Balance December 2017 - 59

THAI'D AND TESTED

Clockwise from left:
Phuket's Big Buddha
- all of 45m tall; the
idyllic Phi Phi Island

an athlete in waiting may need. But with access
to facilities often reserved only for fitness's
elite, the question is: Will it actually offer
anything for an everyday athlete like me?

WORDS: NILUFER ATIK, PICTURES: GETTY IMAGES AND STOCKSY

COACH AND COURSES
I've always wanted to be a better swimmer. I've
had a fear of open water since almost drowning
on a previous holiday, so I signed up for a
session, one-on-one, with Head Swim Coach
Miguel Lopez Alvarado. He coached threetime triathlon world champion and Olympic
silver medallist Javier Gomez, but I would be a
different sort of challenge.
We began with a few kicking drills. I held
onto the edge with my arms outstretched and
my body in the correct alignment. I had fallen
into the habit of letting my belly dip down
and thrashing my legs too much. Then came
coaching on the upper part of the movement
and within 45 minutes I was doing a full-on
front crawl without assistance. Before I'd only
ever managed a haphazard breast stroke. I
couldn't wait for my session with Australian
running athlete Clint Kimmins the next day.
'If you run outdoors, it's better to train
outdoors,' Clint smiled, motioning towards the
exit gate. I followed him out onto the dusty road.
My focus was firmly on perfecting my
technique. Like Alvarado, it took Clint just a
few minutes to see where I was going wrong.
He shouted his instructions after me as I
battled my way up the road, and he was right. It
was much more efficient. Half an hour in and I
was barely out of breath.
Before my final coaching session with resort
chief Chris McCormack himself, I sampled
some of the wellness treatments on offer.
I booked in for the Signature massage - a
combination of sports and classic Swedish
massage - and a class with mind trainer
Pierre Gagnon, who guided me through an
hour-long meditation.

DISC OVER T HE

B E ST O F
PHUKET
If you want to see a bit
more of the area while
at Thanyapura, there's
plenty to experience:

Pierre
spoke about
breathing
and mindful
techniques and I
put these into practice
during my two-hour cycle
with
Chris. To him, weaving through the trees and
shrubs that lined the route around Thanyapura
was a warm up, but I was struggling. 'The heat
and humidity is tough here,' Chris says. 'The
key is to hydrate properly beforehand, use small
gears on hills and focus more on the push of the
pedal than the pull.'

BEST IN CLASS
Want a little beach-time?
Venture to Koh Phi Phi, a
group of six islands 46km
away. One of the most
beautiful areas in Thailand,
with limestone mountains,
caves and long white sandy
beaches, this archipelago
includes Ko Phi Phi Leh, the
filming location for the 2000
movie The Beach. You can
reach Koh Phi Phi by ferry
from Phuket in two hours.

Shop to your heart's content
in Old Phuket Town with its
unique blend of colonial
and Chinese architecture,
plus funky stores, plenty
of restaurants and local
sights. There's a market
at weekends on Wirat
Hong Yok Road which
covers a 30,000sqm area,
selling clothing, souvenirs,
accessories, and even live
animals, as well as featuring
an entire section dedicated
to local food.

December 2017 BA LA N CE

As I applied his advice and managed to start
cycling alongside him, every field worker we
passed threw us a cheery wave. Thailand is
known as 'the land of smiles,' and the people we
met did nothing to dispel the reputation.
The final day meant a consultation with the
on-site chiropractor who showed me some
exercises to alleviate my ongoing back pain
(not cycling related, I should add) then it was on
to a yoga class. There are more than 80 classes
a week at Thanyapura, including Muay Thai
boxing, spinning, and strength training, so
there's plenty to keep you occupied.
Thanyapura isn't within easy walking
distance of beaches for sunbathing or towns
for shopping, but the health and fitness
hideaway spans more than 23 hectares of lush
gardens and manicured lawns surrounded by
emerald green lands. You can even take an
83km cycle ride to the famous white marble
masterpiece Buddha statue (basically you see
just about all the island). The mix of athletic
insight and well-being combines perfectly with
the beauty of the surroundings. It's easy to see
why athletes return so regularly; you leave in no
doubt that as rest and recuperation breaks go,
you've just experienced the gold standard. B

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance December 2017

Balance December 2017 - 1
Balance December 2017 - 2
Balance December 2017 - 3
Balance December 2017 - 4
Balance December 2017 - 5
Balance December 2017 - 6
Balance December 2017 - 7
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