How to Japan

Tips on joining a gym in Japan

As in the West, gyms in Japan offer a wide variety of activities. Here we explain everything.

Are you one of those who like to exercise and take care of their body? If the answer is “yes”, then you will be happy to see that you are not the only one, because in Japan running and doing activities such as yoga have become very popular recently. However, if running is not your thing, the weather is not the best, or you just do not want to limit yourself to one activity, you are probably going to want to join a gym. In Japan there are a lot of them and they are even open 24 hours. We will explain the most important aspects when joining a gym in Japan.

How much is it?

Most private gyms are in the price range of ¥7000 to ¥10000 a month, although the fee varies by plan and location. Some will think that Japanese gyms are more expensive than gyms in their home countries. However, many local sports centers they offer cheaper monthly promotions and in some, customers pays each time they use the facilities through a ticket machine that is located at the entrance.

When we compare prices, it is a little cheaper to pay only for the days you go to the gym. Thus, if you only go a few times a month, then this is the best option. Sometimes there are special discounts during certain days or special seasons.

In case you decide to join a gym, you need to bring your ID (such as your passport or residence card) to start a membership (although online registration is also available). However, after you have become a member of the gym, although the monthly membership fee can be paid by bank transfer, you must also pay an entrance fee, handling fee (to issue your membership card), and a membership fee for the first 2 months in cash (it takes about 2 months to complete the account transfer procedures).

At the gym

Most gyms in Japan are small and compact. This is normal in Japan, as everywhere in this country tends to be smaller than in other countries, such as apartments, schools, shops, or restaurants. Local sports centers, meanwhile, have other facilities such as boxing, basketball and swimming, so they are usually larger than gyms.

Usually when you go to a gym in Japan you have to choose the type of program you want to participate in. Gyms usually offer various categories of exercise: muscle training, swimming/aqua aerobics, dancing, sports, etc. You can choose one program, or you can also try multiple programs (e.g., muscle training plus pool swimming). If you want to try studio or pool training, each club offers several programs for various levels, from beginner to advanced. As you can see, there are many training options available, so you will probably find something that suits your desires.

Rules at the gym

You should try to make as little noise as possible while training and lifting weights. It is also best to keep music and noise to a minimum.

If you have tattoos, you have to cover them. Tattoos in Japan used to be associated with the mafia, and while that image has changed in recent years, people still frown on showing them in public places, so it is better to cover them up. Some gyms won’t let you join if you have tattoos.

Try to avoid using your smartphone as much as possible. If you use an app for your workout, that is fine, but it is better to keep it in your bag or pocket unless you are using it to listen to music. Taking photos in the gym or charging cell phones is also not allowed (except in designated areas). If you are exercising sitting on a bike or other machine, you can use your cell phone except in places where it is not allowed, like near equipment or training areas.

Joining the gym in Japan can be a bit challenging if you do not know how to speak Japanese. That is why it is recommended that you come with a person who knows the language and explains how it works at least during your first visit to the gym.

Gym Services

Some private gyms are open 24/7 and only close if renovations are needed. On the other hand, sports centers are usually only open during the weekdays. Both types of gyms offer personal trainers, advice and services related to healthy lifestyle guidance, as well as facilities available to clients. You can also rent sports clothes and shoes and basketballs.

If you want to keep a healthy mind and a healthy body in Japan, do not hesitate to join a gym in this country.

I was born in Malaga (Spain), and after spending a season in Paris and London, my great passion for comics and manga led me to move to Kyoto as a doctoral student in 2018. In my spare time I write short stories and, I am the author of the book Touching the Stars.

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