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Staying fit in Bangkok isn’t easy. Liquid calories come in many forms, and with significantly more holidays than months in a year, there always seems to be a good reason to imbibe them. Even if you set out to stay in shape, the city puts up quite a fight to keep you at your desk, on your bar stool and in your bed.
Last time there was a census on green space in the city, the report opted to count traffic islands and roundabouts in order to make the number slightly less depressing. Limited park opening hours, scorching hot weather during the day and long commutes add to the challenge of finding the time and space to commit yourself to a healthier lifestyle in the city.
Not all hope is lost though. The good fight is being fought by 24-hour gyms, grass roots aerobics classes and high end fitness clubs where you can rid yourself of extra weight around your waist and in your wallet. Whether you just want to maintain your fitness routine during a short stay in Bangkok or are looking for a feasible way to transform your lifestyle, this guide shows you what options are available.
- 1 Free Fitness Options
- 2 Gyms and Sports Clubs
- 3 Running
- 4 Swimming
- 5 Cycling
- 6 Yoga
- 7 Muay Thai
- 8 Other Options
- 9 Physiotherapy
- 10 Your Questions?
- 11 Support Us
- 12 What to Read Next
While it’s impossible to cover all neighborhoods and activities in the city, I picked out options for a range of budgets, interests and locations that should provide you with a good starting point. Where available, I linked to more specialized websites that contain a lot more in-depth details for specific sports.
If you are getting serious about staying fit, I would recommend you seek help from a professional trainer, at least a few times. Not only do they design workout and nutrition programs based on your personal goals, they also make sure your exercise form is correct, helping you build muscle faster without increasing your risk of getting injured in the long run.
Free Fitness Options
Even though Thailand is a lot cheaper than many European and North American countries many ways, gyms isn’t one of them. Monthly memberships in popular gyms frequently surpass what I would pay back home in Germany.
Every so often though, budget options and real bargains spring up. If you don’t mind putting up with a bit of a commute, you can get access to top class facilities, some for free and some for about $1.10 a year. If you want to find out how, get Thailand Starter Kit: Save Cash, Land a Job, Avoid Pitfalls, and More.
While Bangkok doesn’t have a lot of parks, there are a few options that allow for decent workouts, especially before 7am or after 5pm (that is, if you don’t mind the national-anthem-standing-still interruption at 6pm sharp). Parks open as early as 4.30am with the last ones closing down at 9pm.
A lot of parks offer running tracks (see below for recommended loops), some even allow cycling (not a given). Larger parks tend to have free workout equipment, though it’s more geared towards people trying to maintain mobility, rather than those who are looking for weight lifting or cardio workouts..
The open air aerobics classes you see throughout Bangkok’s parks every evening from around 5pm onwards are a great budget alternative to subscription-based gyms. It can be a bit intimidating to join these classes as the only foreigner, but Gaby Domain wrote down her own account which makes it seem a little less scary. Sometimes local supermarkets also have an aerobics meetup.
Less eye- and ear-catching are Tai Chi groups meeting in the morning, as well as various other groups in the evening – including a ballroom dancing group that meets at night in Lumpini park (which features the biggest selection of free open air classes). Most of the activities you can discover by going for a stroll at the right time through the park – cardio activities are usually in the evening, while everything focused on mobility, flexibility and spiritual well-being in any form is more of a 5am to 7am activity.
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Home Sweet Home
A lot of apartment buildings in Bangkok offer fitness facilities that can be used free of charge by the residents. Usually those are of similar quality to what you find at a hotel gym: some dumbbells, resistance training machines, as well as some cardio machines. You can check out my guide to renting in Bangkok for some help on finding a place that offers fitness facilities.
If your place doesn’t have a gym, one of your friends might have access to one at their building and can take you along. Lots of people would love to have a workout partner to keep them accountable (plus, it’s more fun). Ask around on Facebook and you might be surprised who’s up for regular non-boozing activity.
If all else fails, there are also YouTube workout programs that require little to no equipment. Friends of mine swear by the fitness workouts from Shelly Dose, Scooby the ‘German’ Bodybuilder and FitnessBlender. Other workouts include Yoga with Adriene and Do Yoga With Me, which the subscribers at /r/Fitness recommend.
Gyms and Sports Clubs
Bangkok’s gyms and sports club tend to fall into different segments. The sports clubs tend to be more exclusive, though prices start from what you would pay for one of all the mall gyms.
On the cardio front, things are pretty straight forward. Don’t do anything that hurts. Otherwise things are pretty self-explanatory. If you’re just starting out with resistance training or lifting weights, I’d recommend starting off with a personal trainer to set up a workout and check that your form is alright. It’s not cheap, but still a lot better than risking serious injury. Once you got the hang of it, you can train on your own.
Pumping Iron and Doing Some Cardio
Cheap workout facilities tend to be the various small-scale indoor and outdoor gyms scattered throughout the city. Good for doing free weight workouts or using some cardio machines, these are a decent upgrade over your own building’s or hotel’s facilities. There will be plenty of treadmills, elliptical machines, barbells, dumbbells, squat racks and similar equipment.
Indoor gyms usually come with showers and lockers and are often located in townhouses near residential areas. The cheaper options will be without air condition or even outdoors (‘jungle gyms’), so be prepared to get a good sweat going.
Depending on location, prices tend to vary between THB 100 and THB 400 for one day. These kind of gyms also make up the majority of places that offer day passes (see below for a complete list). Monthly prices tend to be between THB 700 and THB 2,000.
The easiest way to find a gym in this category is to ask the local motorcycle taxis in your street for ‘fitness’ (the ‘Thai’ pronunciation ‘fitned’ might work better). In addition, you can check the day pass gym listing below. Most of them fall into this category. There are a few budget chains like Fitness 7 and Tony’s (which offers an amazing deal on a yearly membership), but most of them are single-branch gyms.
Attending Classes and Enjoying the Juice Bar
A step up are the chain fitness studios you’ll find throughout the city in nearly every mall and a number of office buildings. Their main draw is usually a wealth of trainer-led classes (Bodycombat is particularly popular at the moment) and a slightly more upscale workout area. In terms of equipment, they are usually on par or even nicer with what you would expect to find back home.
There’s a sliding scale in terms of prices, crowds and facilities. Yearly memberships start from around THB 2,000 a month (classes are included, trainers are extra). Few of them offer memberships for time periods of less than 5 months. If you are able to commit for longer than a year, rates drop to less than THB 1,500 / month.
Exceptions are 3 to 30-day trial periods (specifically not available for tourists) that tend to be available once per chain for residents. The 3-day periods you can always get on their website. 7-days are offered frequently though not as prominently. Longer ones tend to be special offers: a few months ago you could get a 1-month membership at We Fitness Society by buying four bottles of Meji Whey Protein Milk at 7-Eleven for THB 49 / bottle).
Another option are promotional offers on sites like Ensogo where you can frequently sign up for a single month for about THB 2,000 (Fitness First tends to be regularly featured there).
If you come in for a trial, they usually try to sell you a subscription before you even start your trial. It’s not uncommon to hear about a promotion that’s only available on that day (hint: it isn’t). Tell them you’d like to try the facilities first and they’ll leave you alone soon enough. The most important point though is to negotiate: You can usually get off 20% of the published rate.
Fitness chains with multiple branches throughout Bangkok in this category include True Fitness and Virgin Active. There are a number of upscale, single-branch clubs scattered throughout town that tend to be less crowded. One of them is the Cascade Club at The Ascott Sathorn which offers a decent deal on weekend memberships for THB 2,000 per month (though there’s a THB 8,500 joining fee).
If you are really only looking to join classes or travel a lot, you can also check out GuavaPass. It’s a month-by-month subscription that allows you to join the classes of any of their partners. While I haven’t seen the biggest fitness chains on it, there’s a lot of smaller, independent and higher-end gyms in Bangkok that are part of it. Offered programs range from AquaBiking and Crossfit to Yoga and Zumba. Downside is that you are not able to attend the same class more than three times per month (in some cases you can only attend once). Gyms use it as a marketing tool and will try hard to upsell you when you come in on a GuavaPass.
There are a number of gyms which don’t quite fit in other categories. Some of them focus on personal-trainer sessions while others incorporate a strong focus on nutrition and have on-site health-food restaurants like Design Your Body (you can see part of their menu on foodpanda). Usually a bit smaller and pricier than their mall counterparts, they advertise themselves as providing more individualized attention and training. Design Your Body is also one of a few gyms providing an online personal program from their head fitness consultant.
Another option are the sports clubs scattered throughout the city. Whether it’s air-conditioned badminton courts or Olympic-sized swimming pools, if you want to explore fitness options beyond running, cycling and weight lifting in comfort, you’ll find them here.
Monthly prices start around what you would pay for a nice gym. However, joining fees vary and can go into the tens thousands (that’s dollars) if you want to become a voting member at one of the most exclusive places.
The Racquet Club
In terms of fitness, The Racquet Club is a good deal: THB 1783.33 per month for a yearly membership gives you not only access to a 25m pool, but to their entire range of facilities, including a gym, badminton, squash, and – as the name implies – racquet courts.
The British Club
One of the oldest clubs in Bangkok, The British Club offers a very good sports club option downtown in Silom 18. Originally started as a club for British and later on Commonwealth citizens, it’s now open to all. Prices start from a very competitive THB 17,469 for the first year for a single member below the age of 30.
The Royal Bangkok Sports Club and The RSBC Polo Club
The most exclusive, closed sports clubs in Bangkok that also offer the nicest facilities in the city. Unless you get personally endorsed by an existing member and are ready to put down the substantial sign-up fees, you won’t be able to join either of them.
Basic indoor and outdoor gyms in Bangkok usually don’t have their own trainers on payroll and tend to allow you to bring your own. You do have the option though of asking the staff and they’ll point you towards one of their regulars who does personal training on the side. It’s cheaper than other options (plan for around THB 700 per hour), but the trainers might not always have a professional background in training others or speak very limited English.
Alternatively you can contact Fitthai (they do trainer certifications) or ask on Bangkok Expats for certified trainer recommendations. Expect to pay about THB 1,500 per hour in that case. Independently hired trainers can join you at an ordinary gym or even at your condo’s fitness room. An advantage of going this route is that you are much more likely to find a trainer who’s fluent in English.
Fitness chains you find in malls tend to have their own trainers on staff and usually don’t allow you to bring in outside trainers. Depending on the gym, they might do a lot of hard-selling for personal trainer packages. Best make up your mind before you go about whether you really need one to avoid buying into something you don’t really want.
There are also some gyms that focus mostly on trainer-based workouts. Aspire right next to the Asoke skytrain station is one of them. It is a premium fitness club with flexible training programs, tailored to your workout goals by certified international training experts. Private fitness facilities, exclusive training programs, and CrossFit gym are also offered here. Prices start from 600 – 6,000 THB a month. The personal trainer who helped me design the exercise program I used when I lost 10kg in 100 days, Jamal Younis, currently works there.
It’s not the cheapest workout option, but it’s a great way to get started, set you up with a program that works and make sure you don’t cause any damage when you start out with lifting weights. While I currently train on my own, that workout is still based on what I learned from Jamal a few years back.
You can find out more about this option from our specific personal trainer in Bangkok article.
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In recent years, Bangkok has experienced quite a boom in running. It’s gotten to the point where the most popular running routes actually become crowded during after-work hours. Running is also good for your own mental health. This boom also extends to races: if you’re competitive minded, there are now several shorter and longer races, including marathons, to choose from. While I used to be an avid runner a few years back, I’m now a bit out of the loop. My friend Chris Bickle helped me out a lot with the advice below (mistakes are all mine of course).
Tracks and Loops
The most well-known running tracks are located inside Lumpini Park (a 2.5km track), Benjakitti Park (1.8km), Wachirabenchathat Park (2.58km), and Chatuchak Park (3km). Due to their central locations, these parks are also among the busiest ones. There’s a number of alternative parks and stadiums scattered throughout the city that offer loops of similar and shorter length, which might be more conveniently located for you.
Since training for a marathon isn’t that fun on a 2.5km track, it might be worth heading out a bit further for your longer runs.
Rama 9 Park offers a 5km loop with lot of corners, features and well manicured gardens. You can even link it with the 4km loop in Nong Bon Park (or the ‘Nong Bon Swamp Park’ as Google Maps calls it…). If you don’t mind backtracking, it can be extended to become a nearly 15km long route.
Bangkok’s ‘green lung’, Bang Krachao is another option for long-distance runners or athletes in search of scenery. Mostly known for cycling, it features a 14km loop that can be done by runners just as well.
In addition, there are various khlong-based routes and back alleys that would be impractical to describe in specifics. The best way to discover those is to join a running club (see below). Not only will you get to exercise and do some urban sightseeing, but also meet like-minded runners.
Bangkok Runners is a large group of primarily foreigners who run regularly in Lumpini Park and Benjakitti Park. In addition, they do runs through Bang Krachao, BTS line runs, and the above described routes through back alleys and along canals. Aside from Bangkok, they also do trips out to places like Khao Kheow and Khao Mai Keao for trail runs.
Hash House Harriers also has a chapter in Bangkok. They tend to go for runs every Monday, followed by a calorie-replenishing beer-drinking and socializing session. The after-run beer is included in the running fee (THB 200 for men, THB 150 for women).
Similar to other sports, running has become a lot more popular in recent years. If you want to take part in a race, you should sign-up early as especially the bigger races tend to sell out quickly. While some experienced runners argue that the best races are to be found outside of Bangkok, the city offers a number of interesting competitions. There is the Thai Sikh Run in March, the Supersports 10 Mile International Run in July, the Bangkok 10km International Run in October, the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon in November, as well as a host of other smaller runs scattered throughout the year that can be found on sites like Amazing Field, Gotorace, Jog And Joy, Run Thailand and the huge Facebook group WingNaiDee: Running Event (they also have a website with additional details).
A lot of the mid- and high-end apartment buildings come with swimming pools, some come well maintained, some come in colors suggesting they are capable of photosynthesis.
Free swims aside (you probably don’t want to open that link at work), the cheapest swimming pools are to be found at Benjasiri Park, Lumpini Park and at the Thai Japanese Youth Center (Olympic-sized). At THB 40 per year, they are a steal (though some charge a per visit fee as well). Come prepared though since they require some documents and a medical certificate. See the as-good-as-free section above for additional details on these places.
A fancier indoor option with more liberal opening hours are the Virgin Active gyms at EmQuartier and Empire Tower that come with 20m swimming pools (their branch at West Gate doesn’t have one). Depending on the club and duration of your membership, you’ll pay roughly THB 3,000 per month for access.
If you don’t have time to sign-up for the Youth Centers and just want to use a pool during a short stay in the city, the following places offer 1-day passes.
|Pathumwan Princess Hotel||฿642||BTS National Stadium (map)|
|Marriott Executive Apartments||฿600||BTS Phrom Phong (map)|
|Evergreen Service Apartment||฿350||BTS Ratchathewi (map)|
Over the last years, cycling has gained a lot of popularity. Whether that’s part of the general fitness boom or due to them shaving off an hour of some people’s commute I’m not sure. Websites like Bicycle Thailand cater to dedicated cyclists by covering the best bicycle shops, tour operators and routes, as well as keeping a list of bicycle blogs in Thailand. For those in need of a quick run down on scenic and performance routes as well as bicycle groups you can join, I compiled a quick overview below.
If you’re serious about your cycling, you should check out the 23km green cycle track at Suvarnabhumi Airport (Richard Barrow has some additional details on best times to go and what to bring). For track cyclists, there’s the free Hua Mark Velodrome at Rajamangala National Stadium Ramkhamhaeng. The Peppermint Bike Park is your best bet in Bangkok if you want to give your mountain bike a spin (or one of the rental ones at THB 100 per hour). You can find additional details for these places on the FindYourSpace blog, including opening hours and admission fees.
If scenery trumps training, you might want to get off the beaten track so to speak. My friend Thomas Wanhoff shared a few good routes around the city that not only let you rack up some kilometers but also give you something to see around town. Here are his favorite ones:
A 40km route winds through the swamps south of the Suvarnabhumi Airport runway. Parts are on streets, parts are on concrete paths, and you can watch planes landing and storks breeding. The course can be modified somewhere around Thana Place King Kaeo Village, which gives a few more sois and pathways to explore.
A 50km route starting from BTS Bearing takes you through small villages all the way down to the seaside. have a stop at Bang Poo and feed the seagulls there. If you go on a weekend, stop at Wat Bang Bang Phli Yai Nai at the old market.
Another 50km of cycling also starts at BTS Bearing and goes to the ‘green lung’ Bang Krachao and finally to Soi Suksawat where an old Muslim community is located. At Wat Bangna Nok, you take a 10 minute ferry ride to the other side of the Chao Praya river. If you go on a weekend, be sure to stop at the Bang Nam Phun Floating market.
While there’s no specific expat cycling clubs, the Thailand Cycling Club (TCC) provides some information in English. Most of their events are announced on their Facebook page (Thai). A number of Twitter users get out on a regular basis; a search there can also find you some biking buddies. Another option to find co-cyclists is to check the Thaivisa cycling forum.
Of the more ‘spiritual’ work out options, yoga definitely seems to be the most famous in Bangkok. There certainly isn’t a shortage of offers. Prices for drop-in classes start from around THB 400 at dedicated studios.
An exception is the Bangkok Farmer’s Market Community Yoga and a number of yoga groups on meetup.com, which tend to be donation-based (though a minimum of THB 100 per class is expected).
If you’re a regular yogi, you can get a better deal with monthly subscriptions. A good way to find the latest offers is YogaTrail. The app was created by a Chiang Mai-based startup of a friend of mine and allows you to track down yoga classes near you. YogaTrail lists and ranks approximately 100 teachers and 20 studios in and around Bangkok and allows you to filter by yoga style and skill level.
Several of the nicer gyms mentioned above also run regular yoga classes which allows you to combine yoga with other classes and workouts at a price lower than what the specialized yoga studios offer.
I myself am quite happy with the Basic Hatha Yoga classes offered by WeFitness, though that’s admittedly mostly because of the convenience of their location. Another specific place recommended by a friend of mine who runs Planet Backpack is Yoga Elements.
Bangkokians interested in Muay Thai range from people who just look for a nice workout to those who are serious about improving their Muay Thai skills, and those looking to fight competitively. Different gyms cater to different clientele, and there are a lot of places where you’ll see a mixed crowd.
Gyms that are considered to be newbie- and foreign-friendly are often more expensive. You can sometimes find trials for them on Ensogo, but as is so often the case in Bangkok, other channels (or asking them directly) can result in even better deals. In the past, their clientele was more ‘Muay Thai tourists’ though now it’s shifting a bit more to incorporate the ‘office worker’ crowd of Bangkok looking for a good workout.
On the other hand, most of the serious places let you train free if you are serious and will fight for them, but it may take a few months to get to that point. As a newbie though, the first few weeks there can be very intimidating.
The following places were recommended to me by friends who visit Muay Thai gyms to do an intensive workout:
- Fighting Spirit: A well-known, very affordable gym located in Silom. You pay THB 400 per session which usually entails a warm up, body weight exercises, training with a sand bag and boxing. A good part of the training is 1-on-1 with a trainer. Sessions last about 90 to 120 minutes. Aside from the above mentioned single session ‘fitness’ workouts, this gym offers a monthly subscription (THB 5,000) or one step up, on-site accommodation for those more serious about training. It’s one of the more foreigner and newbie-friendly places where you can train in a more casual manner.
- Kru Dam: Popular with the BTS crowd, their most well-known branch is conveniently located on Sukhumvit 24 (with additional branches scattered throughout town and other provinces). ‘Fitness’ training sessions are usually 2 to 3 people with 1 trainer and are less focused on boxing (you’ll do a lot of sit-ups). One session is listed as THB 550 on their website, but they sometimes run promotions on Ensogo and other websites for discounts of up to 50%.
- Chacrit Muay Thai School: This school has been recommended by a friend who enjoys doing after-work evening workouts there. Located on Sukhumvit 39 it’s not too far from Asoke and Thong Lor. Walk-ins are THB 800 per hour, a 15 session pass costs THB 6,000 (valid for three months). In general, this school is more Muay Boran (‘a type of boxing that is more focused on old school methods like climbing up on another and elbow each other in the head’ as a friend of mine put it).
You could always explore your neighborhood and see what’s in the area to find a more convenient place if you just want a cheap and intensive workout. If you don’t speak Thai, maybe bring someone along to help translate the first time you go in order to avoid painful misunderstandings.
Even though a lot of the serious fighting gyms are located outside of Bangkok, the city has its own fair share of well-known names. Some of them are more foreigner- and newbie-friendly, others expect you to know the training routines and code of conduct before signing up.
The following places were recommended by some of my friends who are more serious about Muay Thai fighting.
- Master Toddy: A famous gym that’s more popular with Western and casual fighters, less intimidating if you’re serious about fighting and still fairly new to the scene. Potentially a good starting point before you head off to gyms where a lot of Thailand-specific know-how is assumed and expected.
- Muaythai Sasiprapa: Legendary gym for those serious about fighting that has been around for a long time. While accommodation isn’t offered on site, the gym is located in a residential area and you should be able to find a place stay nearby. Prices for a trainer range from THB 6,000 / month (single session per day) to THB 12,000 / month (twice a day).
- Sangtiennoi: Another legendary fighting gym that was set up by the famous ‘The Deadly Kisser‘. With a list price of THB 1,500 per day, it reflects the gym’s reputation (and potentially that only people new to Thailand would take the website price at face value).
- Fairtex: High end, famous and at THB 850 per hour, not exactly cheap. It’s located a bit further out in Bangplee, Samut Prakarn. You can check out their promo video for an idea what the facilities look like.
Few fitness options are as controversial as Muay Thai. People just don’t get into fights (ba-dum-tsh!) over whether Lumpini or Benjakitti is the better running loop. The Muay Thai gyms and schools above are provided as a starting point. You find additional resources and, more importantly, opinions below.
Buying Fitness Equipment
Most department stores in Bangkok have sporting goods zones with common exercise equipment available including dumbbells, yoga mats, strength
equipment, and cardio equipment. Even more equipment is available in the dedicated sporting goods stores like FBT.
You can also buy fitness equipment online. My personal favourite store is Lazada. They have over 100,000 health related products available on
the site, including fitness equipment and nutritional supplements. Lazada usually delivers within a few days.
Nutrition control and exercise go together. In addition to buying meals from food stalls and super markets, you can order from several delivery services such as Food Panda, LINEMAN, and even uberEATs.
Options for buying fresh products online are more limited. I usually order from HappyFresh. Although their prices can be more expensive than
others, they can deliver fresh products to you within an hour, with the option to schedule the delivery time.
If you’re interested in the more professional side of things, my Muay Thai friends recommend you read up on the inside story on sites like Muay Thai Pros, Muay Thai Scholar, My Muay Thai and Muay Thai Camps Thailand. Other sites that I see endorsed include Muay Thai Guy and Muay Thai Focus. One of the more popular and controversial sites is Sylvie’s blog 8LimbsUs.
Aside from the mostly individual sports listed above, there’s a number of traditional team-based options in the city that go a bit beyond the scope of this article. Basketball, badminton and to a lesser degree, soccer can be played indoor and outdoor throughout the city. Google Maps is a good way to track down a court that might be just a few alleys away from your condo.
If you want to go local, you can give Sepak Takraw a try – popular with motorcycle taxi drivers, you can sometimes spot them playing after work in the back alleys of Bangkok.
Looking to mix it up a bit? Bangkok has assembled quite the number of more exotic exercise options. Table tennis aside, you can choose between trampolines, an artificial surfing wave, a wakeboarding lake, a parkour-based workout, several ice skating rinks, flag football, touch rugby, frisbee, field hockey, Gaelic football, ice hockey, aussie rules footy and even Tchoukball.
Just a quick word on those seeking some help working out with some restrictions: if you’re recovering from an injury or need to be careful when working out for any other reason, there are some gyms that work with physiotherapists. One gym I know of that does this (though I’ve never used the service) is Aspire.
If things are more acute, you can check out Bumrungrad International (I had a shoulder issue treated there last year by Dr. Poungploy), Samitivej and Siriraj Hospital (which I consulted a few years back on a knee injury).
While I researched hospitals and health insurance options in Thailand, my Thai friends recommended government-run Lerdsin Hospital in Silom for sports injuries. It can get quite busy, but the upside is that it’s quite central and cheaper than the private hospital alternatives.
The above recommendations aim to provide good starting points for all budgets, locations and preferences, but of course it’s impossible to list absolutely everything that’s available in Bangkok. If you want to know about any specific sport, club or location, please do feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out.
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