Healthy Travel

Bear’s Gym in Jomtien, Thailand

When you’re in Thailand, whether it’s for a quick vacation, a semester abroad (ok, a semester goofing off), or you even live there as a digital nomad, you’ll quickly notice something: people are in really good shape.

Bear’s Gym in Jomtien, Thailand

Most Thais are in good shape, or at least they look like it. Of course, it’s a sporting culture, with Muay Thai the national sport/pastime/religion, and soccer, badminton, running, and weightlifting becoming more popular. The foreigners that visit there tend to be in shape, too. Of course, that’s a generalization, and there are plenty of fat asses roaming the plains of Thailand, but I find that a lot of European, Australian, South American, etc. travelers and tourists are way thinner, leaner, and more athletic than U.S. people.

In fact, I find myself working out a ton when I’m visiting Thailand, too. Although I’d rather lounge on the beach and gorge myself on Thai food while I’m there, my good buddy Judd Reid recruits me to participate in his legendary karate fight camps once a year, which literally and figuratively kicks my ass.

But even during non-fight camp visits, I end up working out hard when I stay in Jomtien, as my other good U.S. expat friend, Big Scotty the Body, drags my old bones to the gym every morning.

We have a good routine, which includes meeting at his car in the parking lot at 8:30am every morning, grumbling a quick hello if we haven’t had our coffee, and head right to the gym, where Scotty beasts out like a powerlifter while I check my phone and take selfies of my ass in the mirror. (Ok, I’m not that bad!)

There are several options for gyms as Scotty likes to mix it up depending on his workout. But the mainstay for his routine is Bear’s Gym, which is right on Kanchana Road in Jomtien. (You also can’t miss it because they have signs for Bear’s Gym on the road starting about 1km away!)

It’s also one of the nicest on face value, taking up all three floors of a commercial space with glass windows on the front.

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What is Thailand known for? Muay Thai! Get some!

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They do have some good quality equipment at Bear’s, with the machines, benches, and squat and pull-up rack on the first floor. The second floor contains the cable crossover, lat pulldown and back machines, light dumbells, and, my favorite, the heavy punching bag.

The third floor contains an open space for stretching or yoga or whatever and then a line of cardio machines around the outside.

There are bathrooms on all three floors, which is convenient, and the AC is also adequate, or you can switch on one of the area fans.

If there were any complaints it would be that the heavy bag is hard – I mean dangerously hard by bag standards, and you could easily break your hand or wrist on the concrete-like bag if you’re not prepared. It’s also in the middle of equipment and weightlifters, which is a little awkward and doesn’t give you enough space to move around it or kick (it should be on the third floor).

The staff is also reluctant to fix things, as I noticed the situp bench was broken and they didn’t care or even put a sign up on it, despite the fact that you went crashing to the ground when you sat on it.

Other than that, Bear’s is a fantastic place to work out seriously with one caveat – the price. In fact, it costs almost 200 Baht (almost $7) to work out at Bears for just one visit – a fortune here in Thailand! Your better option is a week or monthly pass, which is far more reasonable.

Enjoy your workout at Bear’s and say hi to Scotty the Body!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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