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Overseas fighting bootcamps are gaining popularity among Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) enthusiasts. These training holidays are attractive because they let you take a break from the rat race and offer a chance to focus on your fitness goals under experienced hands, says Ole Laursen, Muay Thai world champion. The ONE Fighting Championship fighter, who runs a fitness camp at his gym in North East Thailand, reveals more about what goes on at one of these training holidays.
Get Away From The Rat Race
"A lot of people, particularly ones who have got 9-to-5 jobs, are coming to places like Thailand on training holidays. It's a chance to spend a couple of weeks in the sunshine, get away from city life and use Muay Thai or MMA to help you meet some of your fitness goals," explains Ole.
"My gym, Legacy Muay Thai, is located in Ubon Ratchatani in North East Thailand (with another one in Boracay, Philippines due to open). It's perfect for people who are serious about training because it's in the Thai countryside and there are no distractions, although there're plenty of discos and bars in Ubon where people can go out at weekends," according to the 34-year-old.
"It’s amazing how much people can change in the space of a couple of weeks. Sometimes people are quite shy and unsure of themselves when they arrive, and too embarrassed to breathe out as they throw a kick or a strike because of the noise it makes. By the time they leave they are hitting the bags full power and letting out an almighty roar at the same time, it’s great to see Muay Thai having such a positive effect on a person’s confidence," Ole observes.
He shares, "We’ve had people come here for a month’s training who have then got on the flight home, quit their jobs, sold all their possessions and then moved back here to live! I think it is something about the healthy lifestyle which really appeals, people feel better about themselves when they are active every day and in really good physical condition."
Focus On Fitness
At home, there are always distractions abound that might sway you off-tangent from your training regime, like the office, your favourite pub or sheer laziness. These overseas fitness camps eliminate those distractions and puts you in a position where it's all about Muay Thai, or MMA.
Another crucial pull-factor -- for both serious fighters and amateurs alike -- is the intensity of these training camps. Depending on the length of your stay, you will essentially cram a few weeks (or even months) of your regular Muay Thai or MMA training into a couple of days, helping you accelerate your learning progress.
Ole, who will be fighting at the ONE FC event in Jakarta on February 11, explains, "As a professional fighter I train twice a day, six times a week. It’s hard but it’s also necessary in order to make sure I am in the best shape of my life in order to be able to smash the person standing opposite me when I step in the cage. If you take a Muay Thai class -- say, twice a week -- you probably spend four hours a week learning Muay Thai. That’s great and you will improve slowly and steadily, but at Legacy Gym, we train Muay Thai (or MMA) for four hours a day. So in one week you are learning what it would take you six weeks to learn normally, except that the learning process is way quicker when you train intensively and, unlike back home, you will be working one-on-one with a trainer who has had over 200 professional fights, so it is more like squeezing 20 weeks worth of your normal training into just six days."
Not All Work And No Play
Unlike serious competitors who attend these training camps as part of their fight preparation, most enthusiasts who sign up for these fitness holidays are mainly doing it to get fitter. "I think this is why so many people want to come and live the fighter’s life for a couple of weeks of the year; You get all the benefits in terms of things like fitness and weight loss but without the downside of having to actually fight someone at the end of it which, in my experience, can be painful," Ole says cheekily. "And of course, because you are not actually in training for a fight, you can skip a session now and again if you are feeling tired, and go out on Saturday night at the end of the week."
He adds, "It is quite rare for someone to go to every single session unless they are fighting, most people generally skip at least one or two a week. The sessions take place twice a day, five days a week, but attendance is completely voluntary. The only exception is if someone is training for a fight in which case they would be expected to attend every session. It's very flexible though, if you want to take it easy every now and again, that's up to you.
What Is A Typical Daily Routine?
These training camps are not so demanding that you train every waking hour of the day, if that's what you're concerned about. "We train from 6:30 to 8:30 in the morning, and 3:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon. It's a good idea to have a sleep between sessions. Every session normally starts with running and skipping, followed by one-on-one pad work with a trainer, some bag work by yourself and then sparring or clinching," shares Ole.
He explains further, "The MMA program is similar but the Muay Thai is mixed up with MMA techniques such as submissions and takedowns. Training is really different from everyone because my trainers will keep a close eye on you and work out what works best for every individual. If you have a fight then they will push you hard but if you are struggling to acclimatise to the heat, or are just looking for a light workout they will lower the pace. Training twice a day sounds hard but actually everyone can do it, the only thing that really changes depending on your fitness or physical condition is the pace of the workout."
Ole elaborates, "Everyone does more or less the same thing but they do it differently. For instance, everyone normally runs at the start of the day but the length or speed of the run will depend on the individual. A lot of the training is one-on-one with the trainers so it will be unique for every person. The trainers will assess your strengths and weaknesses and train you accordingly. For things like sparring or clinching or rolling, when you are working with a partner you will normally be put with someone who is a similar size or ability."
Ole Laursen will be action at the Battle of Heroes: One Fighting Championship on February 11 in Jakarta. Visit www.onefc.com for fight and ticket details.
Pictures courtesy of One Fighting Championship and Legacy Gym.