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Bio-hacking with Cryotherapy

 

 

 

Turning the tap to cold and blasting myself for a few minutes at the end of an otherwise warm and enjoyable shower is a habit I have adopted for some time now. And no, I can’t say I really look forwards to it all that much and yes I know it sounds a bit crazy.

So exactly why do I do this? And why on earth would I then also go visit my friends at cryosauna japan and step into a cryosauna chamber delivering an ambient temperature of -170°C ?

Well, that is the purpose of this blog detailing benefits of cold therapy and more specifically cryotherapy.

Let’s get started.


What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is a treatment administered with a Cryosauna. The cryosauna uses gas from nitrogen to rapidly lower the skin’s top layer to 0°C (32°F) while surrounding temperature drops to a range of -140°C (-​220°F) to -170°C (-274°F).  During two / three minutes of extreme cold, the brain triggers numerous organ regulatory functions that are noted to provide benefits from injury recovery, weight loss, mental boost to anti-aging.

Cold therapy treatments have been around for aeons, but Whole Body Cryotherapy originated in Japan in the late 1970’s by Dr. Yamaguchi who discovered that freezing skin surface provided immediate relief to his patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Yamaguchi and his partner’s ongoing studies concluded that faster short term freezing of the skin’s surface while inside a cryosauna had a raised the effects on the human body by comparison to a gradual cooling provided in other methods (such as a cold shower or ice bath) and thus the modern treatment of the cryotherapy was born.

More recently cryotherapy and cold exposure has become a popularized ‘bio-hacking’ method that has been adopted amongst high profile individuals from athletes.

 


The Science of Cryotherapy

So, is it really possible all these claims could be true? Well, there are numerous studies which are demonstrating the evidence and as with much emerging ‘natural’ therapies, some of which is still debated. One particularly problematic component of scientifically proving cold therapy is the inability to run the scientific standard ‘placebo controlled double blind study’. This is a condition which a control group believes they are receiving a treatment (but not) is matched with results against a group that do. With Cryotherapy there is no sugar pill to give, either the user steps into a cryosauna chamber and experiences the cold therapy or they do not. It is for this reason the science behind cold therapy has been slow to become widely accepted in the scientific community.

Regardless of this, it has not stopped early adopters of the bio-hacking community to embrace the therapy and the numerous direct experience and anecdotal evidence shared by users is difficult to ignore which is what lead me into my own personal exploration of the therapy that I share here.

 


The Benefits of Cryotherapy

There are numerous claims to the benefits of cryotherapy from a depression treatment to even life longevity. I haven’t investigated into these areas and encourage you to explore further beyond the list below, which I have limited to the most commonly noted and scientifically sound benefits.

  • Pain reduction

    As mentioned already, there have been many studies that demonstrate the benefit of cold therapy including those on arthritis sufferers where the treatment was originally developed. This is achieved primarily due to the anti-inflammatory effects and the trigger of release of endorphins in the patients. Additionally ‘topical’ cryotherapy on patients with wisdom teeth extraction showed significant benefit. This was tested in a group of people with dual extractions and applying treatments to one side.

  • Workout recovery 

    After high intensity / endurance activity. Studies have shown that speed of muscle recovery from intense workouts is significantly improved by comparison to those of a control group who were not exposed to the therapy. Cryotherapy is a powerful anti-inflammatory, this is due to cold exposure allowing improved blood circulation (vasodilation) through the muscle groups and into otherwise poorly circulated capillary veins.
    The timing of cold therapy post exercise to maximize the benefits is still debated however, generally speaking the advice is in the window of 1 hour after the exercise (allowing time for muscle repair/rebuild to take place via healthy muscle inflammation) but then within the following 48 hours of the exercise.

  • Mental Clarity 

    By the release of Norepinephrine and adrenaline into the bloodstream. These wonderful and natural body chemicals are commonly experience during a ‘fight or flight’ situation and is aimed at improving your ability to cope with the stress demands of the situation. Cryotherapy is able to artificially stimulate this biochemical response without any real threat of harm and allow us to gain a mental alertness and clarity benefits. The synthetic stresses from our desk jobs that seldom trigger such a biochemical reaction. I personally believe it’s good to experience a shock to the system once in a while.

  • Weight Loss

    Via non-shivering thermogenesis. To vastly oversimplify, this is a process whereby the body’s response to cold exposure speeds up the metabolism in order to regain body temperature and in doing so burns energy from brown adipose tissue (‘brown fat’ stored on the body that is readily consumed for fuel).

  • Skin Revitalisation 

    Achieved through the speed up of metabolism, improved blood circulation and stimulation of an increase in collagen production in the skin.


If you would like to try cryotherapy for yourself and based in Tokyo, please visit my friends at Cryosauna Japan (booking is essential!) to arrange a session.  

They are located at:

Cryomed Japan
La Muse Juban BLDG.
4F, 1-6-5 Azabu Juban
Minato-Ku, Tokyo

If you have the space for it, they can even arrange to install a cryosauna in your own home!

 

 

 

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Spartan Race comes to Japan

 

 

In the countries they are held, is hard to find someone that has not heard about the iconic Spartan Races series that are currently held in 14 countries throughout the world and that number is soon to be 15 countries as the Spartan race is now coming to Japan with the first event to be held on 27th May 2017!

A spartan race is setup with a variety of spaced obstacles of varying difficulty that must be traversed throughout the course. The races vary in difficulty, ranging from 3 miles (Spartan Sprint) to marathon distances.

The inaugural Spartan Japan event will be a spartan sprint (3-5 miles long, 20-30 obstacles).  The spartan sprint is designed for everyone but that does not mean it is a walk in the park! The spartan organisers do not announce the obstacles for the course ahead of the day, but you can expect to have a lot of fun on the day challenging yourself with the obstacles on the course, such as wall climbs, moats, mud pits to name a few.

Participation can be as an individual and all participants are time and recognised individually, however racing a team with friends is encouraged. And what better way to have fun with friends than getting out of your comfort zone accomplishing a feat of endurance together!

 

The spartan sprint is the perfect a race for anyone to try out and discover what they are made of and is an ideal goal for pushing yourself to train and get into a better shape! So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and sign up today!

There will be English speaking support available at the event.


Training

The Spartan team recommend the following as minimum preparations for the event:

  • Walk/jog/run at least 1 mile per day
  • 30 burpees per day
  • 30 of the best pull-ups you can do per day

You might also like to check out a meetup group in Tokyo who train in Hibiya park every saturday to support members get ready for the Spartan race!

Location

Less than an hour out of Tokyo, the closest station is Sagamihara on the Yokohama line and the venue entrance is less than 1 minute walk from the station. There is no parking space on site.

Weather

The average weather in Sagami ranges between during May is 13.5°c with the warmest around 19.5°c

Official Website

For more information please refer to the official Spartan Japan website that is kept up-to-date with the latest and official information.  

 

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Kinniku Shokudou – Tokyo Healthy Eating

Serving up a superb range of nutritious high protein / low carb and entirely delicious healthy meals, Kinniku Shokudou have your post workout or healthy eating meals sorted! Located only a few minutes walk from Roppongi station, this venue needs to get onto your list of ‘must eats’ while in Tokyo.

Kinniku Shokudou (食堂) translates to ‘muscle restaurant’ and why it has that name becomes immediately obvious the moment you start to salivate over the impressive menu. Perfect for the low carb, ketogenic, muscle building or simply health conscious diner, every meal on the menu comes presented with Fat, Carb and Protein information.

Among the array of dishes which includes delicious lean (bun free) burgers, steaks and chicken options, you might also like to satiate your post workout thirst with the equally impressive drink list available. You can choose from the selection of protein shakes and low carb alcoholic / non alcoholic drinks to enjoy as you feast.

For many items you can order your meal by portion size and the large size are especially generous servings, particularly considering average Tokyo meal size standards.

  • Non-Smoking Venue
  • English Menu Available
  • Uber Eats home delivery available (limited menu)

 

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Tokyo Marathon 2017 – Registration Information

This article is a summary of registration options for foreigners to Japan looking to enter the Tokyo Marathon 2017.

Tokyo Marathon

**** We have a Tokyo visitors guide book available, you can download your free copy at  https://www.fitjapan.com/tokyo-marathon/

1. General Entry is open from August 1st 2016

General Entry is drawn by lottery. There are 35,500 spaces and registration exceeds 300,000 ++ entrants to the lottery. You will need to be lucky to get a space, がんばって!

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter , we will remind you when it’s time to register!

2. Charity runner registration opened from July 2nd 2016

There are 3000 spaces reserved for charity runners and given out on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. If you absolutely certainly MUST run the Tokyo Marathon and don’t want to risk missing it, this is a great option and proceeds going to some great causes that you can select at the time of application.  You may raise the donations or simply donate yourself to the value of ¥100,000 (roughly $1000 USD).

More information about the types of charities and the charity registration page are found on the official Tokyo Marathon website here.

3. Overseas Booking Agencies – To be Announced in August

Many fitness focused ‘travelling agencies’ secure spaces and provide additional services (Airport transfers, Race Day transfers, Accommodation and excursions from Tokyo etc) for foreigners travelling to Japan at the agency specified cost. You may prefer this for some additional support for your trip to Tokyo. Two that I have personally used in the past are Travelling Fit (Australia) and Athletes Journey (Singapore). The complete list of agencies will be provided on the official Tokyo Marathon website.

4. RUN as ONE – TOKYO MARATHON 2017 from August 7th 2016

The “RUN as ONE – TOKYO MARATHON 2017” program is for any overseas runners from Japan who meet the semi-elite qualifying criteria and can apply through the page found at  http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/runner/run-as-one/


 

These are the primary options for gaining entry to Tokyo Marathon for foreigners, there is also the wheelchair marathon. If you are interested to learn more about this any other information be sure to head over to official Tokyo Marathon english website http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/

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Tokyo Marathon – Race Day Preparations

Tokyo Marathon 2016 is almost upon us and here at Fit Japan we have been busy preparing a guide book aimed to help first time runners of the Tokyo Marathon to plan and prepare for their Tokyo Marathon adventure. The blog post that follows is an extract of tips regarding food, hydration and clothing for the day.

Hydration

The hydration stations are well equipped; clean water is used and stations are frequently, and evenly, spaced throughout the course. You should note the restrictions regarding your own hydration, which can be confusing – I suggest just relying on the very well-equipped hydration stations.

Food

So far, as official stands go, there are plenty of food sources; you can expect bananas, buns, plums, and even tomatoes to be supplied along the race.

The crowd very often brings plenty of goodies to the sidelines and offers them freely to runners as they cheer you along (fighto!!!). Some have chocolates, some have plums, some have miso soup… Don’t be shy and be sure to say arigatou!

Of course, pack your favorite brand of fuel, but just be careful about travel restrictions on fluids.

Clothing

Poncho

Whatever you are wearing for the race itself, it is highly recommended that you pack a poncho for the start line as wind, rain or light snow is likely.

Throw Away Cottons

On top of that, some old warm clothing that you don’t mind disposing of will go a long way. You can quickly whip these extra layers off a few minutes before the gun fires and carefully toss them over the sidelines or hold onto them and drop them into a trash bag along the side of the course.

Of course, you can be a penguin, and huddle in the crowd and try to keep warm by jumping around, but trust us on this, you are much better off packing a pair of warm sweatpants and a cotton jumper to wear while waiting at the start line. When the cold wind rushes through the crowd, you will be thankful.

Gloves

I strongly recommend gloves for the entire race.

Beanie / Buff / Ear Warmers

This one is optional but something to keep your ears and head warm, especially at the start of the race, is worthwhile. Depending on the conditions of the day, you probably can wear this item for the whole race. Again, something you don’t mind tossing away is smarter if you don’t want to end up carrying it the entirety of the race.

Glasses

Transition sunglasses, they help with keeping rain and wind out of your eyes and the sun when it does shine can be quite bright.

Long Pants

If you don’t tolerate the cold well, consider compression pants for your legs and a long sleeve shirt or even two layers for your top.

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Where to ride in Tokyo. Arakawa River.

Tokyo hasn’t been the best for me when it comes to cycling. I had been out to explore around the city looking for a decent long ride but was met with constant stop starting in congested traffic and a little frustrated by the behaviour of ‘commuting’ cyclists weaving between road and footpath haphazardly and even cycling in the wrong direction on the road; generally ignoring all road rules. It’s fair to say that my experience had been less than enjoyable.

And unlike the running culture in Tokyo, where you spot runners on the street and in parks everywhere at all times of the day, I seldomly would spot a serious cyclist on the roads of Tokyo. I was beginning to think that the cycling culture in Japan was only about commuting (which it is massively popular form of transport) and there was not much to offer for serious cycling enthusiasts, that is until I found Arakawa River route this weekend.

It was an absolutely stunning Autumn day and a real delight to get out and enjoy the wide open spaces that this mixed running and cycling path provides.

The track along the river has a few ‘slow down’ gates, it’s not perfectly maintained and also as it was the weekend there were a number of little league baseball games with kids dotted here and there along the way. All this meant  I couldn’t really open up at full speed for the entire route, but nonetheless it was by far the best cycling area I have found so far.  The images following are from the ride along way, I look forwards to exploring the track upriver on my next trip out.

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Runners Station, Kojimachi.

Front EntranceVariety of clothing and supplements Common AreaGarmin Watches for hire / sale.Shower CapsuleMens Locker Room #1Mens Locker Room #2

Situated 500 meters from the Imperial Palace running track, you quickly get a sense the owners of Runners Station Kojimachi have thoughtfully crafted this environment with a genuine knowledge of what a runner’s needs are and that they share a passion for running as much as you do.

Runners Station Kojimachi offer a variety of services, with the core facility being the use of a locker and a clean shower + towel rental. This is priced at only ¥700.

Other services include the option to store running shoes (via monthly membership) to rent a garmin watch or running shoes and you can also purchase from a variety of running clothing and supplements they have available.

Coffee and Tea facilities are available in the communal area for ¥100 and there is free wifi available too!

They are located directly above Kojimachi Station on the Yurakucho line and easiest to access if you take Exit 4 and follow the stairs to the top.

Although I have yet to encounter an English speaking staff member this really is not a barrier. They have even created a handy PDF map and explanation in English to help us non Japanese enjoy the service and the route.

Runners station is a warm, welcoming and friendly environment that is dedicated to the service of runners wanting to enjoy the ever popular Imperial Palace running track and I recommend you try them out for yourself.


 

Hours of Service
Weekdays (Tue-Fri) 10:00 to 22:30 (21:00 last admission)
※ Monday Closed

Saturday 8:00 to 20:00 (18:30 last admission)
Sunday and holidays 8:00 to 18:00 (16:30 last admission)

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Where to run in Tokyo. Yoyogi Park.

 

Located in central Tokyo, Yoyogi Park (代々木公園, Yoyogi Kōen) is a staple destination for runners of Tokyo.

Given it’s central location it is easily accessible by public transport, with train stations ‘Harajuku‘ (Yamanote Line) , Meiji-jingumae and ‘Yoyogi Kōen‘ (Chiyoda Line) all taking you to the parks doorstep.

Yoyogi Park hosts all the facilities you need for an enjoyable run as there are plenty of toilets, water fountains, vending machines throughout the park. The paths are superbly maintained and if you are looking to go for an afternoon or evening trot, the inner loop paths are well lit.

 

One less common known points about running in Yoyogi Park is that it offers not only one, but two running routes; an inner loop and an outer loop.

Yoyogi Park – Inner Loop

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 15.15.32

This one is as simple as following the footpath around the park from any of the main entrances. It is possible to weave around a little as there are a number of foot paths to choose from that are all connected, just stick in one direction (for some reason, counter clockwise is the standard in Japan) and you can easily explore the options. The example pictured below is the very inner loop.

Length: Approx 1.3 km long
Track: 100% Pavement
Good for: Interval training, short jog under 10k, people watching while you jog.

 

 

Yoyogi Park – Outer Loop

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 15.15.56

This is also pretty easy to find as long as you know it’s there! Locate one of the main entrances and look for a worn path that follows the outside of the park. You can traverse the park and see a different perspective of Yoyogi and enjoy a trail run like feeling.  Depending on the weather you might want your trail shoes for this path as it can be muddy in parts if it has been raining. This loop is slightly longer and offers a trail run feel despite being in the center of Tokyo city.

Length: Approx 2.6km long
Track: 20% Pavement / 80% Dirt Trail
Good for: Trail run feeling, longer runs (longer distance means fewer loops)

Tips for running in Yoyogi Park

  • It can get very busy and a congested during weekends and public holidays when the weather is good. If that is the case when you plan to go, head out early to avoid the crowds
  • There are a number of large crows living in the park. Generally they are a bit of a nuisance as they sometimes do like to swoop low as you run past but I haven’t heard of them ever causing any harm
  • Careful to avoid cyclists as there is a cycling route in the park that’s used mostly for parents with young children to enjoy so keep an eye out especially when you are crossing the cycling path
  • Don’t run in the Meiji Shrine area of the park (the right side entrance to the park after exiting Harajuku station) it’s forbidden to do so and there are too many tourists to make it a comfortable location to jog anyway. Stick to the routes above.
  • Take a break from your run by the dog fenced area (you will pass it on the inner loop) and enjoy watching the dogs at play
  • If you would like a locker, a place to shower and change after your run the check out Nohara by Mizuno. This service is especially for runners and as shown in this google map and as you can see it is conveniently located in Harajuku. The service is available to the public for a small fee.

 

 

  • Inner Loop Track

 

 

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Where to run in Tokyo. The Imperial Palace.

Where to run in Tokyo. The Imperial Palace.

If you are visiting Japan for the first time and looking for a place to run that’s central in Tokyo then look no further than the Imperial Palace. The track at the Imperial Palace is the quintessential Tokyo City running destination and it might well be the most popular of all running locations in Tokyo for Gaijin and local Japanese alike.

Why is Running at Imperial Palace so Popular?

  • Central access from a number of stations in the area makes getting there by train easy. There are nine train stations (Hanzomon, Sakuradamon, Hibya, Yurakucho, Nijubashimae, Tokyo, Otemachi, Takebashi, Kundanshita) that all either take you right to the route or close enough for a short walk/jog or jog to the track
  • There are no traffic lights or other reasons to stop/start along the way
  • It’s an even 5km loop start to finish, so it’s simple to measure your 5km 10km 15km etc etc distance if you don’t have a sports watch
  • Access to numerous clean public restrooms along the route
  • Water Fountains access for a quick sip or replenishing your water bottle. Especially handy if you are doing multiple loops in the summer time.
  • Community spirit of runners is alive. Rain, hail or shine and regardless of time of day, there seems to be always at least a handful of runners out enjoying the course with you
  • Well lit and safe while Tokyo itself already has an exceptionally low crime rate the Imperial Palace is well lit and guarded by numerous police who are stationed around the palace
Gardens at Imperial Palace
Gardens at Imperial Palace

Helpful Tips

  • Most (maybe all) of the train stations have lockers if you need to store goods while you jog
  • Check out the running services in the nearby area such as Runners Station where you can shower, use a locker, grab supplies – you can even rent running gear from them if you need it. They even have an english text imperial palace running map illustrating the water stations/bathrooms.
  • Run only counter clockwise around the course, it’s simply an etiquette that’s followed by all to keep congestion to a minimum.
  • Much like most of Tokyo, there are no trash cans on the loop so be mindful of this and hold onto any litter until you are home.
  • In contrast to the last point and somewhat out of place for Japan there are no vending machines along the route, if you seek a drink other than water you can simply cross one of the roads at the traffic lights and run for a while. You are bound to come across a vending machine in no time.
  • The route can get congested as some areas of the path narrow and the runners numbers do get high during peak times. The Japanese runners of course are generally highly courteous people, locals will nearly always clear the way when they can ‘sense’ you are wanting to pass. If you are stuck and the person is unaware, simply call out Sumimasen (pronounced soo-mii-mah-sen), which simply means Excuse me!

 

Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace
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Cheap & Healthy Eating in Japan.

 

Cheap & Healthy Eating in Japan. FamilyMart.

After lunch today, I decided I would share exactly how dead easy clean eating is in Japan – even if you are on a budget. 

Todays lunch menu:

  • Salad
  • Boiled skinless chicken breast (really delicious)
  • Boiled egg
  • Sparkling water
  • Banana 

All this for under ¥1000 (around $8USD)!! It was all purchased from the Family Mart, loaded with protein and less than 500 calories.  They even give you hand wipes and chopstick + toothpick along with the purchase. 

So, get yourself a healthy and quick lunch on a budget is dead easy, just walk into any Family Mart (they really are available prolifically throughout Tokyo) and you will be presented with literally dozens of healthy and budget priced options (along with a gazillion other fascinating food products you will be tempted to try, but that will wait till cheat day right?) 

 


 

 

Itadakimasu!

The word ‘itadakimasu is spoken before eating and is roughly translated as “I humbly receive” It’s nearly always used before eating food by Japanese it’s much like saying “Bon appétit”!

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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. 
2015-02-18 20.33.20

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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