physique would have elicited walking the streets here.

The old Universe Gym on Beach Road

The old Universe Gym on Beach Road

Dennis James - Pattaya regular until he was arrested for ecstasy possession.

Dennis James – Pattaya regular until he was arrested for ecstasy possession.

This is truly an outstanding gym in every way. It reminded me of Gold’s Venice with the bright yellow colour of it’s equipment. It boasts a massive arrangement of machines for every bodypart and a separate room for a large assortment of dumbbells (largest set is 70kg (154lb). The music they played was cool and motivating and the staff were very friendly. In addition, they had functional AIRCONDITIONING!! Universe also stocks supplements and workout gear that are a sight cheaper than what you pay at the other stores closer to Central Pattaya.

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I wish I could make this gym my home, with the distance being the only deterrent. Can be a little tricky to find…but look for the large statue of the dumbbell swinging bodybuilder which has all but toppled over to guide you.

Pratumnak Park Outdoor Gym

Located on Pratumnak Hill next to the path leading to the Big Golden Buddah statue, this free outdoors gym is as rustic as it gets. A few benches, chin up, dip bars, improvised brick and concrete barbells and dumbbell sets are all that’s on offer, but people still flock here in the evening to use the Muay Thai gear and pump out some sets. It’s a functional setup for those not wanting to spend money at a commercial gym while still getting their pump on, but don’t come looking to set any PR’s with the limited stock of “weights”.

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Two minutes from my apartment, no membership fees, no surly Thai staff, and you can tan while you train!

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  4 comments for “Training In Thailand – Bodybuilding in Pattaya Pt. 1

  1. Ilya
    May 8, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I’d say Bear Gym Jomtien is now top notch for all Pattaya. Although, a lil far away from the center.

    Like

    • September 30, 2015 at 12:09 am

      I loved Bear Gym, but yes it was cost a lot by bike taxi to go there everyday. The aircon was a saviour.

      Like

  2. Binder Dundat
    May 9, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Universe gym: to find it, it is on the oceanward side of Sukhumvit boulevard behind a place (separate building up front)that, last I saw, did car wraps. The bodybuilder statue is facing South, and is on the North side of the South entrance of the U-shaped drive-around and parking lot.

    It even has a balance scale, so you know EXACTLY how much you ACTUALLY weigh, in the lobby.

    And it’s a great place to train. Yes, friendly staff. Juice/smoothie/water/milk bar up front, then gym upstairs. A standing and a seated calf machine,(!) unusual anywhere in the gym world, and fun and unique STEEL, not iron, machine-carved weight plates.

    Not the place to go to pick up broads. It’s the place to go to GET broad. A couple floor-standing fans can be moved around to fan you if the A/C doesn’t quite keep things at arctic levels.

    They also have fans mounted on the walls that you can adjust for speed and direction when you are near.

    Very good gym. Better than any I’ve encountered in the last six years elsewhere.

    Like

    • August 18, 2015 at 3:24 am

      Great review and yes, I really enjoyed my workouts at Universe Gym – A bit out of the way for someone who hates and fears riding the motorbikes, but much cheaper than Tony’s rip off factory.

      Like

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