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Finding a half decent gym in Japan: A survival guide

79 Comments
By Mike, RocketNews24

Gyms in the United States and other Western countries have ballooned over time into all-encompassing, cavernous mega-structures that you can spend hours wandering around in without encountering another living human being. A good many of them are equipped with all the latest gear and machines, and sometimes even a five-ton tire placed there specifically in case The Rock decides to show up one day. It’s not hard, in other words, to find a gym that has everything you need for $50 a month.

Japanese gyms, on the other hand, are another story entirely. It’s not uncommon to get roped into an eye-bulging expensive membership at a place that looks great on the outside, only to walk in and find an empty room with a single 12-kg dumbbell collecting dust in the corner and a single octogenarian in spandex pants leering at you in the mirror.

Now, in my quest to find actual good gyms in Japan, I’ve been to somewhere in the ballpark of about 30 different locations throughout Tokyo and some surrounding regions. So, to save Japan newcomers (or long-term residents who’ve recently decided to get in shape) some hassle, here’s my survival guide for finding a decent gym in Japan:

Keep your fitness goals in mind

Knowing your own fitness routines and personal goals will help you choose the gym that’s right for you. Yeah, that sounds obvious, but a lot of gyms here can be severely lacking in the equipment department, while others don’t have swimming pools or classes or trainers who have any idea what they’re talking about, and others still may have basically everything except the specific gear you want to use. Later on, we’ll break down the three major types of gyms in Japan and what you can expect to find in each.

Determine your budget

Don’t expect to stroll into a place for a pay-as-you-go monthly membership. Almost all gyms require 6-to-12 month contracts upfront and there are all kinds of wacky extra charges. Generally, you can expect to pay something like 10,000 to 20,000 yen per month for a long-term membership. Luckily, if you’re only visiting for a week or so or don’t want to have to regularly skip meals just to offset gym fees, there are plenty of public gyms with pretty cheap single-visit options. And that brings us to…

Types of gyms

Broadly speaking, there are three common types of gyms. Here’s what kind of experience you can expect at each:

Private gyms catering to the general public: These are places like Esforta, Tipness, Renaissance, and Konami. If your main goal in the gym is to lift weights, you’re probably going to be disappointed by these locations. Sure, Tipness has a few locations with robust weight rooms, but they’re few and far between. Expect lots of cardio equipment, mostly cardio-focused fitness classes, maybe one to two benches that will always be occupied by two old guys sitting around chatting with each other, and just maybe a squat rack.

These gyms also tend to have a bunch of weird, draconian rules and trainers prone to programs that run from ineffective to possibly actually bad for you. They usually cost around 8,000 to 150,000 yen a month, and are perfect for cardio enthusiasts who might pick up a dumbbell occasionally and people primarily interested in a large variety of classes.

Public gyms: The biggest perk of Japan’s public gyms is that no membership is required. You typically pay somewhere between 300 and 500 yen a visit, and you can even get an additional discount if you’re a resident of the area. And the one big, big con? Well, these things are all over the place in terms of quality. Some are well-equipped gym rat utopias that sometimes even feature basketball courts, swimming pools and, no kidding, even sumo rings. Others might only have a handful of decrepit running machines and a couple of dumbbells.

Practically every city has one, and larger cities often have several, but it’s really just down to blind luck whether or not the public gym(s) in your area are any good (for example, all three of the gyms in Shinagawa suck, trust me). If you want to find your nearest public gym, just ask around for either a "kuritsu" gym (区立ジム) or the local Sports Center. Pro Tip: Avoid Minato-ku Sports Center at all costs. It may look nice on the inside, but it’s a crowded, overpriced nightmare. These gyms are perfect for frugal gym-goers, short-term visitors or anyone living near a really nice one.

Private gyms catering to hardcore weight lifters and bodybuilders: It’s pretty self-explanatory who these gyms are a good fit for, and basically include Gold’s Gym and a handful of solo operations peppered around the city. Gold’s Gym is the closest Japan has to a one-size-fits-all fitness haven and I would have just recommended it immediately and saved you from reading the last, like, bazillion words, but for the fact that it’s prohibitively expensive (about 16,500 yen a month for a basic membership) and certain locations may still be missing the gear you want. Other options include Endo’s Gym and King Platinum in Hiroo. You can do a search for “bodybuilding gym” (ボディビル ジム) in your area, but be aware some of the aforementioned gyms for the general public are going to sneak into the search results.

Final notes: In terms of actually going out and looking for a gym that suits you best, my advice is to at least check out the public gym(s) in your area first, since there’s a non-zero chance you’ll like it just fine and you’ll save yourself a whole bunch of money. Also, a Gold’s Gym membership entitles you to entry in their locations nationwide, while Tipness has a similar plan for an additional fee; something to keep in mind if you move around a lot.

Etiquette and what to expect

Literally every gym in Japan requires that you change from your outdoor shoes to shoes specifically for the gym. Don’t show up empty-handed, or you’ll be forced to rent a pair of indoor gym shoes for an added fee.

It’s frowned upon to show up more than five minutes late for a fitness class and they’ll often lock the doors outright around 15 minutes in.

Super-setting (going back and forth between two machines) is forbidden at most gyms, frowned upon in most others. Among those that do allow it, you may still find certain machines that are off-limits to this practice (the sign will read something like スーパーセット禁止).

Need a water break between sets? Bring a large towel and a water bottle. Drape the towel over the bench or on the machine you’re using whenever you need to walk away for a few seconds. This will prevent people from taking your machine while you’re gone. The water bottle also serves as a backup option for hydration, as many gyms only have vending machines and no water fountains.

Some equipment works on a “reservation” system at some gyms. Keep an eye out for a red, magnetic card, particularly near treadmills, bikes and barbell benches. If someone is already on the machine, take the red magnet to “reserve” the machine and go do something else until it’s free. Also, obviously, if the red card is gone but there’s no one on the machine, don’t just jump on it. Look around for whoever’s got it and remind them they’re up next.

It’s typical for gyms to close entirely once a week or a few days out of the month. Look for signs near the front desk with their closing schedule, so you don’t – like I constantly do – wind up biking halfway across town to find the lights out and the doors locked. Also, many locations are closed for long holidays, such as Golden Week and the new year.

Don’t expect to get your workout done in the exact order you planned it. Japanese gyms are crowded and a lot of people here have no concept of “working in,” so if your machine is taken, you may find yourself waiting an impractical amount of time.

The walls of gyms in Japan are plastered with rules, many of which you will frequently see Japanese people flagrantly breaking. You, however, as a foreigner, will be under extra scrutiny, so it’s best to just follow the rules.

Prepare to see some really weird stuff in the locker room.

Well, I think I’ve rambled long enough. I hope prospective Japan-based gym rats find this guide helpful.

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Real life Pokémon gym set to open in Japan next month -- The most annoying people you’ll meet at a Japanese fitness gym, illustrated (badly) 【Pics】 -- Pokémon Go players discover unusual gym locations around Japan

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79 Comments
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Good article. Don't get me started on Japanese gyms.

I quit a couple of private ones out of sheer frustration (seriously, they were run for the benefit of the staff, the customers were viewed as a nuisance), and the financial rip-off factor, then joined the public one, which was shut down after energy cuts from the Fukushima Crisis! And it didnt have air-con or heating anyway. Another one prohibits soap and shampoo in the showers, and the stink is one of the worst I've ever known, especially this time of year. I'm not being cynical when stating they simply don't want people going there.

So I ordered a bench and adjustable dumbbells from Amazon for 10,000 yen. Now I'm fitter and happier than ever -- working out at home and going for regular hikes.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I just joined a sports club after taking advantage of their 2000 yen, for which you can go to that gym for any seven days out of the allocated ten-day period 1st-10th, 11th-20th, 21st-end, kind of thing. Very good idea. Check out similar trial periods and other offers when you go past a sports club.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I gave up on gyms in Japan mostly due to opening hours and lack of free weights.

Now work out at home mostly body weight exercises supplemented with weights I bought at Don Quixote.

The system I use can give me up to 32.5kg per dumbbell which I reckon is enough. Add in Ankle(10kg) and Wrist(5kg) for Tai Chi Firms and I am set.

Granted use my local wards Pool to swim 1km twice a week.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The walls of gyms in Japan are plastered with rules, many of which you will frequently see Japanese people flagrantly breaking. You, however, as a foreigner, will be under extra scrutiny

Hah, my time at Konami Sports Centre was like this. Numerous (Japanese) people didn't wear the designated slippers when going to/from the locker room, so the one day that I did it (a few metres behind an ojisan who was still wearing his gym shoes) I got literally SCREAMED AT by some 40year old oyaji. "Kutsu nuge ya! Koko ha NIPPON DAYO" or something insane. He of course followed it up by going and telling the staff like a good little J-kokumin. Thanks, buddy.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Good article. I found a good public, community gym by chance in my neighborhood. The only downside is the old men who hog the equipment doing half-arse workouts with weight that would hurt them if they did the workout correctly--which is no biggie.

I used to have a membership at Gold's Gym until I asked myself, "Why am I paying over 10k yen for mediocre customer service and the shiny brand of Gold's?" The gym was beautiful, but 100 bucks a month is insane, and you find out that those gyms are just upper class fitness clubs for spray tanned J guys.

My advice is to never pay over 5,000 yen for a gym--nothing more expensive than I would in the states--and ask for a tour of the place first, hopefully during its peak hours to see what the crowd looks like, which is especially important for me. If your city gym suffices, save yourself the yennies and tough it out with the ojisans.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

In my experience, Japanese gyms are less about getting fit and more about socialising and/or showing off. I see people leisurely cycling while reading a magazine, or watching TV; rarely do they even break a sweat. There are so many idiots showing off and using wrong, even dangerous techniques...all while the staff watch. There is a guy who uses the tricep pulldown machine....on the heaviest weight....then has to use his whole back and shoulders to be able to pull down. Pointless. The staff are like, "Oh, Tanaka-san, sugoi, ganbatteiru ne!"

12 ( +14 / -2 )

I've been exploring the gyms in Osaka-Kobe for the last 15 years. True that most Japanese regular gyms and even the big chains like Konami and Tipness are not good for free weights and real lifting. They are also very quick to kick foreigners out for having tattoos. Happened to someone I know and he just had a tattoo, he was not displaying it. There are many small hardcore gyms that can be a lot of fun due to the characters in there and I had a great time. The Amagasaki city gym close to JR is great, liberal, and has equipment for Olympic lifting and you can bust out a few cleans and drop the bar and use their massive container of grip powder. But in the end I have stuck with Golds Gym. Been to Kobe and 2 in Osaka and they are consistently the best in equipment and being understanding of foreigners.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I used to go to Gym before work as it opened at 05:00, all the guys and gals were there to workout and not to socialise and hog the equipment.

Most Gyms here don't open before10:00 and are filled with people that want to socialise.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I go to the gyms run by the ward. Having tattoos, they are the only ones that I can go to for the most part. Golds Gym will also let in people with tattoos, but I didn't really find the value was there compared to the ward gyms.

The ward gyms can get quite crowded after work though. I usually go around 11:00, and the early morning group of old-timers has usually cleared out, and since most people are at work or school or whatever, it's actually quite empty.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When I was younger and had more time, I was using the public gym. There was a decent one relatively close, having a large enough free weights zone. But yes, it tended to be crowded. After my daily schedule got really busy, I discovered a 24 hours gym (JoyFit) that has two studios within walking distance from my house, one more fitness orientated, one for bodybuilders. Very well equipped, very clean (maybe too clean!), not crowded, 24 hours opened. 9000 yen a month, you can freely use any location in Japan. I'm quite happy with it

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Konami & Tipness are bad but Megalos is worse.

Granted my wards gym is not bad once you get past the compulsory intro lesson but again mostly machines and few free weights.

Love their pools as they have an indoor and outdoor one, 200yen for 2hrs. Ward residents pay half for everything from pool, Gym tennis, etc.

Besides weights I also walk for 2hrs daily nice 12km route.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oh yes. We signed into a gym to swim and it was a chamber of horrors. The pool was divided into narrow lanes and each lane will divided into a left and right lane. We quit, needless to say.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

As Jeff Lee said.

"Good article. Don't get me started on Japanese gyms."

100% this. Actual good article and don't get ME started on Japanese gyms. The stories I could tell from ONE gym alone is 3 times longer than this article. From the draconian rules to just straight up dangerous stuff. For example: one guy can make screaming yells as he loudly hits the kick boxing bag, but the guy next to him doing 500kg deadlifts can't make a squeak. The staff will yell at you if you don't use a "collar" on the bar bells but I also watched them sit idly buy while watching some new comer try to change the plates on a "safe" machine and he had no idea what he was doing and broke his finger! This place was a joke, 80% of the day nothing but a babysitting club for the elderly, after 5pm it was 5 times over capacity with over eager salary men and impossible to stick to any routine with such overcrowding.

Thank the lord I found a great private gym 5 minutes from work with 90% of all the equipement I could want which as many of you know first hand is WAY more than most gyms in Japan. They may not have a decline bench and 100x adjustable ultra double cable machine, but other than that they have enough gear to get my swole on. 6000 a month. I went on vacation one month and went to pay in advance. The sweet owners said "if you are not coming that month, don't worry about paying". My jaw hit the floor. Unheard of.

Good luck everyone in your journey to find a good gym, its feels like 95% of the battle sometimes.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Those guys at the gym...what a waste of time. I run 3 times a week, do pull-ups, push-ups, abs crunches, a few squats all at home and am in a better shape than 90% of the guys goofing around with their dumbbells.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Has anyone tried "Anytime Fitness" gyms? Supposedly 24/7 kind of a big chain.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is a guy who uses the tricep pulldown machine....on the heaviest weight....then has to use his whole back and shoulders to be able to pull down. Pointless. The staff are like, "Oh, Tanaka-san, sugoi, ganbatteiru ne!"

Ha, ha. This made me laugh. This brings back fond (?) memories of my time in Fukuoka. I used to go to Total Workout, which I THOUGHT was a good gym; had decent weights and was not that expensive.

I am big guy (6'3, 230lbs). When I was in university I played hockey. After graduating, I tried to keep in shape as I did not want to balloon to 250lbs, or more, like so many of my former teammates. Besides, I did not want to waste my time going out drink almost every night with co-workers. Granted, I did go out for special occasions; new years, birthdays and entertaining clients.

Anyway, part of my fitness routine in university was to hit the weights during the season and the off-season. When I started working out at Total Workout, Fukuoka, I tried to keep the same fitness routine. I did not care about how much weight I could lift. I just wanted to stay in shape. I had oyaji try to match me set-for-set, pound-for-pound. I remember one 50 year old who hurt himself squatting almost THREE times his body weight, using terrible form.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

If you want to find your nearest public gym, just ask around for either a “kuritsu” gym (区立ジム

Pointing out here that if you ask this question outside of Tokyo odds are people are going to look at you rather strangely.

(Tokyo-centric reporting....again)

In other locations it will probably be shi-ritsu, or if your town or village is lucky enough, cho-ritsu, or son-ritsu.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Has anyone tried "Anytime Fitness" gyms? Supposedly 24/7 kind of a big chain.

My buddy goes there. He says that because it's 24hr, they don't get so full at 'rush' times, as everyone sort of spaces out their workouts.

Pointing out here that if you ask this question outside of Tokyo odds are people are going to look at you rather strangely.

Yes and no - there are quite a number of cities in Japan with wards (区 ku), so it would no problem asking that question in any of those cities. But anywhere else, yes, it's not going to make sense.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I am actually rather glad that super-setting is banned or frowned upon. We don't need somebody hogging two machines, possibly with not one but two pointless exercises. It should be everyone's duty or consideration to get off the machine they are on as soon as possible. There are already plenty of inconsiderate people at gyms in Japan as it is. If you need a water break or rest DON'T just drape your towel over and walk off thinking you have the right to come back. If I am there I will surely throw your towel off.

Apart from that I agree with almost everything said here by the writer and the commenters.

Now if only they could make the gyms quieter. The same pointless music at the same time every day, the staff shouting greetings at the incoming customers and squeaky shoes on running machines drive me nuts. If you are pushing yourself then needless irritations become even bigger and the benefits of exercise sometimes seem cancelled out by the stress of putting up with noise.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Many Japanese gym users go mostly for the large baths.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My last gym was quite affordable. Since I moved, I haven't been able to find one of similar price near my apartment. The closest one was around the same price but only for weekend use. Then I realized my last gym would be termed ridiculously expensive compared to the gyms back home. All in all, gyms are just way too expensive in Japan.

But the worse part is that it is so difficult to find gyms or even swimming pools open in the early mornings. You'd think there'd be some people who'd like to work out before starting work because they'd be too tired in the evenings or may not find time.

It also drives me crazy how so many ojiisans ignore protocol and do NOT clean themselves before jumping into the bath. Others think a quick splash with a bucket of water suffices. People who make the floors wet and don't wipe it up also get on my nerves.

I do miss my old gym, but I'm so glad I won't have to hear Christmas songs non-stop from the start of November.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Yes and no - there are quite a number of cities in Japan with wards (区 ku), so it would no problem asking that question in any of those cities. But anywhere else, yes, it's not going to make sense.

Even towns have "ku's" but odds are high they wont have equipped training gyms.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

If you live in Koto Ku, Edowgawa Ku, or Chuo Ku, you should consider the YMCA Wellness Center near Toyocho Station on the Metro Tozai Line. With a huge gym, rooftop tennis courts, indoor swimming pools and racquet ball/ handball courts, etc. and a spacious weight lifting and rooms with exercycles and other cardio machines, it is a bargain at around 7,500 a month.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Even towns have "ku's" but odds are high they wont have equipped training gyms.

I think Yokohama people would beg to differ.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

An article which rings true for many foreign people (and some Japanese people for that matter) living in Japan . As a personal trainer myself I have researched and sampled a wide variety of gyms in Japan from Tipness to Konami, from Ward gyms to Gold's and all the points raised I have witnessed or experienced in some form or another. The large number of rules, the frustrating lack of consistency with their enforcement and the reluctance of trainers to pinpoint training mistakes stand out. Generally, the writer makes all the salient points - choose a gym based on your needs, which should include what you want to achieve, your budget and your previous experience and knowledge of fitness. For what it's worth, I would recommend Gold's Gym over all the others as the environment is generally more conducive to getting results and full-time membership,at around 9,300yen per month, is pretty reasonable. Don't forget to always have an exercise plan that matches your fitness level, use your time effectively and efficiently and always employ proper form!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No 'ku' in my town and we are a Shi so different from the neighbouring Tokyo 23 wards.

Said that our local sports centre is great but again like most gyms the machines are squashed in meaning they are too close to the next one.

Feels rather claustrophobic when you have to walk sideways.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"They usually cost around 8,000 to 150,000 yen a month, "

What in the world do members receive for that upper price? Strange that the author just states this matter of factory, while later terming 16,500/month "prohibitly expensive."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Belonging to a certain Gym is a form of status symbol here, don't mean that the person is serious about working out.

They also buy fancy/expensive workout clothes.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I go to a batting centre. At the moment I am visiting one in Morioka. I take my own bats. If you not keen on batting there is plenty of people playing team sport. I just ask if I can join in. 3 hours in a batting centre is more enjoyable the a work out in a gym. And why do Americans refer to gyms proper instead of using jim and don,t with Gaol (Jail). Just wondering

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Correction: matter of factory --> matter of factly

John-San,

Not exactly sure what you are asking, but gym is a shortened form of gymnasium (also of gymnastics).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Agree wirh Educator60 the word is ancient Greek, many English words originated from Greek, Latin, French, German, etc.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I could not have written this any better!!!! Great article right on point and 101% correct. A decent gym is probably the thing I miss the most from the US. I went to Tipness in Roppongi and it was not what I expected and since I can't find anything like our Bureau of Better Business (at least in English) - I don't know where to file a complain about the way I was treated! Word of advice - stay away from that place! Dirty place and as a gaijin, you will be treated without any respect! I had a year contract which was to expire at the end of August 2016, however, meanwhile I damaged my knee and a doctor put me on 2-3 months no-workout break. He wrote me a note, which I brought to the gym. I was hoping, I can put July and August on hold and after my MRI at the end of August, resume working out in September in October. Not only the gym wasn't able to accommodate that, they also asked me to pay them for early cancellation!!!! Not sure if they would treat a native person the some way, but this was just unacceptable. This is lack of customer service at its best! However, they had the nerve to try to give me a coupon for 2000 yen off if I recommend a friend to the gym!?!?!? Are they crazy? I would not recommend it even to an enemy! I put up with the unsanitary pool and lockers because of the convenient location, but this is it. I am never going back there, and I trying to warn others no to make the same mistake! Another disappointment was, as stated in this article, the Minato-ku Sports Center - I swear, half of Tokyo's population goes there and it is disgusting being in the pool with millions of people, let alone trying to swim laps! I just resigned myself to running around the Imperial Palace as a form of cardio training and doing some abs exercises at home - I can't be bother with these gyms anymore.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Why pay to go to a gym, when you have the big outdoors right outside your door?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

My husband and I tried out a gym near our home, it was more like a social club with most of the members more interested in hogging the equipment to best show off their latest gymwear. Little actual physical effort. The period between lunch and school finishing turned the gym into a mothers social group where they desperately all tried to keep up with the Mrs Jones'. Expensive too.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

notagain:Thanks, I will for go the batting centre this week and hit the gym between lunch and school finishing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

notagain: Tell me about it. Never seen this crap at Golds Gym, but at Megalos, I always used to encounter these groups of women who spent more time gossiping that actually putting their money to work. If they're not hogging the equipment, then far be it for me to tell them they're wasting time, but I just don't want to listen to all the noise.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Prepare to see some really weird stuff in the locker room.

Oh yes. Never ever touch the hairdryers, they have been used everywhere.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's strange the article doesn't mention tattoos. Most of the private gyms will not allow tattoos. All of the public city gyms in my ward prohibit tattoos. I don't have any tattoos but many foreigners do and will find this article no help at all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Literally every gym in Japan requires that you change from your outdoor shoes to shoes specifically for the gym. Don’t show up empty-handed, or you’ll be forced to rent a pair of indoor gym shoes for an added fee.

Can anyone help clarify this? Just it mean you have to bring a new pair of sneakers (Adidas, Nike, whatever) that aren't also worn on the streets? Or do the gym specify a certain type of shoes beyond that? Is this something that is checked on entry, or how strictly is this enforced?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can anyone help clarify this?

In Japan, in houses, schools, temples, etc, you take out your street shoes in the entrance and walk up a step to get inside, where you wear slippers. It's 100% enforced, nobody goes in with city shoes. In fitness clubs, they tell you to bring sneakers never used outside (some places demand white or light colored soles). They let you in with just socks or barefoot to reach the swimming pool or yoga studio, but they won't let you enter the area for weights and machines, or tennis, etc, without the clean sneakers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why pay to go to a gym, when you have the big outdoors right outside your door?

For me, there are two answers to that:

1) I need 'going to the gym' to be a thing that is done. It's a goal, as much as a process. It allows me to put it into my schedule, and have a purpose. This in turn allows me to keep it up.

2) I'm into free weights, with sets, and a planned workout. The same cannot be achieved outdoors.

All of the public city gyms in my ward prohibit tattoos.

Are you sure about that? Public gyms are paid for with tax money, so I don't think they can refuse people based on tattoos (though that may not be stopping them). Usually public gyms just ask that tattoos be covered.

Can anyone help clarify this? Just it mean you have to bring a new pair of sneakers (Adidas, Nike, whatever) that aren't also worn on the streets?

Yes, a new pair of sneakers. Not outdoor sneakers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I once wrote to CrossFit Daikanyama politely asking why they charged triple the price of their American partners, yet had a fraction of the facilities available.

The reply was, shall we say, rather curt.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Stranger: The only thing that stop a person from a workout outdoor is weather or either they are a special sort of person with some sort of disability who can,t. Unless your disable your give no real reason to adapt you workout to the outdoor. EG Free weights used cinderblocks or bricks. all are a standard weight just pick the weight you want, easy. has for set and planned work out it can be easy to adapt for outdoors.Unless you are disable I can understand the difficulty.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

The only thing that stop a person from a workout outdoor is weather or either they are a special sort of person with some sort of disability who can,t.

Sorry, but there is more than that. For me, it's the psychological difference between scheduling somewhere to be, with something to do (going to the gym) vs doing something I do everyday anyways (go outside). I am the type of person that needs to have that time scheduled for the gym. When trying to do natural outside workouts, I am not able to sustain a regular habit of it beyond a few weeks at best.

EG Free weights used cinderblocks or bricks. all are a standard weight just pick the weight you want, easy.

And you can repair a car with duct tape. That doesn't mean it's the best tool for the job. With the type of workouts I do, a cinderblock or a brick is not the right tool for the job. A full set of dumbbells and barbells, as well as a few stands like bench and a preacher-curl 'chair' and a stand for squats are the right tools for the job.

I've been going to the gym regularly since I was 16, and I was a bodybuilder for a number of years as well. The gym is something I know, and I know exactly what works for me and what doesn't - I've tried pretty much everything over the years.

I'm not saying an outdoor workout can't work, or won't work for anyone - one of my closest friends works out in the park outside his house rather than going to the gym, and it works well for him. But the question asked was:

Why pay to go to a gym, when you have the big outdoors right outside your door?

And I answered that question as it relates to me. To reiterate, I can't maintain the schedule of an outdoor work out in the same way that I can an indoor workout, and the tools that provide the best workout for me are in a gym, not in the outdoors.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

There are a lot of public gyms in Tokyo names " sports center" " kenko (health) plaza" or whatnot. Some of them are as cheap as 200 yen per 2 or 3 hour session. Since I can only go once a week tops, these are much more economical. Some of them provide a fairly large free weight area with plenty of options.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Oh god.... The stories I could tell.

I've been to a dozen gyms in Japan, and let me tell you, 11 out of 12 of them are garbage. Luckily, I now have one of the good chain gyms less than 1km from my home that has a one set of all the barbell equipment I need.

The problem? It's filled to the brim with oyajis that have absolutely no clue what the hell they are doing. Further, it's almost criminal how the staff does not correct the behavior of any of these old farts, but are lightning quick to yell at me for not putting locks on a deadlift bar.

There was this one guy in spandex who would do arm curls while standing on one of those step-up box things in the middle of the free weight area so that the bar would be at head level at every rep for anyone walking by. And he was there, every. single. day. I never saw him come, and never saw him leave. Arm curls on a box. Every day, all day.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Has anyone tried "Anytime Fitness" gyms? Supposedly 24/7 kind of a big chain.

I currently go there, there are actually two locations within walking distance from my apartment. The one I mainly go to is spacious, with most of the weight lifting equipment I need and plenty of treadmills as well. Since it's 24 hours, I find easy to fit into my schedule. The staff are friendly and the facilities are kept clean.

The great thing about it is that you can go to other locations (after a month of being a member). I haven't really used this but it's nice to have this option just in case.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I used to go when I lived in the city. I've seen a lot of the things described and they were a pain. More than anything, I found gyms generally far too hot.

In case anyone doesn't know, you can take mtb and road bikes on any train if you stick it (or most of it) in a bag called a rinkou-bukuro. Chill on the train or highway bus for an hour or so and start riding when the scenery gets good. Cycling uphill is a killer workout.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I can just imagine deadlifting 250 kg worth of cinder blocks... ouch. When your goal is to get as strong as you can, a gym is the only place you can go to to get that progression going. Incremental weight increases are best done at the gym. It doesn't stop you from going out for a hike or a walk. I use a weighted vest when I want to make my hikes more challenging. But any decent programming will require a gym to get stronger. I am lucky because I get to use the gym at my workplace for free but I remember the good bad days of going to Konami, what a waste of money that was. There's a good bodybuilding scene in Japan, that's probably where most people would feel most comfortable. Try to find one of these pearls, you won't regret it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I get it . you bloke are about bodying building.A daily work out to keep fit and healthy is big difference. Yes it would be difficult to workout when your body resembles that your mother forgot to remove the coat hanger out of your shirt.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

you bloke are about bodying building.

In my younger age, yes. I'm much more advanced in years now though. I work out to keep healthy, with a nicely shaped body, and good posture.

Yes it would be difficult to workout when your body resembles that your mother forgot to remove the coat hanger out of your shirt.

I sense some jealousy.

Anyways, outdoor workouts are fine for some people, as I mentioned they are not right for myself, and obviously not for others either. But you originally claimed:

The only thing that stop a person from a workout outdoor is weather or either they are a special sort of person with some sort of disability who can,t.

Now you seem to be agreeing that an outdoor workout won't have the right tools for the job for some people.

I'm glad to see you are open-minded enough to see when you were wrong, even if you tried to throw in a comment you thought was an insult: "when your body resembles that your mother forgot to remove the coat hanger out of your shirt."

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Has anyone tried "Anytime Fitness" gyms? Supposedly 24/7 kind of a big chain.

Yes, I sometimes go there. It is not crowded and I love the fact that I can use it any time of the day and anywhere in & out of Tokyo but if you want free weights it may not be the place you are looking for.

For what it's worth, I would recommend Gold's Gym over all the others as the environment is generally more conducive to getting results and full-time membership, at around 9,300yen per month, is pretty reasonable.

The “reasonable” part is debatable as it depends on who pays the fee and what they want to achieve. Personally, I avoid the Gold’s because several years ago, when I tried to get a membership, they told me that if I did not apply and get a Gold’s credit card I would not be allowed to become a member. It was annoying because they just tried to impose their terms of payment for the pure benefit of the company running the gym and obviously never considered that new customers might find their credit card unnecessary (one too many in the wallet) or might prefer other payment methods.

They also buy fancy/expensive workout clothes.

Fancy clothes are not necessarirly expensive (that is if you know where to go shopping). I buy fancy workout clothes at outlet stores and love them. Feeling good while working out is no bad thing! A girl is a girl no matter where she is.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

like how you had to slip in nicely shape body. Your about posing not health which is your right. But don,t tell me your about health. Your about having a nice body with the benefit of health that is associated with. Yes I am very jealousy that I am 56 years 80 kg bp 120/80 and a bit of shape and my partner of 6 years is 28 and 55kg 1.60cm and very pretty. Yes I am jealous Stanger.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

like how you had to slip in nicely shape body.

Damn rights. I enjoy it, and my wife loves it. And I like that she can feel proud to be out and about with me, as much as she likes feeling proud to be out and about with me.

You make it sound like there is something wrong with having a nice body.

I need it - in my old age, I can't count on my looks! Gotta make the best of what I've got.

But don,t tell me your about health. Your about having a nice body with the benefit of health that is associated with.

Another ridiculous statement. My healthy is extremely important to me. I focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet full of vegetables and fruits, and low in sugars and processed foods, so as to give my body the best nutrients that can be had. This is on top of going to the gym, which I do both to look good, and to be healthy.

Yes I am very jealousy

If you don't want people to call you out for your jealousy, you probably shouldn't make statements trying to deride people who have strong bodies, and/or want to look good.

So we are clear now that there are other reasons for not doing outdoor workouts than the two you listed as "the only possibilities", right?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Yes I am very jealousy that I am 56 years 80 kg bp 120/80 and a bit of shape and my partner of 6 years is 28 and 55kg 1.60cm and very pretty.

How much is she costing you? I think she likes your wallet more than your shape.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Strangerland: you probably shouldn't make statements trying to deride people who have strong bodies,

I had read the coat-hanger remark as 'like a cobra', which wouldn't be an insult, but looking at it again it's just hard to get meaning out of that. Maybe he meant 'skinny'? But that's even more nonsensical if he read previous posts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thank you very much to all who answered about Anytime Fitness!

Also, outdoors workout in the middle of Tokyo is not exactly ideal. Parks are small and far in-between, not everyone enjoys (or can) run (or enjoys running avoiding bicycles and smelling the cars), and there are no such things as cinderblocks/bricks just lying around unless you want to lift your neighbor's flowerplots and well, that might not be such a good idea.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stranger. I can,t get over fools who pay money to push inert objects to shape the body. Like you make out that it is the only way to obtain your level of health. Stranger what did they do before Gyms. How will you cope without the money to maintain your Gym fee ? because you state that it is the only way for you. are you going to roll over and die because you can,t afford the gym fee. I very much doubt it. You will find a alternative way that would not cost. Turbo it sarcasm, at how body builders arms follow the line of their shoulder then turn downwards at the elbow 90 degree, resembling that the person has forgotten to remove the coat hanger before wearing the item, Not skinny exact opposite.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

I can,t get over fools who pay money to push inert objects to shape the body.

What's foolish about spending time getting healthier, and looking better? Please be specific.

you make out that it is the only way to obtain your level of health.

Nope. As I said previously, "I'm not saying an outdoor workout can't work, or won't work for anyone" and I brought up my friend for whom it works. But, it doesn't work for me.

How will you cope without the money to maintain your Gym fee ?

My gym is 300 yen/drop in. I buy a 3000 yen card, that gives me 3300 yen worth of 'points' or whatever you want to call it. That means I pay 3000 yen for 11 times, which works out to about 270 yen each time. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Let's say I went four times a week, every week of the month (which I rarely ever do). That would work out to about 4300 yen/month. Hardly a troubling amount of money. Particularly seeing as I rarely drink, as when I was a drinker I could spend that much in a night without even trying hard.

are you going to roll over and die because you can,t afford the gym fee. I very much doubt it. You will find a alternative way that would not cost.

More likely, I'd stop working out. I've tried the outdoor thing, and I lose motivation. It's not something that works for me.

So we are clear now that there are other reasons for not doing outdoor workouts than the two you listed as "the only possibilities", right?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Do what works. If you like the outdoors, go for it. If the gym is more your speed, do that.

In case anyone doesn't know, you can take mtb and road bikes on any train if you stick it (or most of it) in a bag called a rinkou-bukuro. Chill on the train or highway bus for an hour or so and start riding when the scenery gets good. Cycling uphill is a killer workout.

It's more convenient to toss the bike under a bus, but I usually have gear problems after I do that. You could probably get away with two 100-yen bike cover bags taped together, although I have a proper bike bag. The downside is it take up more than half of my knapsack on the ride back.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I bought my own free weights, bench, and pull up bar. They fit nicely in the tatami mat room that nobody uses. haha. I thought about joining a gym, but I have found it much easier to just work out when I get home. It's easy to take a shower immediately after, too.

For me, the hardest thing was balancing a work out time between family and regular work. So having my own weights was also a way to be near my family. Now my wife is working out with them, too. I also started biking to work three days a week about a year ago. I bike on Mon, Wed, Fri, and change into work clothes when I get there. Tues/Thurs is by car to bring extra work clothes for biking. And Tues/Thurs is for weights when I get home. Sat/Sun is weights on one of those days.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This all sounds like a business opportunity to me!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Johnsan

You're really hostile about this for some reason, but if you're so against the idea of a well-shaped body then why exactly are you putting your partners specific age, height and weight into this conversation?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I go to Gold's. Some branches are definitely better than others, but it isn't 16,500 a month. The monthly fee for single-gym membership is only 10,800 yen. It was 10,500 until the sales tax increase, I believe. For a couple extra thousand a month you can be a Master Member, or whatever they call it, and use any of their gyms. Pretty sure it is still cheaper than 16,500.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Working out at a gym is usually a rather solitary experience. I have quite enjoyed the comments (aside from John-san, who is obviously something of a twit and comments-baiter). It all makes me appreciate my own Renaissance in Ryogoku all the more. Yes, puddles of oyagi and obasans abound, but the staff do help members with their form. The personal trainers are informed, committed individuals. The music generally stinks, but not as bad as Golds Gym in Higashi-Nakano (all gangsta rap shinola). Strangerland, you are my hero. People are generally considerate. Lots of options and I can even strap up my TRX. It's worked well for me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I go to Gold's. Some branches are definitely better than others, but it isn't 16,500 a month. The monthly fee for single-gym membership is only 10,800 yen. It was 10,500 until the sales tax increase, I believe. For a couple extra thousand a month you can be a Master Member, or whatever they call it, and use any of their gyms. Pretty sure it is still cheaper than 16,500.

It's been almost a decade since I was a Gold's member, but I remember they had an upper membership with which you could show up and get work-out clothes and a towel at the front desk, and drop them off when finished (meaning you don't have to bring a change of clothes). I think it was about 16,000 yen a month. This is probably what was being referred to.

Strangerland, you are my hero.

Thanks :) I'm not sure why in this case though!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A daytime membership at Gold's is 6,000 yen per month. You can use the gym from opening time in the morning till 6pm ( you have to be done and leaving by 6). If it fits your schedule, it's not bad.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm a marathon runner. My gym consists of Chiba country mountain side roads with traffic amounting to less than a car per hour, between rice paddies. No gym in Japan or overseas beats this, for sure.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

MI Sports provides personal training, martial arts and are tattoo friendly. Which is really hard to come by in Japan, it's nice to work out without having to worry about covering my arms!

https://www.facebook.com/MISportsLtd/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gyms. Great. You can buy a weight set. Or duct tape cinder blocks to a pole. Or chide those who exercise at a gym. All which is meaningless. As if informative. The article is about gyms. Konami has ranking levels & cost differentials. COSPA, it is exceedingly clean - excellent customer service and includes free weights, swimming pool, sauna, hot bath. Where I live in Kansai there is a plethora of gyms. All are well run and equipped to meet certain needs. Muscle heads can locate a gym appropriate to their needs. There are lotsa group classes, with excellent instructors and a cordial atmosphere. The gyms are designed for Japanese, as it is Japan. I used to work out at the Sports Palace, in San Francisco, where the US Olympic weightlifting team trained - it was similar to rudimentary gyms in Kansai.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kamakura gym is 200 yen and has great free weights. Anytime Fitness is popping up everywhere. Sure there are lots of crappy gyms....but Anytime is a good one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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