It was in Chiangmai that I ventured into an actual gym for the first time since leaving London. By which I mean, a building whose sole purpose was fitness. Aka, not a crappy hotel ‘gym’, not a swimming pool, and not just a space in-between some trees to hang a TRX and do some ab exercises.
I stumbled across Miss Fitness Chiangmai on one of my aimless wanders around the town. I was craving a good workout- 16 hours on a train had left me in a bizarre state of lethargic restlessness. If I hadn’t been wearing completely inappropriate workout attire, I would have gone in there and then. Instead, flip-flopping home, I resolved try it out the following day.
It was a decent gym, with a good range of equipment. Unfortunately there was no squat rack or lifting platform – nor even any barbells. It was my first time in a women’s only gym, so I’m not sure whether that is the norm (and if so, that’s ridiculous). Still, there was plenty there for me have a good workout, even if I couldn’t go super heavy.
I spent about 15 minutes or so working on my pull-ups. It took such a long time for me to be able to do more than one unassisted pull up and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t lost it!
I super-setted 3 sets of 5 pull ups with hanging leg raises to really work my core. After I did 3 sets of 3 negative sets**.
In full disclosure, within about 10 minutes I was completely knackered. The air-conditioning wasn’t brilliant and the insane heat made everything seem so much harder than usual.
Still, I wanted to make the most of the 200 baht I’d paid for a day pass (around £4, which includes a locker and all classes). Money, and the fact that I didn’t know when I’d next be in a proper gym motivated me to carry on, so I decided to do some plyometrics and functional bodyweight training, which I always find fun.
I finished off with this quick circuit using the dumbbells and one of the wooden plyo boxes that I found hidden the corner of the room.
15 reps per exercise, 20 seconds rest in-between exercises and 60 seconds rest in-between rounds:
1) Dumbell Squat Thrusters
2) Box Jumps (with hand weights)
3) Raised leg shoulder press-ups
4) Weighted Step Ups
**negative sets, for those who are interested/don’t already know, are when you accentuate the eccentric contraction (“the release”), rather than the concentric contraction (“the squeeze”). In a pull up, this means that you ‘cheat’ through the difficult concentric part by jumping- or climbing- up to bend your arms and get your chest to the bar. Then you hold yourself at the top and release slowly back down, straightening the arms. It means that even if you can’t do the difficult part of the movement, you can cheat your way through that bit so that your muscles can still practice the easier part of the movement. If that makes sense?
If anyone has a better way of explaining negative sets then I’d love to hear in the comments!