After five weeks in Thailand, I feel like I lost half of my body weight. Ok, ok, while I’m not quite that cool, I did take off a good number of inches, my body shape changed, and I experienced community, camaraderie, and friendship, all while having the experience of a lifetime. Now, you may ask, how did I do such things? Well, I attended a weight-loss/fitness retreat at a place called Action Point in Phuket, Thailand, and now I know one of the absolute best ways to lose weight.
I will absolutely give Action Point and its staff a 9.8 out of 10. The .2 are such teeny tiny, nit-picky things that don’t even matter that much, but if you gotta rate something, well, there you go. I attended a very different type of retreat for 10 days prior to beginning this journey, and that place well, after seeing/experiencing what Action Point offered, was a 2 in total. AP created a retreat that was so well put together that it’s hard not to say great things about them. The people there truly became a family very quickly. From the booking process, the payment process, the communication prior to arrival, and the arrangement of pickup from the airport to the retreat itself, I was impressed! I felt welcome from the moment I was picked up. My driver spoke English, which immediately helped the transition to my upcoming month-long journey.
The Action Point Experience
Upon arrival, I was checked in and was provided a tasty welcome detox drink and greeted by a super friendly receptionist, energetic music, a schedule of events for the week, and a full tour of the facility before heading to my room. The place itself is pretty darn modern and pretty awesome. I will tell you that walking into a place where the men were tattooed and shirtless with sweat glistening from their bodies, made me a very happy girl. I had to do my best not to be the creeper from the window to see what the workouts consisted of while eyeballing the entertainment.
(ya, that’s it, I was wondering about the workouts) 😉 What a different environment from where I had just come from, where the retreat was yoga-based and filled with 99% of stretchy women.
One of the coolest things I found was that in the AP retreat, there were women and men of all shapes, sizes, and ages coming from all over the world. There was no judgment, and the level of support given by everyone I encountered was a beautiful thing. Each class was built so that you could go at your own pace, and for many of us, going slow was needed. We all had various reasons for entering the retreat, whether it was to the best way to lose weight, become more fit, learn a new skill set, or even just learn how to work out for the first time. This retreat was built to include people from beginners or severely overweight to super-fit and experienced (including one competitive powerlifter). No matter where you fell in the spectrum, they were more than accommodating to help you meet your goals.
Nutrition and Workout Plan
Upon entering the retreat, we met with Chris, one of the key personnel at the retreat, who was not only a trainer, but also sat individually with each one of us to go over our personal goals and explained how we would reach them. He provided a calendar with our weekly group workout sessions and went over the specifics of nutrition and the basics of balancing our lives while at the retreat. He was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful throughout the training process!
The nutrition and workout plan was designed individually based on your fitness levels and goals. So, whether that was a tailored menu for the best way to lose weight or muscle gain, or classes varying from personal training sessions with resistance bands, body weight, or regular weights, high-intensity classes (HIIT), Muay Thai, or a variety of yoga classes, they had almost everything you could desire. My one desire was if they would have had a dance or Zumba class (come to find out that starts next week—yes, I’m bummed I’m missing it), but my body may have revolted if I would have tried too many extra things. I think almost every one of us going in wanted to hit every class we could (which was completely the opposite of what you should do), but the first week, we were excited and gung-ho, and it just happens. In the first week, you also learn that if you haven’t worked out in a long time (or ever), your body hates you. Lol. The facility does have an elevator, but the goal was to always take the stairs (and they put the food on the top floor), so you had to do it, at least four times a day. The first week hurts like hell (I truly enjoyed it this last (4th week) watching those of the 1st week make it up those stairs. The look on their faces was priceless. The people who were there for a while all knew we had done something right when we no longer looked like death warmed over getting up those stairs. SCORE!
Regarding the nutritional plan, you chose what your goals were. If you were there to purely increase your fitness levels, you could choose from the items on the menu, or you were on plan to learn the best way to lose weight, the meals were preplanned for you. You would just let the staff know you’d like breakfast, lunch, etc, and they’d prepare something to correct level of macros you required.
Eating the amount of food (clean and healthy) was one of the hardest things to do while I was there. I’m used to eating a few times a day in smaller portions, but here, we were almost force-fed food. I was so tired of just chewing, you just don’t know. The food prepared was great (I won’t miss having broccoli for breakfast through), but to meet your minimum requirements a day, eating clean is ridiculously challenging. There were so many days I couldn’t get through all my meals. It just wouldn’t fit. Also, the variety of options became very routine. One can only eat so much chicken and fish. So, a little more variety to the menus would have been a plus, but also a course where we could take small groups and learn how to cook the meals we were eating to understand how to do it for ourselves. With all of that being said, I slimmed and trimmed down quite a bit even with “all” of that going in, and the ladies doing the cooking did a phenomenal job keeping us fed!
HIIT Classes at ActionPoint
As far as the classes, they have two HIIT classes. They “appeared” intimidating, but after just a few sessions, you figured out that you really could do it. I personally thought I would never do a cross-fit type of class in my life and then realized that it was possible. I was always intimidated by seeing the types of movements and the level of intensity that everyone had. The wonderful thing here was that you could tailor it to your level, and take breathers are you needed them. The trainers did not yell or scream, they motivated and encouraged, and you never felt like you were failing. You could choose your own weights and the speed you could handle. The group was there to motivate you and to go through “the torture” with you, as you control the difficulty of each class is to be able to make it through.
I was also amazed to see and learn how knowledgeable and attentive the trainers were. At a minimum, there were two trainers per class assisting, as well as the OG’s that had been there longer that could help the newbies. They were used to the workouts and understood the movements and were a huge resource. The trainers at AP were all certified and truly walked the walk. They were physically fit and seemed to know all the answers. Understanding the proper way to work out and eat was an eye-opener, as I’ve been doing it wrong (or at least a bit skewed) for the last 44 years.
By way of personal training, they assigned a coach they felt would mesh well with your personality and training needs. They were fully willing to alter coaches if you didn’t mesh with your trainer, but I’m not sure that could ever even be a thing here. All of the coaches were amazing, and especially my coach (Eng) was just awesome. The discussion from day one was all about your needs, potential limitations, and your personal goals. The trainers would sit and talk with you to come up with a strategy that they would tailor to best suit your needs. With so many physical limitations that I have, my trainer had a challenge to find ways to work around those problems and find safe and effective ways to help me achieve my goals. These are skills I will now be able to take with me for a lifetime.
As I mentioned, I personally have a number of physical limitations (knee issues, 13 vertebrae fused back, and plenty of arthritis to go around). My cardio levels were at close to zero after not working out at all for about a year and gaining 40 pounds. (Damn you Italy-I blame your pasta, and Germany-your beer, LOL). So, as I said, the first week (well, actually first two weeks—sucked—for lack of a better term!!!!) not because of AP, but purely because my body had to relearn movement, and a lot of it very quickly like any workout plan after taking a significant period of time off. My body was not happy, but it was about time to get back on track.
The trainers taught me how to protect my back, alter my movements to be able to strengthen my knees, and provided the support and motivation to help me reach my goals. While I couldn’t do 30% or so of the moves in the classes, it was the fact that I kept moving that was important. One of the older of the clients at the property was about 65, and the youngest in their 20s, so the limitations of not only myself but the others varied immensely. The trainers had their work cut out for them!
The yoga classes varied, but all were built in a manner where the instructors adapted the moves to your abilities. Whether it was power yoga, Bikram yoga, aerial yoga, or yin (the chill out at the end of the day yoga class), they could all be adapted from beginners to the most experienced yogis. The instructors modified the moves to the individuals in the class and each trainer provided a different energy and philosophy to the classes.
In some, the heaters were turned on which turned you into a puddle (aka hot yoga), which was awesome. You sweat to the point you dripped like a faucet from your elbows, but the level of relaxation by the end was something I hadn’t experienced before. We all had to mop up our puddles, but your body just feels different after one of these sessions. In another type of class, one of our instructors brought in the singing bowls to create a different vibration within your body. We as humans work on certain frequencies, and while some may find this a little woo-woo, there’s definitely something to it. You may not immediately feel different, but it was a nice addition to the class.
Another of our instructors was phenomenal at aerial yoga and teaching us the ways of the gurus. The swings (or very sturdy pieces of cloth) were hung close to the floor for a more relaxing version for one class to help us to get used to using the swings.
In a later class, they were hung much higher which provided a greater challenge for all of us. This variation provided a higher level of energy form of yoga as well as a ton of giggles from our class as we learned how to use the swings (and not fall out). Both ways were fun and new to almost every one of us in the room. Again, from people large to small, young to old, and new to experienced, the class provided all of us with a unique experience to bond over.
The signature sport of Thailand. This was my absolute favorite. My trainer was Alex from Italy and I swear he had the patience of a saint. He would demonstrate the moves, have you try them, stop you when you began to do it wrong, and reset. This process happened over and over and over and yet he stayed very focused. The sheer quality of trainers, I can’t say enough about. I’ve never really considered training to “fight”, but rather I just enjoyed the cardio aspect in addition to the kicking and punching and kicking things (who knew?). You get to beat on your trainer, but he doesn’t get to beat back, lol.
It certainly helped me feel like I was more powerful than I thought. Just having that feeling of learning a new skill and working hard was a sense of accomplishment. It appears I haven’t fully learned my left from my right, but the coordination with practice and time will find its way into my muscle memory (or at least I hope). I enjoyed it so much that I decided to stay in Thailand for another two months to train and learn as much as I can.
Massages, Sauna, Ice Baths
Within the packages that AP has, massages are provided 3x per week. You can adjust the time of day, but the masseurs will come to your room with their big mat and roll it out on the floor. We had our choice of a Thai massage (very stretchy) or a relaxing oil massage. I’d say most of us weren’t as happy with the intensity of the massages. This would be part of the 0.1% of meh. The ladies that did make it in for our massages were lovely, although many didn’t speak English. That wasn’t really a problem. We all knew the drill. The level of intensity of the massages was more so the issue even after translating the “push harder” concept to really work out the knots from the workouts.
There was a place though that most everyone had to try that was outside of the facility called Keds. Just up the street a little way, they offered sports massages that were way more intense for around 300 baht (around $9) for the hour.
Walks/Hikes are The Best Way to Lose Weight
There were several walks/hikes you could participate in during the week. The Tues/Thurs version lasted for about 45 minutes and the goal was to get the heart rate to around 120 beats per minute. This was intended to be for the first part of the day to stimulate the fat-burning process. One walk was around the lake and the other went up the mountain, but neither was overly difficult. Now, the first hike on that first Sunday that I was there (called Big Budda), where we hiked what seemed to be the largest mountain in the entire world, was ridiculously painful! It really wasn’t, but after that first week of working out and the body just calling Uncle, this hike was intense.
The next week, it was about a million times easier, but still not easy. I was just surprised at how out of shape I really was. Thankfully in the month, everything got “easier”, but nowhere close to easy. Now, I wished I would have had 3-6 months to spend there and come out looking like I was 25 again.
Reception and Housekeeping
The ladies who worked at the front desk were awesome. They kept us all on track, scheduled outings, coordinated our training sessions, massages, laundry, and made us feel welcome every time we walked downstairs. Even Lucky the Dog was there to make us smile and would offer up his chew toy to play with. The ladies would provide recommendations for where to go and things to do, and on many of the days training with us as well. It was great to get to know the entire “family”.
Housekeeping was also done on a daily basis. They changed out our towels daily, made the beds, did a light cleanup, and collected the trash and any glasses/plates we may have brought down. They were super-fast and generally made it into the room in even the smallest of windows between breakfast and training. A little extra attention to countertops, shower shelves, and sweeping could have happened here, but overall, they did a great job keeping us neat and tidy.
Now you probably want to know how much it costs to attend a retreat like this for a month. You can choose the number of days you want, whether you just want to utilize the trainers and classes (stay somewhere else), or you want the entire kit and kaboodle. Here, it may be one of the more expensive retreats in Thailand, but it is well worth the cost. You could attend for a month for 99,000 baht or around $3,000. For a wellness retreat with housing, all your classes, evaluations, personalized training, massages, food, pool, ice/steam baths, and being catered to, and never having to leave the property if you don’t want to; this is a pretty darn good price. You could reduce that significantly if you stayed somewhere close by and rented a scooter to get around for the month. Although, being able to head right back upstairs for me was almost priceless for me.
There were several people staying outside of the resort and for me having to run back and forth throughout the day would have deterred me from coming back after the first training session of the day. That’s purely a personal preference. You potentially could have saved $1,000 if going that route depending on the type of place you were willing to stay in. Thailand can be very, very cheap depending on the standard of living you wish to have while in the country. You could also, just choose a place with a gym attached, but you wouldn’t get the experience and attention AP provides. So, while this may be a bit higher of a price tag for a retreat in Thailand, you can’t beat it around the world (I’ve looked). Portugal was one of the other countries that came close to being one of the less expensive countries for this type of retreat, but the value I received was worth it. Now, if you are looking for a yoga retreat (this really isn’t that), even though they do have yoga, it’s more of a place for the high energy, bounce, run around, and playing versus the meditating and standing on your head kinds of places.
So, for me personally, I ended up losing 24 pounds in a month and a week and 17 inches overall. I can breathe better and I’m not getting as winded just walking up the hills/stairs. I’ve learned new skills and met a lot of amazing people that I hope to one day see again. So, for me, this retreat was an absolute success, and I will 1000% recommend it and I will be back!
So, What’s Next?
I do wish I would have booked this place for 2 months. The first would be to regain my basic fitness level and the second is to really be able to enjoy the process and allow the addiction to working out to take over again. Many people I talked to booked for a week or two weeks at a time, and a few for 3-5 months. For me, I will say it stimulated the desire to want to learn more about Muay Thai and other versions of self-defense, so I’ve decided to change my plans and find yet another retreat that offers a different, but well-rounded version of only“fighting/self-defense” courses in another part of Thailand. I’m intrigued and am less scared to learn a skill set I’ve always been intimidated to try. Sometimes it does take a little nudge just to push you in the right direction. So, I can’t wait to see what the results will be in the future, and I’ll have all those details for you in the next few months! For you all, if you have a little time on your hands and want to head to one of the best places to lose weight, make sure you check out Action Point Fitness in Phuket, Thailand, let the games begin, and always remember to Travel Till You Drop!