Where to work out in Siem Reap

What we say: 3.5 stars

Finding a gym in Siem Reap is an awful lot easier than doing burpees. With so many hotels in town, there are plenty of first-rate gyms to choose from. But if you’re not fortunate enough to be staying at one of those, there are plenty of dedicated independent gyms too. They may be a little more rough and ready, but still do everything you need to work up a decent sweat — though you’ll likely do enough of that just walking there.

A touch of the divine at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor.

A touch of the divine at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor.

Starting at the top, where else to go but Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap’s longest-running hotel? They have a small but beautifully-equipped fitness centre right beside the gorgeous 35-metre outdoor pool. You can get in by purchasing a spa package, which includes a spa treatment and massage, and access to the gym and the pool all day. Prices start at $40.

You could go for a five-star setting at a much lower rate at the Angkor Century Resort & Spa, which also has a huge pool, as well as a mid-sized, reasonably-equipped gym. It’s not as high-level as the gym at Raffles, but for $8, neither is the fee, which also gives you access to the pool. And don’t forget, the Pool Lagoon Bar has a happy hour from 16:00. Of course, you’ll have earned it.

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find SC Sport Club Fitness Gym and Angkor Muscle Gym. These are both local gyms with tons of weights and resistance equipment, though little in the way of cardio. They both do have running and cycling machines, but they have a look of the last century about them. Indeed, most of the equipment does, though it still does the job. It’s an extra $1 to use the treadmills in both gyms.

A Harris at work at Angkor Muscle Gym.

A Harris at work at Angkor Muscle Gym.

Neither of these has air-con, though you’d be surprised at how quickly you get used to that. You’ll probably want to drink more water than you usually do. SC Sport Club also has badminton courts if you fancy a game. Nothing better for working up a thundering sweat.

The fee for both of these is $1 (sometimes 75c at SC Gym — it seems to depend on who is on the door). The people-watching possibilities are priceless though. Both places always seem to be busy with young Cambodian men who appear to spend more time posing than pushing or pulling, though it’s a strategy that certainly seems to be working for them. They are radically shredded to a man. The owner of the SC Gym is also a personal trainer and while we haven’t used him, he has been very highly recommended to us on numerous occasions (it’s enough to make you paranoid).

Angkor Muscle Gym is possibly the longest-running gym in Siem Reap and also the home of Siem Reap’s Angkor Bodybuilding Association. They also have plenty of experienced trainers who can help you with muscling up.

SC Gym is off National Route 6, down a road just opposite Psas Leu; as you’re heading away from Siem Reap turn left just after you see the Honda dealer. Angkor Muscle Gym is to the south of Siem Reap, not far from the Crocodile Farm. From the Old Market Area, drive down the River Road, with the river on your left, until you get to a bridge, cross over, turn left and the gym is right there on the right hand side.

If the dull monotony of pounding treadmills and machines isn’t for you, then maybe check out the weekly Crossfit class at Angkor Fight Club. The class coach is a trained professional and is adept at working out how far you think you can go, and then giving you every positive encouragement to go the little bit further that makes all the difference in the world. The sense of satisfaction afterwards is thoroughly addictive. It’s just a little unpleasant in the 90-minute period prior to that.

To get there, ask your driver to take you to Bakheng Road, which is just parallel to Route 6 on the airport side. As you follow the road up, Angkor Fight Club is on the corner of a hard left turn. Go through the gates and it’s the place that kind of looks like a long shed. Again, AFC has no air con. Get ready to sweat.

Last updated: 15th September, 2015

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