Laos – Tar’s gym, Vientaine

Location: Tar’s gym, Ban Oupmung, Vientiane, Laos

Website: Facebook
Opening hours: 9am to 9pm
Price: 10,000 kip (approx £1)

Review: Tar’s gym seems to be something of an institution in Vientiane. The message boards on Trip Advisor and other traveller’s forums all tell tales of this funky but basic gym, built in what looks like a family home. Despite the new wave of fitness clubs and gyms that seem to be slowly taking over Laos, Tar’s maintains it authenticity and down right weirdness.

The gym is apparently owned by a local bodybuilder, but sadly I didn’t get to meet him whilst I was there. The gym has everything you could hope for and its unusual setting makes it an experience. Much of the equipment is in front porch, meaning I was deadlifting with people walking past on the curb a few feet away.

Equipment wise this gym has:

  • Dumbbells up to 30kg
  • Adjustable benches
  • Flat barbell bench bench
  • Squat rack
  • Olympic bars
  • Smith machines 2
  • Cables x 3
  • Chest press machine
  • Pec dec
  • Lat pulldown
  • Easy bars
  • Preacher curl bench
  • Lat pulldown machine
  • Tricep pushdown machine
  • T bar row machine
  • Standing squat machine
  • Low row machine
  • Wide grip row machine
  • Leg curl machine
  • Leg press machine
  • Leg extension machine
  • Exercise bikes
  • Treadmills

Entry on a day pass was 10,000 Kip (approx £1) making it perfect for backpackers on a budget. It cost 1000 Kip to rent a for towel and 5000 Kip for a large bottle of water.

Weirdly, this is another gym with a full size DRESSER in it. Is this a trend in Asia? Remember the gym in Chiang Mai? What is this madness?

To be fair, this gym seems to be based in the owner’s house, and finding the right machine means wandering through the various rooms like you are at some kind of weird house party full of sweaty grunting me.

This is also another gym which seems to have opted for a tiled floor approach downstairs, which is strange given how little tiles appreciate having weights dropped on them. I managed to hit a trip PB with a 130kg deadlift, which isn’t too bad bearing in mind I am down to under 70kg in bodyweight. I also had to control the decent very carefully to avoid demolishing the poor owners porch tiles, meaning I ended up doing negative reps.

As opposed to the Sotsai gym, this gym was all men. This did make me wonder if yesterday I committed a huge faux par and accidentally trained in a women’s only gym. I do have long hair, so maybe they just thought I was a really ugly women. Its happened before you know. No, not really. Whats wrong with you?
The gym also has a little supplement shoo selling protein, amino acids, pre-workout and weight gainer in tubs. This is a good find, as supplements seem a little rare in Laos, although do seem to sell them in some of the larger pharmacies here.

Who is this gym for? Whilst there was a nice vibe and friendly locals here, I would probably only recommend this gym to guys, because there are much better places for women to train that are pretty close by. See my next post for details of the gym I would recommend. Training in Tar’s is somewhat of a right of passage in Vientiane, so head down there and see what you think.

Tips? There is a really good selection of machines for training back muscles in this gym, so I would strongly recommend training back day here.

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