Strong is beautiful. 

Women have long shunned strength training in favor of aerobics, spinning and yoga. Now, attitudes are slowly shifting in line with a global movement that holds health, strength and beauty in equal and symbiotic regard.
 

Flo 


Flo Napasab is from Bangkok and works as an account strategist for a marketing company.
 
What exercise did you do before strength training?
I did a lot of cardio. 

Why did you start strength training?
I got bored doing the same workout without seeing any results, so I decided to try a strength class at BASE. 

Why do you enjoy strength training?
I love how you see measurable progress—in terms of body shape it gets the best results.

Did you have any reservations at first?
I thought that lifting heavy weights would make me look big, bulky and less feminine. My perception has completely changed—I’ve seen many positive changes in my body and am stronger and leaner. I’ve also learned about strength training principles, like progressive overload and rate of perceived exertion (RPE). I’ve also learned a lot about strength training principles from John [Del Castillo], my coach, such as progressive overload and rate of perceived exertion (RPE).

What’s been your biggest achievement in strength?
I competed in the recent Thailand Open Powerlifting Competition; to lift at national level was a proud achievement and a fun goal to aim for. On a personal level, I’ve gained strength while losing eight kilos, proving you can build muscle  without “bulking up.”

What have been the main benefits of strength training?
Losing weight (I even had to bring my watch rings in a few notches!), improving my body shape and butt, burning more calories, better posture and providing my body with a strong foundation for all activities. I’ve literally never felt better.

Do you think Thais’ attitudes towards strength training are changing?
A typical approach in Thailand is to try and lose weight through intense cardio as it’s often perceived that lifting heavy weights is not for women. In fact, it’s pretty difficult for women to get bulky—they would need to consume excess calories or do specific training. 


Cherm


Cherm Nualnim is a marketing research manager as well as being one of Thailand’s strongest female powerlifters.


What exercise did you do before strength training?
I used to do yoga, trail running and some boot camp-style classes before I started lifting.

Why did you start strength training?
I suffered from office syndrome and knee pain from trail running. Strength training helped me get through the pain—now it’s completely gone!

Did you have any reservations at first?
A little bit. I was scared of doing anything that could make my conditions worse but my coach gave me a program to ensure they slowly got better. 

What’s been your biggest achievement in strength?
Having a well-functioning body! I also won the best female lifter in the Thailand Powerlifting competition recently, which was a nice bonus.

What have been the main benefits of strength training?
For me, living pain-free has been simply life-changing. I am stronger and healthier than I’ve ever been.

Do you think Thais’ attitudes towards strength training are changing?
Yes slowly, as more gyms in Thailand are now offering lifting classes and equipment. However, there are still many myths surrounding strength training.

What would you say to anyone who’s thinking of starting strength training?
Be open-minded and do your research. Find a qualified, professional coach who really knows strength training and try it out.


Nok

 

When she’s not strength training, Nopparat “Nok” Rerkpisut is a lawyer for a city-center firm in Bangkok.
 
What exercise did you do before strength training?
All I did was yoga.

Why did you start strength training?
I joined a strength class as I was curious why it was so popular and I’ve been hooked ever since! Now my husband even lifts with me.

Did you have any reservations at first?
Not really, more like curiosity as to what it was all about.

What’s been your biggest achievement in strength?
My biggest improvement would be my deadlift—when I first started it was only 80kg, now it’s increased to 140kg. I’ve worked hard with my coach, John, to build this up and with his help, I competed at the National Thailand Open for Powerlifing recently.
 
What have been the main benefits of strength training?
I used to have knee pain whenever I walked—sometimes it got so bad that I couldn’t bend my knee at all so I’d have to walk like a penguin. Now, it’s completely gone!

Do you think Thais’ attitudes towards strength training are changing?
I think it’s starting to get better slowly. I do hope that in time people would understand the benefits of strength training and would stop believing myths like lifting would make you big and bulky. I can deadlift three times my bodyweight now and I’m still very small!


What would you say to anyone who’s thinking of starting strength training?
Do it. Don’t be scared or intimidated. Everyone has to start somewhere. Be consistent and you’ll see big benefits. 

 


Where to Strength Train in Bangkok

 

Muscle Factory

 
This kitted-out facility is tucked down Sukhumvit Soi 56, a short bike ride from BTS On Nut. There’s no aircon but its secluded location means lifters can make as much noise as they want without annoying the neighbors.
www.fb.com/musclefactorybkk
 


Siam Strength


Located deep down Sukhumvit Soi 49, Siam Strength boasts a well-qualified and passionate team that run both classes and personal training.
www.siamstrength.com 
 


BASE


BASE offers a 45-minute “Build” class for a general strength workout that can be adapted for all levels. “BASE Strong” is their 60-minute advanced class which will help you perfect your technique.
www.basebangkok.com 
 


Training Ground


Bangkok’s biggest CrossFit box has everything you need to go heavy and hard, located on Sukhumvit Soi 69.
www.traininggroundbkk.com 
 


Thai Powerlifting Federation


Newly established, this federation is on a mission to raise the profile of powerlifting in Thailand through seminars, certifications and competitions.
www.thaipowerliftingfederation.com