The best gym in Chiang Mai is referred to as Santo Noi in Phromthep Cape. It is located just a few kilometers away from downtown Chiang Mai. The name Santo Noi comes from two Sanskrit words, which means serene or tranquil.
Santo Noi was started by Ko Suet Win, who trained with some of the world’s top stars in the sport of Muay Thai. Santo Noi received its certification in 1993. This gym in Chiang Mai focuses on cardio-vascular endurance, power, explosiveness, and high-performance exercises. Santo Noi aims to improve strength, endurance, and cardio-respiratory performance for competitive athletes. Most of its trainers are from the famous Pinsinchai camp in Bangkok that was once home to several prominent Muay Thai champions and legends.
Unlike other gyms, Santo Noi follows a training philosophy that is more along the lines of “keep it simple, stupid.” This is evident in the layout of the gym. Most people training at this gym prefer to do cardiovascular and weight training workouts in separate rooms. Unlike other gyms, where trainers are often thrown together, they are separated into groups by skill and assigned a trainer that has been trained by different members of the gym.
There is no sign of any trainers at this modern gym handing out free reigns to get people to perform sexual favors in the back yard (a common scenario in other Thai gyms). This may be because members of the Chiang Mai Chiang Rai Health Club are mostly male. However, one does get the sense that members indulge in their fitness regimes in private, unlike the old school gyms where girls and women would be forced to share the showers and locker rooms. In fact, a former member recalls fondly of the time he spent in the gym, saying that it was the only place where he could relax and forget about the troubles of his day.
Another advantage of choosing to train in Chiang Mai is the relatively inexpensive fees that are paid for access. Like many other cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai offers competitive rates for foreign trainers. This is a particularly attractive option for Muay Thai fighters who want to build an extensive gym and whose families can’t afford to send them to an expensive western training facility. One benefit of this that not many martial arts enthusiasts know is that Thai fighters are allowed to train in any country that allows them to do so without restrictions. Unlike other sports, this is not a rule that is frequently broken. This means that a fighter can travel to Russia or China to train, while at the same time be able to use their full resources in the country of their choice.
For beginners, some of the best gyms in Chiang Mai offer a wide range of basic classes like the traditional sit-up and kick-boxing style, as well as a range of other exercises such as yoga and Pilates. There are even a few Thai boxing gyms in Chiang Mai that include some sparring sessions as well as group classes. While these groups may not have sparring sessions, they do offer a few mock contests between a small collection of fighters, all with similar body types and MMA backgrounds. Some of these groups are run by female trainers who work with their male counterparts to refine their skills. These groups are generally very good at conditioning the fighters and helping them build a reputation as a more all-round fighter.