Hard-hitting and time-efficient exercise regimes are taking over Cambodia, ensuring plenty of options for those looking to boost their health and get fit. Writing by Joanna Mayhew; photography by Charles Fox.
Before sunrise, at Phnom Penh’s Vietnamese Monument, a small group equipped with mats, water and towels gather in a semi-circle on the rusty red tiles. At a time when most are sleeping, save the monks chanting over the nearby wat’s loudspeaker, the seven members—led by a trainer and motivational music from a smartphone—begin planking and two-step dashing in quick succession. Ponytails fly, grunting steps up a notch and breaths shorten, as the moves pile on at a manic pace.
This is Metafit bodyweight training—a 30-minute metabolic workout designed to last a full day. The class is part of a growing number of niche fitness offerings invading the capital that focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—involving fast-paced, short periods of intense anaerobic exercise interspersed with less-gruelling recovery periods. The interval training regimes have become a global craze in the last few years, and the trend is now catching on in the Kingdom. This includes CrossFit, Insanity and Metafit training–all new to Cambodia–along with upgrades to traditional high-intensity workouts like boxing.
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