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 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.
- 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Your own towels – Bring your own towels for shower and use on the equipment. Both can be rented for a small fee.
Observe 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!