By Laura Dal Farra
I think it’s about time I write this down as I’ve seen enough people do some cracked things at the gyms I’ve trained at. I’ve seen it not only affect the quality of the training they received, I’ve also witnessed it, at times; affect the general mood of a gym. I’m not going to front and say I know every code of etiquette, nor will I suggest every gym is the same, nor am I your mother and feel the right to tell you what to do. What I’m looking to do is open a dialogue here, not a bitch session – we all need to help each other out. Whether you agree with this or not, this is the best I currently have to offer. Please excuse some of the language; my intent is to be concise, not dogmatic.
Feel free to add to, dispute and/or make adjustments to the following list:
1. Expect people not to speak English. Getting pissed off at them if they can’t generally won’t work in your favour. If you can’t handle it, try a more Foreigner friendly gym. Or pick up some Thai/bring a phrasebook with you. Lonely Planet publishes a decent one.
2. You might want to keep your attitude in check when you walk in the door. Most gyms are not only where the Thai nak muays train, it is also where they live. You want someone coming into your home and walking around screwfacing you? Screwfacing your little brother?
3. I think we should respect the Foreigners that are already there. We’re all in this together. I didn’t say you had to like them, or even speak to them, but yeah, I don’t think it’s a wise choice to walk into a gym and start copping attitude towards the other Foreigners. For a variety of reasons. One bringing us back to point numero two. You don’t know who’s who. Plus, who needs your negativity?
4. No one at the gym is your servant. No matter how much you pay. So keeping that in mind, you might want to clean up after yourself. There was a crew that came in that left garbage all over the place after every session…?
5. If you see beds in the vicinity, I wouldn’t use them to house your gym equipment, sweaty shorts, or anything for that matter. They’re beds. People sleep there….you’re not going to make friends leaving your nastiness on their sheets.
6. Wai before entering the ring. From my experience, it’s not necessarily expected from the Foreigners, but I think it’s a pretty good habit to form. If you’re confused, just follow the lead from the Thais.
7. Ladies, I suggest asking if you’re allowed in the ring if it’s not obvious. It sucks by our standards, but it’s a reality. Thailand is all over the place on this one. At some gyms we’re allowed in the ring, some we’re not and others have a ring specifically for women.
8. Ladies II. Wear a bra. Did I really have to write that? Really?
9. Ladies III. If you go in like you’re the party, expect to be the party. A lot of these guys aren’t around a lot of women. A lot of them have girlfriends and wives in other parts of the country they see periodically. If your mission is to use the guys like cattle….enjoy it….I guess…. ? I suspect you’ll have plenty of opportunity. However, please note, it can bring a lot of drama to your life and to the gym.
10. I’ll reiterate something Clifton Brown recently reminded me of – as outsiders, we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to learn this art from the Thais. Humility is a virtue.
11. Don’t be anybody’s bitch. Unless of course you enjoy it because from my experience, there’s plenty of potential for it to happen. I’ve seen people continually pay for people’s phonecards, lend people money they never get back, buy people crazy things. If you think it’ll gain you respect or a way in to someone’s heart, I don’t know, I haven’t seen it happen. It’s okay to say no. Even if it’s your trainer. There’s a difference between helping people out and being exploited. Be aware and make the choice. It’s yours.
12. Enjoy yourself. I think a lot of us come in on a mission to gain the most out of our training in the least amount of time. This is great, until it works against us. I know I’ve been guilty of this one. I’ve been too linear and tried to power through my training when I should have been more relaxed knowing that in time, it will come. I get a lot more out of my time and my trainer works better with me when I maintain the pace, but take pleasure in the present. Stressing about what I can’t do only messes with what I can do. I’ve been told over and over again by the krus I’ve been blessed with in this country to aim for daily improvement and not perfection. Type A personalities generally don’t fly well in gyms over here. And yeah, it’s a lot more fun for everyone involved.
13. Respect goes a long way.
Who’s got number 14?