Gyms In Japan
With New Year’s Resolutions being made and summer right around the corner, a lot of people find themselves wanting to get in better shape and become healthier. There are an ample amount of ways to achieve this goal but one of the more common ways is to start weight lifting at a gym. Those familiar with gyms in their home countries may find gyms in Japan to be a bit different.
Finding and using a gym in Western countries is a simple process. More than likely there is some form of gym in every city or town where one just has to show up, sign up for a membership, and start exercising. There are many different kinds of gyms such as general fitness gyms, martial arts gyms, crossfit gyms, etc. but the focus of this article will be on gyms for general fitness. In the West, these gyms are often quite large and offer a variety of amenities such as free weights, machines, and classes at a reasonable monthly price.
The majority of gyms in Japan are quite small with very limited equipment and few amenities. Not only that, but they can be fairly expensive. To put things in perspective, a gym in Japan can be a very small space with five treadmills, two stationary bikes, one power racks, one smith machine, one cable machine, dumbbells that only go up to 30kg, and maybe 10 other machines, and cost ¥6,000+ per month. Despite this being commonplace, finding a decent gym is far from impossible. When I first moved to Japan, it was an endeavor to find a good gym. I have been to various commercial and private gyms and here are the results for those that are interested in joining a gym in Japan.
Know your fitness goal and how you want to achieve it.
Like previously mentioned, there are many different kinds of gyms. A lot of gyms here can be severely lacking in equipment and amenities while others don’t have swimming pools, classes or personal trainers. If one just wants to do cardio, there’s a gym for that. If one just wants to use machines and free weights, there’s a gym for that. If one wants to take classes and swim, there’s a gym for that. Knowing how you want to exercise and understanding your fitness goals will help you choose the gym that’s right for you. There are a few major types of gyms in Japan which we’ll now discuss.
First are commercial gyms. A few examples would include Gold’s Gym, Anytime Fitness, Joyfit24, and Tipness. These gyms are the most general with the most variety of equipment. The same chain will have different equipment at each location so be sure to visit the location first to ensure that the gym has the necessary amenities for what you want to do. Gold’s Gym has the most variety and is the most similar to gyms in the West in my opinion, but it is also the most expensive.
Next up are public gyms and city gyms. One of the biggest differences is that membership is not required. Gym goers will pay a generally low price of ¥300-500 per visit which makes it the most affordable. Virtually every city has at least one, however the main issues is that each city and public gym largely varies. One can have a pool, classes, and machines, but no free weights. Others can have an incredible amount of free weights and machines, but nothing else. Hopefully the one in your city has what you’re looking for as these are the best options in my opinion if available.
Lastly are private gyms and spa clubs. A few of these would include Renaissance, Curves, and Megalos. A lot of these gyms focus more on classes, personal training, and things like basketball courts and pools. Commercial and public gyms generally don’t have these types of amenities so these are the ones to look out for if these are important to you. Private gyms and spa clubs also have the above mentioned cardio machines, free weights, and exercise machines but in far less variety and quantity. These gyms are the nicest but also the most expensive.
If going to a gym is something you want to do but don’t know where to start, I would recommend checking out your local public gym first before considering the others. If that doesn’t work out, it is imperative that you see whatever other gym you’re considering in person before signing up as pictures online can often give a sense that the gym is larger or has more equipment than it actually does. Also, review the rules carefully as some gyms require a separate pair of shoes or don’t allow supersetting.
Whether you decide to join a commercial, public, or private gym, make an informed decision beforehand and most importantly, have fun! Good luck, and happy training!
* At the time of writing this article, gyms are still open during the coronavirus pandemic. Please use your own best judgement when deciding to go to a gym during this time.