Going to the Gym in Japan

Going to the gym or becoming a gym member has many rewards in and of itself.  From getting your body in shape, trying out new exercise equipment, dipping in the pool, making new friends, or joining exercise groups there is always something for everyone to do at the gym.  The Japanese love hanging out at the gym as much as most other countries.  You can find them quite easily in Japan and some are open 24 hours a day.  They are truly enjoyable in multiple ways with only slight differences.


shusso on Flickr

With the popularity of exercise growing in Japan, and more people becoming gym members, international gym companies like Gold’s Gym have recently opened in Tokyo and Osaka.  Four new Gold’s Gyms opened in the Kanto area just last month.  There will be the same kinds of equipment and a few Japanese technologies like an automatic water bottle filler.

You will need to bring appropriate footwear.  At these gyms you will be expected to bring two pairs of shoes: the ones you first had on your feet and ones will exercise in.  You will change into your exercise shoes and leave your personal shoes in the locker room.  Once you enter, you must take them off and are not allowed to walk on the floor or even set them on the benches.  After that you can only put them back on once you exit the locker room.  (Pretty strict right?)


Monika Hoinkis on Flickr

In fact the locker room one of the biggest differences between Japan’s gyms and the rest of the world’s.  Of course there are showers and lockers to use, but most gyms will have also have their own Japanese-style hot spring and sauna.  After a hard workout, you will be able to relax your muscles in the hot water or improve circulation in the hot sauna room.  Of course, you will be required to follow the same Japanese onsen etiquette when soaking in such as entering completely naked, bringing a small towel, and showering thoroughly before soaking in the water.     


clkao on Flickr


Garen M. on Flickr

The weights for powerlifting will be limited.  Unlike the American gyms I’ve been to which had a variety of dumbbell sets, ranging from a light 4 lbs (2 kg) to a heavy 100 lbs (45 kg) the Japanese don’t seem to lift as heavy of weights and prefer lighter ones.  The heaviest I saw was only 30 kg (about 66 lbs)!

Familiar fitness equipment will be available and easy to use.  Equipment like bench presses, squat stations, lat pull down machines, leg extension machines, treadmills, electric bikes, and stair climbers.  Each has instructions for how to use them.  Even if you cannot read Japanese, do not fear, they will still be easy to use and sometimes come with English instructions if you never have exercised with them before.  Staff are available on-hand to assist you if you are using the equipment incorrectly.  While you burn calories on the electric bikes, you can enjoy watching Japanese cable TV.  The equipment is suitable for giving you multiple choices to tone your body.

Membership will be more required at a Japanese gym unlike American ones that allow you to enter even if you are not one.  Japanese gyms are big enough to fit members only so most will not allow you to enter the gym without membership even just to look around.  Luckily, you can easily sign up and find a plan that works best.


Sonia Belviso on Flickr

The gym is a great place for meeting, exercising, or just relaxing in the sauna.  They have whatever can help you get in shape and plenty of help and support until you get there.  When you register, be sure to join one of the many exercise groups available, they will gladly exercise together with you.

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