With the 2013 National Rugby League season only months away, and with just two weeks of Christmas break, four of Australia’s toughest athletes made their way to Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp Phuket, Thailand for prepare and condition themselves.
“We’re expected to come back in good condition so I was expecting to do a little bit of training but this whole thing has been another level for me,” said Willie Tonga, a 29-year-old rugby league player for the Paramatta Eels.
Tonga, Sandor Earl of the Canberra Raiders, and Moey Alhaje of the rugby league premiership, were asked by their friend Reni Maitua, also of the Paramatta Eels, to join him on his return trip to the island and get fit for the upcoming six-month season. Even the Australian press took notice.
“It’s my third time back, I love it here,” Maitua said, “Training with other professionals who do other sports, you take a bit of everything and find what motivates them, keeps them going, inspires them. I love the people here, I love the culture, and I love the training.”
Both Tonga and Maitua had high praise for the CrossFit style and BodyFit workouts presented by TMT’s Kitty Teppo, Ocean Bloom, and others. Several of the workouts involve trips to Big Buddha, Promthep Cape, and Nai Harn beach.
“I gained a new appreciation for those trainers, that’s something I haven’t done much of. The stuff that they do sort of blows me away,” Tonga said.
With another six-week of pre-season training before the NRL season gets underway, the boys think they have succeeded in preparing their bodies for the bashing it takes on a regular basis in the sport.
The training that Tonga, Earl, Maitua, and Alhaje have done at TMT included everything from Muay Thai to wrestling to CrossFit style workouts and even yoga.
The commitment the players have seen at TMT even surprised Tonga
“We arrived on the 24th (of December) so we wake up Christmas day, went for a run, and I come here to yoga and see all those people on Christmas day from all over the world. They come here for the same reason that we have,” Tonga said.
What keeps Maitua specifically coming back is the hospitality of the Thai people, especially the Thai trainers who, compared to trainers in industrially developed countries, do not have as much.
“Just watching the Thai trainers, the way they live, and how hard hey work, it gives you more an appreciation of how easy we have it in life than them,” Maitua said. “That is what keeps me coming back, no matter how hard they work they always got a smile on their face.”