How to lose fat and gain muscle on holiday in Thailand – Thanyapura Phuket Health & Sports Resort

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
The Olympic training pool at Thanyapura Phuket Health & Sports resort

Thanyapura Phuket sports resort scared me big time when I first heard about it. All those photos of triathlon and marathon training, Olympic pools and running tracks filled with teams vying for Olympic medals terrified someone like me, whose favourite activities are yoga and reading books, preferably while lying down. I’d rather stand on my head under a coconut tree than swim twenty laps around an Olympic pool.

So why did I finally get myself over to Thanyapura after avoiding it for years? Though I was totally intimidated, I was still curious about the place. I had become run down and out of shape. I’d been stress eating and gained so much weight, I couldn’t fit into my skinny jeans and had to buy new fat jeans.  I wanted to get back to my slim old self and needed a kick in the butt and some serious, help.

When I heard that a friend was going to spend a month at Thanyapura to lose weight, this gave me the incentive to go there too, since I wouldn’t have had the motivation to go there on my own. So off I went to spend a week at Thanyapura to get fit and lose weight. (Woo hoo!)

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net

What’s so scary about Thanyapura? Actually it’s not scary if you’re really fit. The place is impressive. Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort is Asia’s first and only professional sports training resort that offers all sorts of sports training and wellness programs for both professional athletes and people who want an active holiday. But I was out of shape and didn’t think I could be one of those high-performance athlete people running around the track in the boiling sun like the photos on the website, especially in my exhausted, stressed-out state.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
Thanyapura Sports Hotel lobby

I arrived in the Thanyapura Sports Hotel to find children everywhere – in the hotel lobby, the hotel swimming pool, the Olympic training pools, and the restaurant. They were all wearing team uniforms, trainers and carrying sports gear, and chattering.

The children’s swim team at their morning training.

I found out that Thanyapura is connected to an international school, provides sports facilities for the school and offers international summer sports camp for kids. The summer sports camp was in full swing, with kids and their families from all around Asia. There was also a children’s swim team from China and the Chinese national swim team there for training. No doubt people with children are used to a schoolyard environment, but I’m not a parent and this was different from the adult-centric hip hideaways I normally went to, where hushed murmurs, ambient music and soft lighting were the norm.

Thanyapura’s friendly young marketing manager, Suparat, gave me the property tour. “Oh, this is not that many kids right now,” she said, while I nervously eyed the Indonesian children’s swim team who filled up the entire hotel lobby. She told me that Thanyapura is fully booked for three months of the year by a regional swim competition with three hundred kids from all different countries attending. “Um… how do you fit them all in the restaurant at meal times?” I asked. No problem. The meals are organized in shifts and includes outdoor seating on the enormous restaurant verandah.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
Maria Sharapova trained here at Thanyapura’s tennis facility before competing at a tournament in Singapore.

The facilities include the sports hotel, two Olympic training pools (one for adults and a smaller one for kids training), tennis courts, a running track, Muay Thai boxing ring, football field, an obstacle course, fitness studios, a medical center, a spa wellness center, and three dining outlets. There weren’t much shade around the sports center, so it was a long, hot walk in the bright sun to get from the hotel to the sports facilities.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
My comfortable room at Thanyapura Sports Hotel

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
My room was in the pool wing.

I was very comfortable in my spacious room at Thanyapura Sports Hotel. It seemed larger thanks to its unusually high ceilings and enormous French windows, had a private terrace opening onto a big private lawn in the back, and 9 channels of sports in different languages on TV.

Along with the sports training and summer camps, Thanyapura offers various wellness and fitness programs including detox, fitness, weight loss, anti-ageing, tennis camp, swim camp, and more . I had stated my fitness goals as “lose weight, get fit, and replace fat with muscle”, and was put on their weight loss program.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net

Upon arrival my first appointment was a wellness consultation with Nikki the American wellness director and Morgane the French nutritionist which consisted of an extensive interview about my eating and lifestyle routine. I was scanned on the bio impedance machine which measures body mass index. At the end of my 6-day stay I would be scanned again to compare the before and after results. I was given my personalized activity schedule of sports training, fitness classes and medical sessions, and a personal meal plan of mostly vegan cuisine with a bit of fish for protein.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
I had a tiring session in the Muay Thai training room and boxing ring.
Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
Various fitness classes are offered throughout the day.

My weight loss program covered a very wide range of activities and medical services. I had arrived in a state of exhaustion, and since the first two days of my stay fell on the weekend when most of the medical staff were off, my schedule had lots of free time at first. Aside from starting the day with yoga followed by abs classes (which meant two hours of nonstop exercise), I took the afternoons off to rest and catch up on sleep.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
Thanyapura spa and wellness center, where yoga and meditation classes are held.
Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
The spa lobby and the wellness center.

My program included a 90-mintue slimming massage, which is a far cry from a normal relaxing spa massage. The slimming treatment involved a lot of vigorous pummeling on the thighs with suction cups, and a special lotion to break down cellulite. This was my first cellulite massage (or any kind of slimming treatment) and I discovered that breaking down cellulite with suction cups was quite painful.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
The weight loss program includes a private meditation class with teacher Pierre.

On Monday my schedule was packed, mostly with medical appointments which were all part of my weight loss program. My package included a blood test, colonic, IV vitamin infusions, L-Carnitine injections to help burn fat, a chiropractor session, a doctor consultation to analyse the results of my blood test, a personal nutrition consultation, a private meditation class and a private session with a personal trainer.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
I started each day with a demanding yoga class every morning.

In between these appointments I was also going to the free daily yoga and abs class every morning, plus trying out Muay Thai, zumba, stretch and any other classes I could fit in from the various group fitness classes offered all day long. At the end of each day I relaxed my muscles in the calorie-burning FAR infra-red sauna in the locker room.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
All the medical appointments take place at the health center.

The medical consultation was a revelation. I met with Thai medical director Dr. Narinthorn, who asked me about my eating, sleeping, exercise, and lifestyle routine, and then explained the results of my blood test. I told him about the chronic stress I’d been under, the stress eating, weight gain, lack of energy, and overall total exhaustion.

He told me all these symptoms and my blood test results were very clear – I had adrenal fatigue which meant my adrenals were depleted due to constantly producing cortisol from chronic stress, and my hormones were all out of balance. Basically, my body wasn’t producing enough of the hormones and chemicals I needed. I was running on an empty gas tank and the gas wasn’t being refueled. Instead, it was just getting more and more depleted.

He showed me diagrams of how adrenal fatigue affects the body’s hormone production, and how my lack of sleep was depleting certain hormones which the body produces during sleep. Because I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t producing enough vital hormones. No wonder I was so exhausted. Doctor Narinthorn prescribed supplements for me, along with instructions to take another blood test in three months and then email him the results.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
My medical consultation was with medical director Dr. Narinthorn.

I was delighted that this weight loss program included all of these medical services. Of course I had access to these services in Bangkok, but getting around the city is such a hassle, I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to search for the right doctor, then drive for hours through the exhausting traffic to get to the hospital.  I loved how at Thanyapura, it was so convenient to have the medical care packaged so efficiently in one place, where the necessary appointments were made for me, and all I had to do was walk a few minutes from my room to the medical center.

This lovely room is where guests get plugged into their IV vitamin infusions, sit back and relax.

Other great medical features of the weight loss program were the “recovery formula” IV vitamin infusions, and L-Carnitine fat burning injections. My program included two recovery formula vitamin IV infusions which pumped the body full of nutrients. This took place in a pleasant room furnished with puffy armchairs and apparently this was a popular treatment as the room could fit eight people at a time.

This was the first time I’d heard of L-Carnitine and I was amazed that there existed an injection that melted your fat. How fabulous! I’m a firm believer of holistic therapy, all things herbal, and alternative medicine, but I was loving all these medical services. It was so effective and so professional.

The medical center also includes laser aesthetic treatments that are normally offered in a dermatology clinic, such as Botox, facial dermabrasion, laser dermatology, and cool sculpting, an effective but very pricey laser treatment that kills fat cells and reshapes the body.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
Outdoor seating at the deli overlooks the pool.

I was impressed by my personal training session with coach Stefan. My friend Melanie and her husband Chris had arrived two weeks before I did, and had been training with Stefan, who they thought was absolutely amazing. They gushed about his knowledge of every muscle in the body and how he trains by looking at your body, sees what your problems are, and then tailors the training to target the parts where you need fixing. The most impressive thing about Stefan was that he was in a wheelchair and trained both fitness and aqua fit classes from his wheelchair. So I booked my private training session with him and then I started gushing about him too.

Coach Stefan shows how to properly handle a ball in the gym.

Stefan was incredibly fit, and looked great for someone who’s been in a wheelchair for twenty years. He also radiated positive energy and was always smiling and relaxed. Melanie said that whenever she felt grumpy and unmotivated, Stefan could always cheer her up with his good energy and cheerful attitude.

Stefan looked at me while I stood still in front of him.  He said my neck bones were out of alignment and I was compensating for the pain on one side by tensing one shoulder higher on the opposite side. He told me to look in the mirror but I couldn’t see any of it. It looked normal to me. He could see that? I was amazed.  He said it was only a centimeter off balance, but he could see this simply by looking the way I stood. I stared and stared, but still couldn’t see what he saw. “Don’t worry,” he said, “even if you can’t see it, I can see it. I know it’s there. I will fix it.”

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
Coach Stefan teaches personal training, aqua fit and core classes.

He put me through a series of test exercises to see how my body functioned, and then a series of training exercises to strengthen the areas where I was weak. He asked if I was seeing the chiropractor during my stay. I was, since it was included in my program, and he told me to tell the Dr. Thomas the chiropractor “number 1 on the left side and number 2 and 3 on the right side of my neck”. I didn’t know what that meant, but Stefan said, “Don’t worry, the chiropractor will know what this means.” All too soon, our personal training session was over and since it was my last day, I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to have another session with him.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
A lone swimmer finishes his training at the end of the day.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net

Chiropractor Dr. Thomas was a gentle American who I found easy to chat with about travel and meditation while he worked on my shoulder and neck, eliciting some frightening loud cracking sounds. He finished the session by giving me a form of energy healing called Healing Touch, which was founded by an American nurse and is practiced mostly by nurses in US hospitals. Healing Touch is similar to Reiki. He started on my feet and immediately I felt a strong heat around my ankles which lasted even when he moved his hands away. I’d gotten plenty of Reiki healing before, so this wasn’t new to me though I was surprised at how strong the heat was and how long the warmth lasted even after he moved his hands away. It was very relaxing.

Vegan lunch of soup and salad for weight loss.
A tasty vegan lunch of miso soup and kale apple salad.

The restaurant served normal buffet meals for the regular guests, but weight loss program guests like me and Melanie were served a personalized low-fat meal plan. Lunches were usually a tasty salad and light soup, but breakfast and dinner were a different story.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
Breakfast of fruit, raw nuts and green tea was plain but filling.

Breakfast was simple, such as pieces of fruit and raw nuts. Dinner was usually an austere affair consisting of the most basic items – a small piece of fish or plain tofu, plain steamed vegetables, and plain black rice or dry quinoa, with no seasoning, sauce, dressing, or flavour. It was difficult to eat such plain meals. After a few of these bland dinners, I craved some flavour and bought a giant muffin in the deli and ate it in my room. I felt guilty and texted Melanie to tell her I’d eaten a muffin.

“Don’t worry. I’ve eaten every cake and muffin and cookie in the deli already” she texted back. “I can tell you which the good ones are.”

Melanie had found the dinners too hard, so sometimes she skipped dinner and bought cake in the deli and ate it in her room. Whenever she did this, her husband got angry at her. Then she would threaten to divorce him. She still managed to lose a lot of weight, despite eating every type of cake in the deli.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net
The deli offered regular and gluten free and raw vegan cakes, desserts and muffins.

Thanyapura isn’t a typical resort in the usual sense. It’s really a giant sports club with a hotel attached. The sports facilities, medical services and staff are excellent.  I was pretty sure I was having a different experience from the summer camp families and sports teams though, who were having very social group bonding experiences while I ate my meals and did my activities alone in solitary silence.   I didn’t know who else was doing the same program that I was. I never talked to another guest while I was there aside from my friend Melanie and her husband who I only saw at dinner time.  I was glad they were there.

Still, I enjoyed the quiet “me time” relaxing alone in my comfortable room away from my demanding home life. I found the anonymity liberating; since nobody knew me or looked at me, I felt free to go around completely without any make up (I didn’t even bother with moisturizier or lip gloss).  I wore the same khaki shorts and comfy baggy T shirt to dinner every night and didn’t know or care what I looked like. When I felt social, I enjoyed conversations with the various international teachers, trainers and nurses who worked there. I was impressed by all the staff who were friendly, helpful, efficient, and professional.  All the trainers were in optimum shape and had super fit, beautifully sculpted bodies.

At the end of the week , my final results were surprising. I had gained one kilo! However the bio impedance scan showed that I’d actually lost fat and gained muscle (which weighs more than fat). I was a bit slimmer and felt much better. I even missed my daily Thanyapura exercise  routine (morning yoga with Pascha and abs class with Jay) when I left there.

Thanyapura Phuket health sports resort Thailand, best health fitness weight loss Thailand Asia, www.BarefootLuxe.net

My first and last activities every day were walking past the Olympic pool between the hotel and the restaurant. It was my favourite activity every morning and evening. I loved watching the swimmers doing laps in the glittering morning sun or the shimmering night lights. I admired the athletes’ stamina and dedication. It was beautiful and inspiring.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Thanyapura and I was impressed by how well the weight-loss program integrated sports training, medical services, spa treatments and food in a science-based approach to healthy weight loss. Thanyapura is a place that delivers real results.

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Have you been to a sports resort before? Where and how was your experience?

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