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9Round Japan


Recently I was invited to visit 9Round Japan fitness center to try their newly imported from the USA, 30 minute ‘stress buster’ fitness center workout they have launched in Japan.

Personally I have never been one for circuit style / class training, simply I am generally clumsy and don’t feel comfortable following fast paced instruction and I prefer to ‘do my own thing’ during my workouts, so I cannot say I was expecting to enjoy the session nor should I expect a mere 30 minute workout to be particularly challenging. But I was certainly curious as I have wanted to try something new and thought it was worth checking out.

The format was explained to me before visiting and it was simple enough, 30 minutes of kick boxing related workouts across 9 ‘stations. Oh and bring a towel…

That’s it? Really? It has taken me more than two years to learn and master free weight techniques at the gym for my body building, so I can really expect this 30 minutes to be mostly instruction and discussion with the instructor. Easy time.

It’s wonderful to be reminded how our assumptions can lead to incredibly wrong conclusions.

Walking into the venue and the atmosphere was warm and inviting but the red paint and dark fixtures also signalled it’s time to get down to business. Not a large space but that is not the point, this workout is designed for efficiency, not for lingering.

The workout routine varies, but the menu for me was as follows.

  1. Jump Rope
  2. Medicine Ball Squats + Front kick
  3. Double Edge Bag Punch 20x + Shuffle
  4. Front Kicks on Heavy Bag
  5. 20x Uppercut + Duck Under
  6. Freestyle With Trainer
  7. 10x Knees + 10x Hammer Punches
  8. Speed Bag
  9. Medicine Ball Sit Ups

Okay, time for gloves on and let’s get started!

As you probably predict at this point, it was not so much an easy workout! By the end of the 2nd set on the medicine ball squats I was already feeling the pain (the good kind of pain!) and looking forwards to the next routine simply so I could catch my breath and switch onto a new muscle group, finally the siren sounded for brief moment of reprieve and a gulp of water until it was time for heading into the next set which would hopefully be gentler.

Gentler? Ha! Hopeful much?

After 30 seconds or so of front kicks on the heavy bag I was already thinking about the next break and pause to catch my breath. And that’s how it went all the way through the routine. Feeling exhausted towards the end of the set and final push, faster, give it more, 15 seconds. GO! Then what felt like an incredibly short break with the heart rate barely having time to drop a few beats a minute.

Despite the punishment of the session, something about the intensity and the focus that you apply, in retrospect the time actually flew past. Before I knew it, 30 minutes was done and I was finished.

No mistake about it, this is the good kind of high intensity training that pushes you to your cardiovascular and mental limits and leaves you with a very enjoyable buzz and satisfaction that you get after having completely exhausted yourself. And despite all the pain having just put myself through, almost instantly I was thinking about when I would be doing it again. It’s that good.


9Round is a high intensity, time efficient way maximise your workout benefits in the the shortest practical time to fit your busy schedule. I thoroughly enjoyed the workout and will certainly be going back!

The flagship gym is located at 3F, 3 Chome-15-17 Sagamiōno, Minami-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa-ken 252-0303

More branches around Tokyo be opening soon! If you would like to arrange a session for yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to them directly via Facebook. Although the official website is in Japanese, they have English speaking staff available to help with your enquiries!


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Why Gyms in Japan don’t actually suck.


I wrote previously about Gold’s Gym in Japan, I wrote about the rules and restrictions along with some of the good points that I had experienced.

Since then I have read many articles and forum posts criticising strange rules and regulations that Gyms in Japan impose and how foreigners struggle with them. I have also had the chance to extend my experience of Gyms here. This article is in defence of that criticism and also some points out some things that, in my opinion, Gyms in other parts of the world would benefit from implementing.


  • Indoor only shoe policy results in the environment being cleaner for everybody this way, how can that be a bad thing? The cleanliness of a Japanese Gym is phenomenal.
  • The staff clean, reset and calibrate the equipment constantly.
  • The close the Gym one day a month (while frustrating) it’s done in order to fully clean the entire venue.

The Staff

  • The trainers and staff are professional and attentive.
  • When they turn up for their shift, they casually walk the gym and greet the customers, it’s just a nice touch.
  • If you need a spot while you bench your body weight + some they are happy to oblige, not only that I have seen them rush to the rescue of overly ambitious lifters.
  • Again, the staff will also walk around the floor and clean the equipment, reset and keep the free weights organised if needed.

The Customers

  • Yes, it’s true you do see some very funny exercises that look like they are training for a new kamasutra position being performed by the odd Japanese patron, but the average local gym goer knows what they are doing.
  • No one is on their phone sitting on the equipment pretending to be ‘resting’ between sets
  • Even the serious Japanese lifter will usually either be in ‘focused’ mode, or more often than not have with smile on their face. The only grim reaper alpha douche bag’s I have encountered in my experience so far I’m sad to say are not locals.
  • Customers nearly always always clean and re-rack / return equipment correctly after use
  • Politeness when waiting for equipment or when moving around the gym. Always a polite nod and patient.
  • Honest, just yesterday I had to remove my sports watch while deadlifting, towards the end of my session I realised it was missing. While it would have been very easy for someone to ‘lift’ it (pun?), of course it was waiting at the front desk after someone had turned it in. Petty crime just isn’t a thing here.

Lastly, the major gripe you read about: No Tattoo Policy

Yes, it’s clear a Gaijin (white person) isn’t going to be a member of Yakuza, but exactly how are they meant to impose the restriction for Japanese people and NOT for Gaijin? Separate rules based on one’s race is clearly not a behaviour we want to encourage, no matter how innocuous the subject may seem.

So there you have it, a few reasons why I think the Gym’s in Japan are great. Of course I’m not saying it’s perfect, but these are things I miss when I’m not here and visiting Gym’s elsewhere that just don’t have the top notch experience that Japan is able to serve up through it’s community first attitude, excellent cleanliness and focus on excellence in customer service.

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Kentai Pump Up Pre workout formula.

Kentai Pump Up ingredients listSide of box dialogue Kentai Pump Up Front of box and individual packets display.Pump Up Front of box nitric oxide booster. Whatever that is.


As I have just landed back in Tokyo, my regular pre-workout formula is still packed in boxes back in Singapore waiting for shipment pending my visa coming through!

I had decided a break from taking any pre-workout before the gym figuring it would do me good and not having it available meant it should be easy for me to avoid the urge to take it. That cute idea lasted exactly zero days when I found this pre-workout formula product on the shelf at my new local Golds Gym . With all the rational thinking of the supplement junkie/geek  I am, I instantly decided I must try this product. I didn’t look at the price until I was paying for it and I noted it wasn’t overly cheap, coming in at 3700 Yen for only 15 individual sachets.

With my Japanese skills practically non-existent, the only way I could tell it was pre-workout is because the only english text on the box was ‘Pump Up pre-workout formula’. I figured this mystery product might have something to do with pre-workout and getting a pump.

The following is a journal of my experience on the product for 5 days.

Day 1.

Now, I’m not allergic to anything I know about yet, so not being able to read the ingredients or having a clue what I was consuming wasn’t going to stop me. However, that confidence expired rapidly as I attempted to swallow down the contents of this sachet of grapefruit flavoured powder demonic bitter gremlin dandruff.

At first attempt I managed to get a solid dose up my nose and on second attempt it went right to the back of my throat and was so dry I thought I might actually choke. A quick gulp of water and I finally managed to get it all down. It had a texture much like how I imagine flavoured cement mix would, so let’s just say it was a bit of an experience. Following that moment of  mortality I might have decided it was actually the adrenaline of a near death experience that got my pump going through that workout and the sense of focus was my gratitude for not being passed out and died in the gym lobby.

Day 2. 

This time I have figured out how to tear the packet to get the actual contents into my mouth without behaving like an uncoordinated idiot (despite the compelling evidence this is actually what I am) and this time expecting the experience of the foul dry powder I was much better prepared and got it down without issue except perhaps a minor grimace at the unpleasant taste.

Day 3. 

I had taken a couple of days off the gym and caught up with my friend who has been translating the contents, I showed her the whole product box this time (rather than the photo of ingredients I had shared earlier) and we were amused as she read some text stating ‘they have taken great efforts’ to improve the flavor of the product. I’m thanking the gods I didn’t have to endure whatever the original gear tasted like.  So anyway, I was back at the gym and today I decided I would try mix the contents into a small bottle of water as an alternative method of consumption. I will never do this again. It looks as bad as it tasted and having to consume it with water only extended the experience. But despite this, I must say I today I was convinced of this product’s merits. I still enjoyed a sense of clarity and a ‘slow burning’ boost for most of all my 1.5hr workout.

Day 4.

Missing the extra kick I am used to with my regular pre-workout mix I took a double espresso shortly before consuming the packet. By now I’m fluent with getting the contents down with a reasonable level of dignity. I think I almost enjoyed consuming it today. The double espresso before hand helped with the kick I was looking for.

Day 5 + Summary.

Following the same pattern as Day 4 with the double espresso to for an added kick and I’m now convinced of the products focusing ability and stamina boost it gives to your work out.  Oh, and by now I’m almost enjoying the bitter grapefruit flavour.

Now, I will continue to consume this box of product but I will say the retail price point of this product at 3700 Yen is a little on the steep side but buying from Gold’s might not be the cheapest. Despite the price point and product flavour taking some getting used too, I did experience first hand the products impact to my workout. I may cycle this with my regular pre-workout mix if and when I manage to find it here in Tokyo!

What pre-workout do you use? Have you tried this product yourself and what were your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!  Also if you have any questions please ask in the comments below!


Package Translation

Pre-work out  pump up supplement

  • Composed with 4,500mg of special peptide (per 1 product)
  • Composed with mineral (Zinc) 4mg (per 1 product)
  • Individual packages
  • Grapefruit flavor

Ingredients Summary

Nutrition facts (per 6.3g product) 
Energy 22kcal Carbohydrate 1.6g
Protein 3.8g Sodium 120mg
Fat 0.03g Zinc 4.2g (60)

*( ) Percentage of Nutrition Labelling Standards (%)

Whey peptide 4,000mg   Egg peptide 500mg

Ingredient Details

Amino acid analysis value (per 6.3g product)   in-company research
Arginine 100mg Alanine 300mg
Lysine 340mg Glycine 80mg
Histidine 80mg Proline 140mg
Phenylalanine 160mg Glutamine acid 490mg
Tyrosine 110mg Serine 200mg
Leucine 590mg Threonine 330mg
Isoleucine 260mg Asparagine acid 360mg
Methionine 180mg Tryptophan 50mg
Valine 310mg Cystine 30mg


Kentai are a Japanese sports and health manufacturer who manufacture and supplements exclusively to Japanese domestic market. You can browse this and other products at the Kentai Online Store


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Where to workout in Japan – Golds Gym.

Travelling is no excuse not to keep up with your workout schedule, in this article I explain the procedure for using Golds Gym as a tourist or short term traveller to Japan. 
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While the bodybuilding culture isn’t particularly strong in Japan and consequently many gyms and fitness centers are pretty disappointing when it comes to the free weights they offer. They tend to cater more specifically to ‘cardio’ / core type work so finding a gym that can cater for the serious lifter can be a challenge. Please don’t get me started about the pathetic ‘fitness centers’ found advertised for the hotels across Japan. 

If you want to get a serious workout session in while in Japan your first answer is with Golds. As you would expect with the brand name, Golds gym in Japan cater for the serious lifters.

While pretty close to what you would expect from a standard gym anywhere in the world there are of course some customs specific to Japan that can get you by surprise, so below is intended to help you get to the gym and enjoy a good workout with as little hassle as possible.

What you need

  1. Shoes! A 2nd set of clean indoor only gym shoes – Outdoor shoes are never to be worn indoors. It’s ingrained in the culture but if you don’t have a spare set of shoes they may have some you can rent from them for a small fee, but if you are a larger size like me you might struggle to find a pair that fit so really don’t rely on this.
  2. Your Passport! – Yeah, so they need a copy of your passport before they can let you workout. Don’t forget it, they won’t let you access the Gym without it. 
  3. Money – ¥3,100 (Around $30 USD) for 5 hour session. ¥180,00 (Around $180 USD) for a month long membership. Visa credit card is accepted. 
  4. Your own towels – Bring your own towels for shower and use on the equipment. Both can be rented for a small fee.

2015-07-22 17.37.28-1Observe The Rules

  • No Exposed Tattoos, they must be covered. Be prepared to be denied access or asked to cover up if you fail to observe the rules.
  • No supersets. Well you can but only one set of equipment to be “occupied” at all times. This includes barbells in the free weights area.
  • Re-rack your Gear to the right space when you are done. No, I shouldn’t need to tell you this but some of the gyms I have been too around the world you would think a tribe of dyslexic monkeys had been working out. In Japan it’s expected.
  • Wipe Down Your Equipment after use. Towels are provided on small hooks against nearly all the machines. Again, I shouldn’t need to tell you this and again in Japan it’s expected
  • No talking on the phone, not even briefly
  • Oh, and avoid the reserved pink women’s only area if you don’t identify as a woman. Duh.

What’s Good About Golds in Japan?

  • Super clean / organised
  • Respectful gym goers resulting in no loud grunting, phone blabbing, alpha chest beating and with equipment always re-racked correctly
  • Protein bar for fresh protein shake post workout
  • Tanning Machines
  • Super attentive staff  from the front counter to the workout area. In the workout area there is always one or two gym trainers overseeing the gym members activities like body guards. They wear earpieces to communicate with other staff, I’m not kidding.
  • Onsen hot bath (be sure to observe the rules and wash yourself before using!)

What’s Bad About Golds in Japan?

  • Not reading this blog and turning up without your passport and having to return to hotel to get it. Why the hell do they need to copy my passport for a workout!
  • Sometimes a lack of English speaking staff or English translation text for products services
  • Rather expensive fees
  • Not being able to show your biceps because you have to cover your tattoos with a long sleeve t-shirt.
  • My calves, skinny as heck (Oh, wait that’s not Golds Gym fault!)

I hope this post has been helpful to you finding your way around the Golds Gym’s in Japan!  

Protein Shake Time! Ganbatte!

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