Before I tore my MCL, I traveled and trained Muay Thai full time. I preferred living in the gym to make sure I attend all training sessions. Never mind that I lived with 15 other men or so. Training in the most beautiful island locations, I was beyond certain I would fall into laziness if I lived elsewhere.
Removing the extra step of getting my ass into the gym made training smoother. All I needed to do was grab my gear, get out of my door, and go downstairs to train – sometimes walking, other times half-crawling. It does not matter how, as long as I make it, I feel good. Post-training, I just have to do everything in reverse, hop in the communal shower, eat, and be back in my room until the next training bell. Simple.
Of course, there is no perfect setup. Some people are plain shocked when they learn I live in the gym with the equivalent of an entire football team including substitutes. I really do not mind. We are all there to train, we all have our individual rooms, and because the gym is small, we are like family. Fighters usually have a lot of respect for each other.
The boys I trained with were nice people. They were from everywhere across the globe. Some of the best people I know I met through training. We were the same, travelers interested in fitness and martial arts, in testing the limits of what our minds and bodies can do. We were all away from family and friends and the comforts we were used to. For the meantime, we had each other.
Living in a gym does not afford anyone much privacy though. The rooms are above the training area, small and Spartan, without air-conditioning or private toilet and bath. Everything is made of bamboo.
This means, if my neighbor turns to his side at night, I know. If he has a guest, I know. If they are doing things, I know. I do not know how this sounds to you, but this is a minor inconvenience for me. When you tell them to keep it down, they usually do.
Training is twice every day, which is good because I can squeeze in other activities that I enjoy like dragonboat paddling, yoga, or having food with beautiful new friends from the islands.
Every time training starts, the trainers blast loud music. Even if I did not feel like training, I always end up dragging myself downstairs because there is no comfort in my room anyway.
Almost always, I will be the only girl in the gym, the smallest and lightest, but everyone treated me fairly. I wish I can tell you they go easy on me, but they do not.
We train six days a week, four hours a day, and on Saturday night, everyone goes out. I never liked to party, but I go with them, if only to carry drunk and dead bodies back to the gym before the morning breaks. Sometimes I hold buckets for them to throw up on, other times I just have to make sure they end up on the correct room. It is a hit and miss.
Living in a gym is light-years away from glamour and several steps from comfortable. It has taught me a lot though. It showed me that I really do not need much to survive, that I can get along with people regardless of gender, age, race, skill, and intelligence, that I am capable of living well on a backpack, and that I can kick ass if I worked hard enough.
It has been a while since I stepped into a gym, much more live in one, but I cannot wait for the day when it happens again. I do not know how I would feel post-MCL injury, but I will make sure I will have fun. This kind of Muay Thai lifestyle is sure not for everyone, but this girl likes it.