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Get to Know Series: Andrew “Woody” Wood

Get to Know Series Episode 5: Andrew “Woody” Wood Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA

Sometimes in life, the way forward needs to be forged anew, not followed – and such was the case for Andrew ‘Woody’ Wood. The myriad twists and turns of life on such a path taught Woody lessons and skills a more tailored approach would not have, and his eagerness to learn and absorb allowed him to make the most of those unseen opportunities. This is why Woody has crafted something special that the combat sports world craved and subsequently found his own niche. It’s also why he is now one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in combat sports.

A young Coach Wood, before growing out the golden locks

Fast-forward nearly two decades, and Woody is now a co-owner at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA and the head S&C coach here too.

Born in Edinburgh, Woody’s family migrated to a small town north of Liverpool on the train line for his Dad’s work. At age 12 he took up rugby, and by then it was all he wanted to do. Woody loved everything the sport had to offer but admits that he hit a ceiling. As he recalls,

“It’s very hard to become a professional in the UK. I made it to the highest league of the amateurs, so I was on a feeder team hoping to go pro.”

However, the universe had different plans for Woody, who would reach his physical peak too late for trials. He called himself a ‘late bloomer’ but reflects fondly on his rugby days.

“Traveling the country, competing, those were some of the best days of my life.”

His passion for the sport and commitment to fitness naturally led him to strength and conditioning. Growing up a big fan of the brawny action heroes of the 80s and 90s like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Van Damme, with their sculpted physiques, inspired Woody to start pumping iron. This evolved into pursuing an education in sports science.

Looking to stay in shape between seasons, Woody decided to try boxing. He was a natural and loved the combat aspect combined with the athleticism. His friend was training Muay Thai at the same time and invited him to try it too. This was back in 2005 when Muay Thai was only just starting to gain popularity. Almost immediately, Woody was hooked. He saw on TV that people actually traveled to Thailand to train and do fight camps. So he went out on a limb and booked himself a ticket abroad. Back then, Tiger Muay Thai was the first gym to pop up on Google, and so off he went.

Woody played a key role as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Ultimate Fighter: Team Volkanovski vs. Team Ortega
Woody played a key role as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Ultimate Fighter: Team Volkanovski vs. Team Ortega

It was only for five months, but the trip and the people he met left a lasting impression on Woody. He didn’t return until 2010 but used the time away efficiently, earning his S&C certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), among others. His expertise and understanding of athletes earned him the opportunity to shadow a professional rugby team, marking his first experience training professional athletes.

“That was my goal: If I wasn’t going to be a professional rugby player, then I wanted to work with professional rugby players.”

But fate had a different direction in mind for Woody when Muay Thai fighter Ric Barnhill asked Woody to coach him for a reality TV series called Enfusion. It was an 18-man tournament based in Koh Samui. For Woody, this marked his first foray into working with combat sports athletes.

“I really enjoyed that, the one-on-one thing.”

Andrew Wood, strength and conditioning coach for Tiger Muay thai trials
Woody in “Peak” Physical Condition

In 2010, Woody decided to head back to Thailand to keep up with his Muay Thai training and get a few more fights in. It was then that the current Managing Director of Bangtao, Will Elliot, who was working at Tiger at the time, asked Woody to step in and cover a few S&C classes. Although Woody enjoyed the experience, he wasn’t ready to commit to settling in Thailand as yet.

Despite his relatively brief time in Thailand, Woody made a lasting impression on the people he met, paving the way for his eventual return. One of those connections was Mark Mariani. Together, they got affiliated with Training for Warriors, founded by Mark Rooney, which was leading the way in S&C training for MMA fighters. The two began working together in Rawai, and the fighters just started pouring in.

“Before us, it was just general fitness. We were the first to do it in Phuket.”

From 2012 to 2014, Woody and Mark revolutionized the fight game in Phuket. Top fighters like Mairbek Taisumov, Zubaira Tukhugov, and Roger Huerta asked them to train them. Woody was even invited to accompany the trio to UFC Fight Night 53 in Sweden. The pair’s strides left a huge mark on the MMA community, not just in Phuket but worldwide.

Andrew Wood trains two-time UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket Thailand
Woody has helped Weili Zhang, two-time UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion, prepare for numerous title fights

It’s hard to put into words unless you’ve met Woody, but he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever encounter – a trait that goes a long way in life, especially in combat sports. He’s the guy who can make jokes when the fighter needs to laugh, he’s serious when it’s time to be serious, and he’s the guy in your corner who’ll always have your back.

In 2014, Woody was offered a full-time position at Tiger Muay Thai. By this time, his rugby and fighting days were far behind him. Woody was now dedicating one hundred percent of his time to being an S&C coach for professional fighters. It was a rewarding path but not an easy one.

“The thing is, not a lot of people see what goes on behind the scenes. They don’t see the amount of hard work that goes in from the fighter, the coaches, and everyone on the team. Sometimes, the fighter can’t train till 8 p.m., so you forget about your dinner and train them. It’s little things like that.”

Woody stayed at Tiger until 2021 when he left, together with the Hickman Brothers and Alex Schild, to take a massive leap of faith and open what is now Bangtao. As Woody recalls, “We didn’t have a pot to piss in.” But they did it, and so far the gym has surpassed any expectations they had. Though these last few years have gone by in a flash, everything they’ve achieved so far has been built on decades of persistent dedication.

“Our coaching pulled everyone in. I was quietly confident, you know, it was one of those ‘if they build it, they will come’ type of deals. But I didn’t think it would get this big so quickly. We just had good people around us, and we had what it takes to make a good gym.”

Heavyweight Siamese Boxing : Sloppy Balboa vs Ramsapp Twopollo Creed
Heavyweight Siamese Boxing : Sloppy Balboa vs Ramsapp Twopollo Creed

Woody heads up the S&C and Combat conditioning programs at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA. Book Now and train with Andrew Wood at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, Thailand! Woody is also available for privates, please check with our front office at for availability.