Are YOU interested in training Muay Thai in Koh Samui, Thailand?
In this interview, we catch up with Markus, owner at Punch It Gym, one of the best Muay Thai Gyms in Thailand! We find out what makes the island so perfect for a Muay Thai Training, what type of people visit the gym, what’s the perfect amount of time to train to see and feel a difference, how to prepare for a Muay Thai holiday in Thailand and much more!
Koh Samui, Muay Thai Heaven!
Okay, so let’s start with the first and most important question – what makes Koh Samui such a great place for a Muay Thai Holiday?
I have visited many places in Thailand and for me, Koh Samui is the best! On an island with a diameter of 30km, you have almost everything you can see in Thailand, and it’s all easily reached within 30 minutes on a scooter. In the middle of the island there are beautiful palm woods that are almost untouched and all around the coast, there are fantastic beaches with perfect temperature year round for sunbathing and swimming (around 32 degrees).
As you can’t train Muay Thai every single minute of the day (you need time to relax too!), the variety of things to do on the island and the rich Thai culture means that you can have a really balanced and enriching experience while training!
When did you first visit Koh Samui and what drew you there?
A friend of mine had been to Samui doing Muay Thai Training before and he showed me around the island for the first time. I immediately became fascinated with the culture and the completely different mentality of the people compared with Western Europe. (I am originally from Switzerland.)
After a year, I made the same trip again with a friend from my martial arts club back home. It was during that trip that I realised I wanted to emigrate here and have a complete change of culture and life!
When did you first become interested in Muay Thai?
In 1998, I had to sign up for the compulsory army in Switzerland, my home country. For me it was clear that I wanted to join the elite troupe. To do that, I had to have some form of martial arts experience. So, I visited a boxing club for the first time and I was immediately fascinated. After one year of boxing, I was able to join the desired troupe in the army and after that I never stopped doing martial arts.
Why did Muay Thai become such an important part of your life?
Muay Thai inspired me right from the start because of the personal discipline that it requires. When you’re in the ring, it’s just you and the opponent and you have no back-up. You must trust that the training you have done up until this moment will see you through. It’s a great lesson for life in general and in this way I believe that Muay Thai Training makes you more capable to cope with challenges in your personal and work life.
Becoming a good Muay Thai Fighter takes a lot of self-discipline and ambition. The training never ends as there is always something new to learn. Through Muay Thai and my previous training in other martial arts, I’ve learned to never give up, no matter how hard it gets.
Even though you may not be the best, with martial arts, you come to learn that you can make the best out of what you have – and for me that’s a great motto for life!
When did you start Punch It Gym?
In 2015 I founded the brand Punch it Switzerland with the main goal to create and distribute top quality martial arts products. I wanted to take the brand further and reach the land where Muay Thai was born and so in 2017 I opened my own gym in Koh Samui, Thailand. This was a huge dream for me and would never have been possible without the support of my amazing girlfriend and family.
Today, my passion is introducing Muay Thai to people and seeing how it transforms their lives. When I read our reviews online and hear great feedback from our students, it feels amazing and I am so proud to say that in such a short period of time we have established ourselves as one of the best gyms in Thailand!
What type of people come to Punch It Gym?
At Punch It Gym, we have four different types of classes to suit students of all levels. So nobody has to be afraid and everyone is welcome here!
- Intermediate Class – In the morning we have a mixed class that is intended for experienced or somewhat ambitious beginners.
- Advanced Class – In the afternoon we have a class for fighters who have already been training Muay Thai for more than three months. This class is aimed at athletes who may get bored in the beginners’ classes.
- Beginners Class – In the evening we have a class that’s suitable for complete beginners; those who want to try out Muay Thai for the first time in their lives, or those who are interested in the sport more for fitness, rather than to hone any specific Muay Thai skills. In this class, fun is in the foreground and for this reason, it’s one of our most popular classes.
- Children’s Class – Then, we have another special class three times a week that’s just for kids.
Do you have to already be in shape before you start training at Punch It Gym?
It depends on your goals. If you are interested in losing weight, toning up and learning about Muay Thai with no real serious goal to becoming a fighter, then you can join with any fitness level. Of course, you will find it easier if you have done some sort of sport or exercise before.
For those who are interested in becoming a serious Muay Thai fighter, it is advisable to have a regular jogging routine before you start to train seriously. (We run about 5 km daily in the afternoon fighter class.)
How long is an ideal time to train at Punch It Gym?
Many students who come from Europe, the US or Australia sometimes underestimate the climate, as well as the time difference, which affects your ability to train. The first few days you usually need to accustom and you don’t have full energy. For this reason that we always recommend a stay of at least one week. One month is an ideal time to discover if you really like Muay Thai and decide it is something you want to pursue in the future!
What is a typical day of Muay Thai Training like at Punch It Gym?
To start the day, there is an optional 2km jogging session outside the gym (which is based in beautiful Lamai in the south of Koh Samui). This is a great warm up and you can also enjoy the beautiful Thai landscape in the early morning – we are right by the beach! After that, we start our official training at 8am and continue until 10am. After stretching, we usually do technical training, sparring and some fitness exercises.
The next training (from 4 to 6pm) is for the serious fighters. In this session, we closely follow the Thai tradition of what a Muay Thai training session should be and it consists of pad-work, sparring, clinching. This training starts with a run of 5km. (In the authentic Muay Thai tradition, it is actually 10km, though most foreigners find that it is too hot in Thailand to jog for more than 30 minutes and that’s okay!)
Then we have a 2-hour class for the beginners and all those who want to get to a better fitness level or learn the basic of Muay Thai. Here the emphasis is on fitness, though we usually do 30 minutes of technical training for the primary school of Muay Thai. Many people who begin their journey with Muay Thai in this class advance to the afternoon fighter class, or continue training back in their home countries.
Who are the trainers at Punch It Gym?
Normally we have 3-4 professional fighters from Thailand at the gym and many foreign fighters from Europe. We also have more experienced students who train with us throughout the year and help out with beginner classes. There is a real mix of levels and a family atmosphere where students find role models and above all, friends. It’s always nice to see how life-long friendships are formed at the gym. Many students do things together after the training. Sometimes we have a barbecue in the gym on Fridays after training.
Where is the best Muay Thai Stadium in Koh Samui to go watch a fight?
We have three stadiums in Koh Samui which all offers something a little different to the spectators. In the biggest stadium, Phetch Buncha, you will find some of the best fighters from all over Thailand in the ring.
However, in the other two stadiums, Chaweng Stadium and Samui International Stadium, there are also many interesting fights. In these two stadiums there is the possibility to organise a fight with one of our students (who doesn’t have have so much experience with professional Muay Thai) and a local Thai fighter. It’s always exciting to see how less experienced foreign fighters compete with the very experienced local fighters.
Who is the greatest Muay Thai fighter of all time? In your opinion.
There are so many great Muay Thai fighters in Thailand, many of whom are not so famous. However, for me, Buakaw Banchamek is one of the most impressive fighters alive today. Not just because he had a lot of success fighting internationally, but because of his training energy and discipline.
I once had the opportunity to train for a few weeks with him and for me it was very impressive how much energy he puts into his training sessions. I have never personally experienced this with any other martial artist before. This is the training style that I like very much and that we also try to follow at Punch It Gym. So if you are a serious fighter wanting to reach high levels and ready to put in 100% commitment, then there is a place for you here at our gym!
What else do you love about Koh Samui and why should people visit?
The island is home to some amazing restaurants with cheap local food and a variety of bars. Plus, if you want to party, there are a few places in Chaweng that are world famous for their amazing atmosphere! Most importantly, there are many activities, from diving to cooking classes to yoga that suit a variety of people. There is really something for everyone here in Koh Samui.
Most of all, the people who live on the island (locals and expats) are very friendly. This is one of the main reasons why so many people come back to Koh Samui again and again. You can feel at home here very quickly!