As some of you may know on my recent trip I acquired a Staph infection, and upon returning I had it reoccur twice. As a result, I have done a lot of research on the matter, and read plenty of articles. I found one imparticular that was informative and helpful. Since the article was so well written I asked for permission to use this on my blog, instead of rewriting it myself. Thanks to ssssmashing from Sherdog.net for writting this article. I hope you find it helpful.
What is staph? Staph or staphylococcus is a bacterium that is very common and most forms are harmless. The form that is really becoming a real problem lately is staphylococcus aureus, which can infect the skin. It can live in dry surfaces like mats, pads and gym clothes. However it grows best in moist surfaces like sweaty gi’s, gloves, etc. Hot tubs can be a real good breeding ground for Staph. Staph infections can be fatal if untreated and many have had to undergo surgeries to remove infected tissue (trust me you don’t want to have to undergo a skin graft or amputation!)
What does it look like? Typically it looks like red bumps, pimples or spider bites. It can also look like an inflamed boil, may ooze puss and can turn into an abscess. Often if is swollen, inflamed, red and painful. If it looks like this and doesn’t clear up in two to three days seek treatment from a doctor(or immediately if you develop a fever).
What should I do if I have it? Stop working out and exposing others and go get it checked out. Go to a physician and ask them to culture it. Why culture it you ask? If you have a strain that is resistant to antibiotics, often referred to as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the wrong antibiotic can actually make your condition worse. It kills off your skin’s flora (good bacteria), compromising your body’s natural ability to fight the infection and creates an ideal environment for the disease to spread. If your doctor advises you that you have MRSA, you may want to ask to be referred to an infectious disease specialist, as some of the strains are very virulent and require very aggressive treatment.
How is it treated? Typically if it is caught early an oral antibiotic and/or antibiotic cream or topical solution will clear it up. For more aggressive strains it may require IV antibiotics and possible surgical remediation. While resistant to most beta lactam antibiotics commonly used for skin infections, it remains sensitive to alternative antibiotics, e.g., clindamycin (Cleocin), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), and doxycycline (unlike hospital-acquired MRSA that may only be sensitive to vancomycin IV).
How can I prevent it? If you suspect someone else has it do not roll or spar with them and advise them to get treatment. Always take a shower after workout and scrub thoroughly with an antimicrobial soap, if a staph outbreak is present in your gym you may want to consider using a surgical scrub such as Hibiclens, which are available over-the-counter.
Keep your gear clean! Wash your workout clothes or gi after every workout. Keep your gym clean! Mats should be wiped down after every workout – you can use a diluted bleach solution or there are commercial products developed specifically for mats that are a little more expensive. Wraps should be washed and gloves and pads should be dried out as quickly as possible.
Using common sense and good hygiene can prevent this disease from getting a foothold in your gym or club.
This information is not exhaustive, nor is it overly clinical – this is intentional. If you want clinical information you can find some good information at sites like WebMD or even wikipedia.
I have been getting a lot of emails recently from people who are also interested in training Muay Thai in Thailand, although they want to wait until their skill or fitness is at a higher level. I suppose the idea is that they don’t feel that they are good enough to train at the level that would be expected if they were training in Thailand. There is less truth in that statement than one would believe. Training in Thailand is a great experience and I recommend it to anyone. Here are a couple things to keep in mind regarding your skill and fitness before deciding you are not ready to train in Thailand. (At the end of this post, you should book your ticket!)
Get Ready To Relearn From The Start – Here is the thing, no matter how long you have trained in Muay Thai, you will always have something to learn, and the trainers will always have something to teach you, or improve about your technique. Before going to Thailand I had trained Muay Thai for 1 year, anywhere from 4-6 times a week. I was in pretty good shape and my technique was pretty good. When I arrived in Thailand, and started training, almost everything about my form and technique was altered by my trainers. This isn’t because I was doing things wrong or incorrect, it’s just that there are different ways to do things. Throughout the world, each instructor will have slight variations on style and technique. In fact, you will find if you journey to different camps that different camps will teach things differently… possibly even different instructors within the same camp. Something as simple as your stance will be tweaked and corrected by your trainers in Thailand.
With that being said, if you are new to Muay Thai, you may be at an advantage. Why is that??? Well, it’s pretty simple actually… there is nothing to “unlearn” Since you haven’t had a particular stance, or kicked a certain way, you won’t have to unlearn that way, and substitute it with your new method. In fact, at the camp I was at, almost every day there was a new person showing up who had never trained Muay Thai before. The main point here is that whether you are a newbie or a vet, when you head to Thailand everyone is basically on an even playing field, so don’t be fearful about your skill level.
Extreme Fitness – There is no better way to get in shape than training Muay Thai directly in Thailand. I don’t care what camp you train at, you are going to get in shape faster in Thailand on a “training holiday” than you would in your own town. There are many reasons for this including the warm weather, healthy food diet, intense training and lack of life distractions. You will often read stories on websites or forums of people who lost anywhere from 15 – 50 lbs. in a short time of training in Thailand. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do a little preperation ahead of time. As I stated before, I was training intensely for about 1 year, although I only focused on increasing my cardio the month before my trip. I started doing a lot of running for the last 4 weeks before my trip. Even with the great shape I got myself in prior to arriving at camp, I still had more shape to get into. You will get into that extra needed shape quickly with many conditioning exercises such as skipping, running, shadow boxing, etc. on a daily basis. To sum it up, I am pretty much saying the same as above. No matter how good shape you are in, you can always get in better shape, so don’t let that deter you from a once in a life time experience.
In The Ring – There is a big difference between thinking you are not at a high enough level to train with the Thai’s and that you are not at a high enough level to Fight with the Thai’s. The truth is, to get into a ring and compete it takes a lot of dedication and skill, especially in a country like Thailand. But to get into a gym and train, it simply takes a lot of desire. You just have to want to do it, and you need to have enough follow through to just get in there and give it some effort. You won’t be expected to get in a ring and fight when you are in Thailand… in fact, even sparring is voluntary at most gyms. If you are a little gun shy of being hit, and just want to focus on fitness, you can do that as well.
Once again, I encourage all of you to take the opportunity to go to Thailand and train in Muay Thai. It is a great experience to learn a martial art, and enhance your body and mind in the middle of the Thailand culture. Please don’t let your fears prevent you from living your dreams.
I just read an interesting post on a website that listed 10 reasons you should choose your Muay Thai Gym. This actually seemed more geared towards people in the states picking a gym, as opposed to picking one in Thailand, and since it was a gym that listed it on their site, you can assume that they met all the qualifications that they listed. lol.
It is a good point though, that there are factors that people should consider when picking their gym. Unless you have trained at the cam, or personally know someone who has, you won’t really know what to expect when you arrive at the camp to train, or even why you should pick Camp A over Camp B.
Here are some good tips to consider when picking your Camp.
1. Time Vs. Money – For many people, one of the biggest reasons they choose their camp is the price. You may compare a couple different gyms, with one being lets say 8000 baht, and the other being 10000 baht. A lot of people will make the decision to go with the cheaper gym, simply because of price. But what you need to consider is time. Let’s say the gym that’s 8000 only has 2 sessions a day, totallying 4 hours each day, meanwhile the gym that costs 10000 has 2 sessions, which are 3 hours each day. Essentially over the course of a month, you get more for your money with the gym that costs a little more, because you end up getting an addition 50 hours of training time. However, you do have to ask yourself how much you are planning on training. If 2 hours a day is enough for you, then go with the cheaper gym, and enjoy the beach. If you are serious about your fitness, training and possibly fighting, than consider the gym that gives you more time.
2. Location – This is extremely important. You have to consider not only where the camp is, and your travel to the camp, but also what is around the camp. Are you going to be able to fly directly into an airport with the camp a short taxi drive way, or do you have to take a long bus trip or ferry ride to get to your camp? What is even more important is what the camp is located near. Are their food and pharmacies and other shops within walking distance? If not, you may have to spend extra money on either renting a motor bike, or paying for taxis during your time there. Keep this potential extra expense in mind.
3. Facilities/Trainers – If you have never been to a camp before, you should try to look at pictures, or read a list of equipment they have at the camp. You want to look for how many rings and heavy bags they have. If they only have 1 or 2 rings, you may find yourself doing sparring or pad work outside the ring, due to space. You also want to find out if they provide equipment for you to train with, or if you must provide your own. It could either mean you have to pack more with you, or buy it when you arrive. Another thing that is over looked are mats. Do the floors have mats, or are you training on concrete? If they do have mats, you may want to ask how often they are cleaned, as you don’t want to get a skin infection. Finally, you want to find out what the student to trainer ratio is for the camp. The better the ratio, the more one on one time you get with the instructors.
4. Read Reviews (Good and Bad) – Do a Google search for the name of the camp you are considering, followed by the word “reviews”. Most camps will have a decent amount of reviews whether it be on message boards, blogs, etc. Read ALL the reviews you can, both the good and the bad. Don’t ignore either because you already favor the camp. If someone has something bad to say, there is probably some truth to it. That shouldn’t necessarily steer you away from the camp, but you may want to keep it in mind, so you can address it if it happens to you. At the same time, if you find 10 good reviews, and 1 or 2 bad reviews, the chances are it’s a worth while camp.
5. Contact The Camp – Contact the camp via email or phone, and ask them any questions you have. They are the number one source and will give you the exact answer. Also, if you contact them via email, and they respond, you have some writing from them that you can refer to should a problem arise. You can also tell a couple things from this. If they respond quickly, and throughly, then it is a good sign that they are well organized. You should also be able to tell how well the office/administration staff communicates in English. That is important as you could avoid any unecessary miscommunications.
6. (Don’t Just) Read The Website – This is almost a catch 22. You want to read the website, as it will give you an accurate depiction of how organized and professional the camp is. You would be surprised how many Muay Thai Camp websites I have seen that simply don’t have their training prices or anything regarding accomodations on their site. Even if the camp itself doesn’t have accomodations, they should list local places on their site. If they do, they are making it as easy as possible for you to have a seemless, enjoyable experience. If not, it sends you a more negative depiction of the camp.
However, even a camp with a great website, may not necessarily be a great camp. I’ve seen websites that are professionally done in a really nice Flash design, but has limited facilities and very small clientel. There is an advantage in that, as it will give you more one on one time with the trainer, but it also limits you on things like sparring and your social experience. With that being said, as I stated above, do your dilligence and research the camp(s) that you are considering, beyond just their website.
I hope that information helps you out in your adventure. Please feel free to post any comments or questions below.
A good rule of thumb is to only pay for between 25-33% in advance. There are several reasons for this, but the most important is injury. In most of the camps you will train in, there will be no refund if you are injured during your training. Additionally, the chance of getting injuried is pretty high. Let’s face it, we aren’t training in ballet, it’s Muay Thai, and there is a good chance you may get injuried in the ring.
There is also the chance you will get an outside injury, such as a stomach virus, staph infection or even a motor bike accident (Yes, I had all 3 on my first trip). Any of these injuries could keep you out for only a few days, or as long as a week. If you paid for 1 month of training up front, and you miss an entire week, that’s 25% of your training that you paid for and won’t receive.
I’m going to give you the prices for 1 gym from Bangkok, and 2 from Phuket, and show you the differences in discount for training daily, weekly and monthly (where applictable).
1 Week – 2300 baht
1 Month – 8000 baht
1 Day – 500 baht
1 Week – 3000 baht
1 Month – 10,000 baht
1 Day – 500 baht
1 Week – 2500 baht
1 Month – 9000 baht
As you can see, there is usually only a small discount 10 – 15%, if you pay for the entire 1 month in advance, at all 3 of these places (usually around 1000 baht) however, if you miss a week because of injury, it will have cost you a larger portion of that payment, even after the discount (2000 – 2500 baht).
My suggestion is if you are going for a month, then just pay for the first 1 to 2 weeks in advance. If you are going for 3 months, then pay for only the first month. Best of luck in your training. I hope this tip helps.