Small gym, small prices
Published/Last edited or updated: 12th September, 2016
Angkor Fight Club is a small gym just to the west of the city offers classes in Muay Thai, mixed martial arts and Crossfit, and it does it at prices you’d be hard pressed to find in the West, which might be why it is gaining so much in popularity. That, and the growing attraction of sports like UFC (ultimate fighting championship) to public audiences.
At AFC, they hold kickboxing classes at 18:00 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for beginners and intermediates, and at 19:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays for intermediates. It might seem intimidating at first, but kickboxing is fast gaining a reputation as an ideal sport for improving cardio and muscular fitness, and there’s no questioning its ability to blow away fat and pack on muscle in its place. It’ll also hone your reflexes and tone everything up. The classes can be as tough as you want them to be; they’re run in such a way that that you will be challenged if you push yourself, but they also give you the space to take it easy if you still need to catch up on your fitness. No one here is going to judge you — this is not a macho, testosterone-fuelled bear pit — a good proportion of the regulars are women (kickboxing-addicted Travelfish included). Those trained to a higher level will maybe not get so much out of the 18:00 classes, but there is also a solid core of fast and powerful local guys who train at AFC and are often up for a spar. There is also pad holding on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 10:00. (Check though to ensure schedules haven’t changed between now and your trip.)
Meanwhile, Crossfit has been making an impact on people’s waistlines all over town. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a form of high-intensity training that is designed to keep working even after you’ve finished. Again, the version inflicted, err, promoted here is not the insane variety practiced in other gyms. It’s tough, and at some stage you will wonder what in the name of Satan prompted you to think this was a good idea, but that moment swiftly passes, and you can later on head to Pub Street with a lighter conscience, and gut — it’s all about the yin and the yang, right? These classes now run on Saturdays at 15:00 and Wednesdays at 18:00.
Mixed martial arts incorporates elements of a variety of disciplines, as the name suggests, and training is every Monday and Wednesday evening at 19:30.
The main coach/owners are both professionals, and other international coaches join in from time to time. The conditions are not luxurious — there’s no air-con, for instance — and the atmosphere is more like an old school local gym than high-class sweat palace. Princesses, of either gender, might not be up for it, but if your aim is to get fitter, stronger and faster, we think it’s a million times better, more fun and more value for money than pretty much anything else in town. As stated above, the atmosphere is not balls-to-the-wall gung-hoism, but based on friendly, professional and positive encouragement. The rates are $6 for a drop-in class, or $40 for a month’s membership. If you only want to do Crossfit, you can join a class for $6, or get a monthly membership for $15.
Getting there is not necessarily the easiest, even if you have a map. The best way is to hop onto a tuk tuk or moto and ask them to take you to "Bakheng Road" ("plau bakheng"). Almost all of the drivers know where that is. You will know you're on it when you start to leave the tightly packed buildings of the town centre and cross a small road with a narrow canal alongside), then the space on the left opens up to a sandy open field topped off by a large, modern, ugly and mainly uninhabited building complex. Angkor Fight Club is there, on the right hand side of the road, just before it takes a hard left.
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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