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There are so many ways to indulge on Koh Tao — delicious restaurants and a party scene that tempts me out more nights than not. Yet lately when I’m there I feel physically better than ever, thanks to an endless array of ways to stay fit and active. For a small island, Koh Tao has a truly impressive number of offerings for those looking to get back in shape or stay there. It’s even become somewhat of a destination for those putting together their own mini health retreats.

When I arrived back for a recent eight week stint on the island, I was feeling sluggish after two months of carb-overload and exercise fasting in Europe. But I didn’t panic — I knew my time on the island would be well spent bopping between various workouts. And indeed it was. With an apartment well-placed between my favorite gym, muay thai training center, and yoga studio, I was all set. Though I worked out more than every other day I was on the island, I never once got bored. I’ve written before about how to stay fit on Koh Tao, changes come quickly on this little island and so it’s high time for an update. Here’s how I stayed sweaty this time.

Muay Thai Koh Tao

Island Muay Thai

I think I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Muay Thai because it was one of the first work outs I really truly whole-heartedly loved, and it kind of introduced me to the idea that working out didn’t have to be just slaving away on a treadmill. The boxing-like sport uses the entire body and a training session will incorporate a cardio warm up, a one-on-one session of punches, kicks, elbow and knee strikes, and an ab workout and cool down. It’s so high paced that time totally escapes me while I’m there — I can’t believe how intense a workout I can get in just forty five minutes!

Not only is Muay Thai a great cardio workout, but also a fun way to immerse yourself in Thai culture. After all, it’s the national sport! And unlike many other fitness classes on the island, it is led by locals rather than Westerners. The Muay Thai scene on Koh Tao has exploded recently and there are now several full time training centers on the island.

In future trips I plan to check out some of the new Muay Thai gym on the island for research purposes, but I’ll always love Island Muay Thai. No matter how long I’m away, the trainers still greet me by name, and I love seeing years-old photos of myself in the old group training photos up on the wall. I bought a twelve class package when I arrived back on the island, which was a little ambitious considering everything I was trying to fit in, and I only ended up using ten. But you simply can’t find a better deal for one-on-one fitness — nor a better excuse to indulge in a massage later.

Training lasts for about an hour from either the 8am-10am session or the 4pm – 7pm. One session is 300 baht, four sessions per week is 1000 baht, seven sessions per week is 1,600 baht, twelve sessions per month is 2,500 baht, sixteen sessions per month is 3,600 baht, and 20 sessions per month is 4,500 baht. Custom packages can be arranged.

/ Haad Sairee, Road to Hin Wong Bay / Tel. 086 271 2212

Muay Thai Koh Tao

Muay Thai Koh Tao

Muay Thai Koh Tao

Fitter World & Koh Tao Gym and Fitness

As soon as I got back to the island I bee-lined to Koh Tao Gym and Fitness to pick up a small package of passes for days when I just needed to work out in air conditioning. Koh Tao is so hilly and hot I can’t stand to run outside there, so I do love hitting this gym for an ocassional dose of treadmill in the cardio room upstairs and a round of weight work on the machines downstairs. It’s a true Western style gym experience complete with a smiling gym attendant handing you towels and water as you walk in and a full range of supplements and protein shakes available.

Open Monday through Friday from 7:30am — 10pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 8am — 9pm. A one day pass is 200 baht, a five time pass is 800 baht, one week is 1000 baht, one month is 2,500 baht, three months is 6000 baht. Longer membership and monthly activations and payment plans are available.

/ Haad Sairee, Road to Hin Wong Bay / Tel. 082 801 4014

Koh Tao Gym and Fitness

Gym and Fitness also hosts a rotating cast of personal trainers, one of whom I met on that first workout back in the gym. Ina and her partner Adam run New Horizon Escapes, which on Koh Tao involved personal training services as well as a full calendar of fun weekly classes from kickboxing to high intensity interval training to beach yoga. I started taking Ina’s classes and loved her no-nonsence workouts paired with her sweet and bubbly personality.

Fitter World Koh TaoPhoto courtesy of Ina at

Fitter World Koh TaoPhoto courtesy of Ina at

Koh Tao Beach YogaPhoto courtesy of Ina at

Though Ina and Adam have recently moved on to Australia, I still follow their and am considering signing up for their Skype training services. Koh Tao misses them already!

Fitter World Koh TaoPhoto courtesy of Ina at

Grounded Yoga

When I first got to Koh Tao in 2009 the only studio I was aware of was Shambala. While the sala is stunning, the two hour classes were just way too long for this hyper-scattered mind. Lucky for me there are many more places to practice now. My most recent digs were right around the corner from Grounded, my favorite studio on the island. Grounded has both permanent and temporary instructors (Janine is my favorite!), which leads to a great mix of styles and offerings. Meditiation, acro yoga, Spanish-language classes and kids yoga are all options I’ve seen on the calender in addition to the standard yoga styles.

There are also daily classes at Ocean Sound Yoga in Chalok, at New Heaven in Chalok and at Baan Talay Resort in Aow Leuk — I’m hoping to give each a try when I return to the island.

One class is 250 baht, five class passes are 1,100 baht and ten class passes are 2,000 baht. Passes can be shared. Classes generally run 1.5 hours and weekly schedules can be found on Facebook.

/ Haad Sairee, Road to Hin Wong Bay / Tel. 088 503 7055

Beach Yoga Koh Tao

Pole Fitness

Pole dancing classes might be all the rage in New York and Las Vegas, but I can confidently say I didn’t expect to find one on a tiny backpacker island in the Gulf of Thailand. While I was expecting my abs to be sore more from laughing than from exertion, I was shocked by what a good workout the class was. The instructor, a dance and pole fitness teacher back in Finland, absolutely amazed us with her demonstrations before leading us through a few basic moves. It’s harder than it looks — holding yourself up requires an insane amount of core strength!

Though the class I took was arranged through Fitter World, the instructor Jenni is a long term expat on the island and does offer classes sporadically. Ask around at the King’s Cabaret, where classes are held, for more details.

Pole Dancing Fitness Koh Tao

Pole Dancing Fitness Koh Tao

Pole Dancing Fitness Koh TaoCheck out that sweat! Photos courtesy of Ina at

Pole Dancing Fitness Koh TaoPhoto courtesy of Ina at

Stand Up Paddling

Regular readers of this blog know that Stand Up Paddling is one of my ultimate obsessions, and I couldn’t be happier that my friends at SUP Koh Tao brought it to my favorite island. (I mean, I could be a little happier… had I started this business myself, which I briefly considered doing at one point in time. But hey, if it couldn’t be me, I can’t think of a better group to do it!) Like hiking and trapezing, stand up paddling is one of those sneaky Koh Tao workouts where you’re having so much fun you don’t even have to think about the calories you’re burning. Whether it was a hardcore race or a silly paddle out at sunset, heading down to the beach for a SUP session always felt like a reward — and it was a regular part of my routine back on the island.

Meihoukai in Wanderland reader special: Mention my blog name and receive the locals rate of 20% off! Board rentals cost 250 baht an hour, 750 baht for four hours, or 1,500 baht for a day. Occasionally, paddle safaris to Koh Nang Yuan are arranged.

/ Locations: Maya Beach Club, Bar Next 2, Koh Tao Divers / Tel. 084 443 9930

 

SUP Koh Tao

SUP Koh Tao

SUP Koh Tao

SUP Koh Tao

Eating Well

You know what they say… you can’t sweat away an unhealthy diet (though I try, I really do.) While I’m certainly not giving up my pizza nights or ice cream snarf sessions anytime soon, the majority of the time I do attempt to eat relatively clean, which I find pretty easy on Koh Tao thanks to an abundance of delicious salads and protein-filled Thai dishes. However, there are also now a few fabulous, fully health-centric options on Koh Tao where everything on the menu is a good choice.

One such option is Fitness Cafe, my go-to spot for wraps, salads, healthy breakfast options and yummy smoothies. Currently Fitness Cafe does not deliver but you can call ahead for pickup. Bonus — they use eco-friendly containers to package their food.

/ Behind Gym and Fitness, Haad Sairee, Road to Hin Wong Bay  / Open 8:30am – 6:30pm / Tel. 092 338 3273

Fitness Cafe Koh Tao

Another popular spot on the island is Living Juices, complete with a cute outdoor seating area. Living Juices does a lot more than just liquids, though — they also offer health-centric snacks like fruit salads, homemade protein bars, and fresh-from-the-oven Quinoa and chia bread with homemade hummus and beetroot pâté. Living Juices does detox packages complete with home delivery, something I’m looking forward to treating myself to once I’m back on island.

/ Next to Banyan Bar, Haad Sairee / Open 7:30am – 4:00pm / Tel. 090 916 8967

Living Juices Koh TaoPhoto courtesy of Living Juices

Living Juices Koh TaoPhoto courtesy of Living Juices

Living Juices Koh TaoPhoto courtesy of Living Juices

Believe it or not, this isn’t even a comprehensive list of all the ways to stay fit on Koh Tao! When I return to the island in the fall I’m looking forward to checking out the high intensity “Gladiator Workouts” at Monsoon Gym as well as finally giving Crossfit a real go at , where they even offer a restorative yoga class each evening.

What’s your favorite way to get back in shape after an era of indulgence?

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52 Comments...
  • Shaun's Cracked Compass
    January 6 2015

    Excellent summary! But isn’t there diving there too? 😉

    Not sure how well pole dancing would go for me but the Muay Thai classes sound perfect. Decent price too. Such a small island offers so much. Looking forward to hitting Koh Tao soon!
    Shaun’s Cracked Compass recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 6 2015

      Ha, I don’t know if I’d consider diving a workout… not unless you’re carrying tanks 🙂

      • Chris
        January 6 2015

        Depends…

        The more dives we’ve done, the easier it keeps getting, but initially I was spent after a few dives! 😉
        Chris recently posted..

  • Claire
    January 6 2015

    These all look like great ways to stay fit! Yoga is my favourite way to get back into shape but I would definitely give pole dancing and Muay Thai a try too.

    • Meihoukai
      January 6 2015

      For me the key is always shaking it up — love rotating between all these fun options! Keeps me entertained and not feeling like it’s a chore.

  • Emily
    January 6 2015

    I need to give Stand up paddling and Muay Thai a chance! Looks like fun (and is there a better locale to do all that goodness than Koh Tao?! 😉 )
    Emily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      No! Koh Tao is truly the perfect place to SUP. Great weather, a flat calm bay, and beautiful views!

  • becky hutner
    January 6 2015

    this is great, alex! i think one area that’s not covered enough in guidebooks & blogs is how to stay fit in a given destination. i often spend a lot of time googling around for a local pool or a bootcamp & give up.

    ps — i think europe is the worst for diet & exercise. rare is the day when i don’t drink, carbs around the clock & it’s often too cold/rainy for a bike ride or run! and yet i love it so…

    pps — i heart SUP.

    ppps — and eco take-out packaging.

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      Ugh, I agree about Europe. So many carbs, so much wine. And the weather and/or environments are so often just not suited to a run or outdoor workout. I felt like crab by the time I left!

  • Katie
    January 6 2015

    I had no idea there were so many options on Koh Tao! I’d love to try stand up paddle boarding, although my lack of coordination might be an issue. Yoga is my old stand by though! 😉
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      If you can do yoga, you can SUP! My favorite is actually to do them together, though that hasn’t kicked off of Koh Tao just yet 🙂

  • Miquel
    January 6 2015

    This is awesome! I may be headed to Koh Tao next week for a few days and I would love to turn it into a mini health retreat!
    Miquel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      It’s a great place for it Miquel… just make sure you don’t stay too close to the beach or the party noises might keep you from making it to that morning yoga 😛

  • Justine
    January 6 2015

    Muay Thai looks like it would be so much fun. I would love to do that next time I’m in Thailand. I think that’s a totally brilliant idea for a workout!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      It is SO FUN! It’s catching on in popularity even outside Thailand and I’ve seen Muay Thai gyms springing up all over New York. Still, I think I prefer to practice in the jungle rather than a high rise gym 🙂

  • Sarah
    January 6 2015

    thanks for the summary! I’ll definitely try Grounded Yoga and Muay Thai when I’m in Koh Tao. Not so sure about the pole daning (but love that it seems to take place in a bar!)
    Sarah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      Ha, it takes place in The Queen’s Cabaret, the island’s resident lady boy show!

  • Julia Nix
    January 7 2015

    Gutsy Meihoukai, she will kick your ass. LOL 🙂 Do you have any plan to visit Koh Phi Phi? Would love to see a blog on it from you.

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      No plans just yet, but I’m sure I’ll get there someday!

      • Julia Nix
        January 10 2015

        Basically an impromptu plan and couldn’t resist a much needed getaway. Leaving for Thailand tonight and making Koh Tao the destination.
        Shall try the Italian eatery you went to. 🙂

  • Francesca
    January 7 2015

    Damn you Meihoukai!! Every time I’ve convinced myself not to move to Koh Tao at the end of the year you post a blog and make life there look amazing.

    I’m going to stop reading soon if you’re not careful… 😛
    Francesca recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      I can’t lie, life there is pretty amazing… but I still hope you don’t stop reading anytime soon 🙂

  • Janice Stringer
    January 7 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,
    Fantastic Post!
    I love Koh Tao and whenever I am there I drop weight, which I think is due to the increase of drinking water, the mobility that getting out into the blue everyday gives me and the thai food – not the fried kind, which is fresh and refreshing. Coconut water for me is a favourite as it is fully of electrolytes so rehydrates – much needed after a dive. The pole dancing is one exercise I would like to try – it looks such a great workout, Yoga is good fun too. I’ll try anything once!
    Your photos are lovely as well.
    🙂
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      Thanks Janice! The island is a gorgeous backdrop. If I’m not careful I can put on weight on Koh Tao thanks to all the nights out and my penchant for sugary mojitos and such, but luckily I am pretty motivated to get out and move during the day!

  • Semi
    January 7 2015

    Great inspiration! We definitely need some after six months of constant travelling, lots of booze, and zero exercise. We’re heading back to Thailand this weekend… have you ever spent some time in the non-beachy areas of the country and do you have any personal recommendations for fitness boosters there?

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      I haven’t spent too much time based anywhere off the island, but I have been meaning to head to Pai for an extended period at some point. They have an amazing Muay Thai gym I love (I believe it’s called Bee’s) and tons of yoga options. There’s even a circus school though having never tried it I can’t say how much fitness is involved. Pai’s also a beautiful and scenic place to run outside!

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    January 7 2015

    wow so many unique options! At first I was thinking “wish we had that in Goa” but you know I bet we do and I just don’t search it out. Would be an interesting thing to look into! I get bored running/ gym stuff… I’ve been here over 2 years now and have probably jogged 10x 🙁 because it’s so boring! You’ve inspired me to get my ass into gear
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      Let me know what you find Rachel! You should push yourself to look and try “for research.” 🙂 I bet your readers would love it!

  • The Guy
    January 7 2015

    Happy New Year to Meihoukai.

    This is a great round up of some fabulous options on the island. I remember you blogging about a few of these activities particularly the Muay Thai which I think I’d like to try one day.

    I often hear people say how good pole dancing is for fitness. Your experience clearly endorses that.

    These also look like a lot more fun than the fitness DVDs and Insanity I do when staying in hotels for business trips.
    The Guy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      I still have yet to try Insanity despite the billion endorsements I’ve heard of it. I really need to check it out one of these days!

  • Travel St Croix
    January 7 2015

    I HAVE to get to this part of the world. I mean…the Caribbean isn’t bad either….but man….

    Keep it up!

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      Nope, the Caribbean isn’t so bad 🙂 But Southeast Asia does have my heart!

  • Marni
    January 7 2015

    Nowhere in Southeast Asia was ever really on my bucket list, but the more you visit and write about it, the more it piques my interest. It seems amazing there! Great fitness inspiration in this post.

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      I love to hear that Marni! There’s something for everyone in SEA.

  • Kyla
    January 7 2015

    I absolutely loved this post! I wish I would’ve tried out a couple gyms while on Koh Tao. Next time, I’ll be sure to give Muay Thai a go.
    Kyla recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      You can find Muay Thai almost anywhere in Thailand, and it’s such a fun workout with great results… I recommend it to anyone!

  • Anna @ shenANNAgans
    January 8 2015

    Pole dancing… gah, thats dangerous sport. Never had so many bruises on my person, than when I did pole. I love Bikram yoga, only takes a couple of weeks and you start seeing your body tone right up. Back to reality for me as of Monday. 🙂
    Anna @ shenANNAgans recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      I bruise like a peach, so I had my own fair share as well! I wonder how the “pros” deal with that!

  • Dulce Taylor
    January 8 2015

    Great article! Who knew there were so many options?!
    Dulce Taylor recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 9 2015

      Koh Tao is a surprisingly health-conscious little island!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    January 10 2015

    I would like to have Ina’s abs, please. 😉
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 10 2015

      Ummmm, me too. Where can we order those?

  • Joella in Beijing
    January 11 2015

    This post has really got me wanting to go to Koh Tao for a little self styled fitness retreat! I tried paddle boarding on Gili Air and loved it!!
    Joella in Beijing recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 11 2015

      The Gilis are another great place to paddle board! Calm and scenic. It’s the best workout/tanning routine ever!

  • Ian
    January 11 2015

    For such a small island, there sure are a lot of options … I’ll have to try of these out on my next trip!
    Ian recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 12 2015

      It’s a great spot to get fit! I love using as my little retreat to get back on track.

  • Diana Edelman
    January 27 2015

    I’ve always wanted to do muay thai. Also, SUP is HARD. But, would love to do it again!! Where’s the body pump class?
    Diana Edelman recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 28 2015

      Ha, that was in Chiang Mai, not Koh Tao 🙂 But it totally was a highlight! Love me some pump.

  • Elyse
    January 28 2015

    Thanks for the great info! Definitely going to work muay thai sessions into my travel plans – looks like so much fun!
    I’ll be leaving the US in about a month to spend three months in Thailand. Your blog has been my go-to for information, must-see places, and just generally getting excited for my trip – thank you so much for sharing your life and adventures 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      January 28 2015

      You are so welcome Elyse! And thank you for this very sweet comment. Three months in Thailand sounds divine!

  • Damon and Jo
    January 30 2015

    You look like the next Koh Tao champion if we’re judging off those photos! 😀

    Surfing always takes the cake (hehe) for us. Such an arm workout. Beautiful views. Not to mention the beautiful people.
    Damon and Jo recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 2 2015

      Paddling out is a SERIOUS arm workout! I just went the other day here in Nicaragua. I love it! Wish I got into the surf more often.