Live right, eat right, and you’re bound to be all right
It’s no secret that Bangkok is not exactly the healthiest city in Southeast Asia, as the air quality is marred by the fact that there are too many polluting vehicles on the roads, and not enough green spaces off the roads. Add to that the myriad of vices at our fingertips here—all the deep-fried food, sugar-laced beverages, and motorcycle taxis that have replaced the need for walking—and it’s no surprise that most people pack on more than a few pounds after only a short time of living here. Meanwhile, people who have lived here all their lives are suddenly experiencing increased rates of obesity, and according to Dr. Gerard Lalande in an article in The Nation newspaper, 32 percent of the population in Thailand are overweight.
So what can be done? Well, exercise is the most obvious answer and in Bangkok there are endless options. Yoga is practiced throughout the country, by people of all walks of life, and in the downtown core there are plenty of respected studios to choose from, with Yogatique, Yoga Elements, Bangkok Hot Yoga, Iyengar Yoga Studio, and the Ashtanga Yoga Center of Bangkok consistently getting 4 and 5 star reviews online. Likewise, Pilates is also a popular fitness regime and The Balance Studio, Pilates Plus Bangkok, and Pilates by Apittiya are some of the most raved about venues. You can even get into aerial yoga—probably the trendiest yoga workout at the moment—at places like Yoga Fly and Sana Motion, and if you’re up for braving the chance of falling into the Chao Phraya River, SUP Yoga specializes in stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga.
For something a little more traditional, get a gym membership and join the hordes of sweaty city slickers shedding pounds at any one of the dozens and dozens of fitness centres in town (see pg. 16 for more). And if the big box gyms aren’t your cup of tea, then look into one of the city’s more niche exercise spots. At CrossFit BK—the first CrossFit affiliate in Bangkok—super challenging and innovative workouts take place on the open-air rooftop training area (clearly visible from the Asok BTS Skytrain station). Innovative training is also the idea behind The Lab, a fitness-training studio on Sukhumvit Soi 31 that offers tailor-made programmes utilizing everything from kettle bells and TRX suspension trainers, to big tyres, ceiling ropes, and gymnastic rings.
However, if you’re looking for something really oddball try Aquabiking Bangkok on Sukhumvit Soi 16, which involves pedalling a stationary bicycle that is submerged in water, or Surf Set on Sukhumvit Soi 42, where the workout programme makes use of surfing techniques. Meanwhile, OMMO is a boutique fitness studio in the Sathorn area (Naradiwas Soi 4) where music is used to curate workouts that motivate and push while strengthening participants physically and mentally.
Of course, it also makes sense to experience Muay Thai—the ancient art of Thai martial arts combat—while in Thailand, and boxing classes are hugely popular with men and women (Thai and non-Thai alike).
But health is about both the body and the mind, so make sure to de-stress once in a while at one of Bangkok’s innumerable luxury spas and/or neighbourhood massage shops. It may seem like an indulgence, but the health benefits are profound.
Food for Thought
Even if you can’t make time to exercise regularly, or unwind with a therapeutic massage, one thing you can do that will affect your well-being immensely is to eat better. Bangkok has many restaurants that are trying to offer an alternative to the meat-centric, sugar-soaked, fried-foods that populate most menus—both Thai and international—and some of them are downright delicious (see more on pg. 18). But you don’t have to go full-vegetarian in order to improve your food intake. Eating locally-sourced, sustainable food items is also better for you—and the environment—and some local restaurants are going out of their way to make these healthier options available (see pg. 20).
And even the more “sinful” indulgences of this world can be approached with a mind to health and wellness. About Eatery, on Sukhumvit Soi 21 (Soi 3), is a fantastic Mediterranean style bistro that specializes in natural, bio-dynamic, and organic wines, which not only taste better but also don’t leave you with a killer hangover the next morning. And those with a sweet tooth will love Veganerie Concept on Sukhumvit Soi 24. Apart from delectable plant-based savoury dishes, the team here whips up a steady stream of divinely decadent desserts that will leave you staring in disbelief—trying to figure out how they can possibly be 100 percent vegan.
By Bruce Scott