Why I love... the Soi

‘I moved to Thailand, now I work out four times a day’

Hannah O’Neill: “The people I train with have become some of my best friends.”

I live on a non-descript street just off a highway in Chalong, Phuket, the southernmost tip of Thailand. Originally a training ground for Muay Thai fighters, this area, known as the Soi, has become the international epicentre of health and fitness.

Last October, knowing very little about this place, I committed to a four-week programme to kick-off a trip around south-east Asia. Before, my exercise history was sporadic at best.

Now I generally workout three to four times a day, with rest days on Thursday and Sunday. Occasionally, I take the 7am yoga class, then cross training is at 9am. This is where I am pushed the most. It took three months of training before I would even attempt this class.

At 1pm we have lunch, and I am ravenous and need all the carbs to refuel. The afternoon is for rest, recovery, work and tanning. Strength class is at 5pm, and it changes every day – Monday is deadlifts; Tuesday is a push or pull session; Olympic lifting is on Wednesday; Thursday is for gymnastic skills and Friday is squats.


By Saturday, everywhere hurts.

The people I train with have become some of my best friends. It is a unique bond that you share when training with somebody, your rawest weaknesses exposed. My time on the Soi has completely reshaped my perception of fitness. I have ambitions of a 100kg deadlift and 15km runs. I am hungry to do more, not weigh less. The Soi is my new home.