How to Join a Gym in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

How to Join a Gym in Japan

By Guidable Writers Aug 18, 2017

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Do you like sports and keep doing some exercises every day? In Tokyo, running around the Imperial Palace has been popular and the number of runners has been increasing. However, not everyone likes running and perhaps some of them would rather swim or workout indoors. And here is another choice: training at the gym. There are a bunch of gyms here and there, and some gyms are boast branches across Japan. If you are still wondering about which gym to choose and how to apply for it, here are some tips for you!!!

What Do You Want to Try at the Gym?

First of all, you need to decide what kind of program you want to participate in. Gyms usually offer several categories of exercise: muscle training, swimming/aqua aerobics, dance, sports, etc. You may choose 1 program, or you can also try multiple programs (e.g. muscle training plus swimming in the pool). Some gyms even offer running training programs outdoors. You might not need this program if you are an experienced runner, but it is a chance to learn running form, etc. from an experienced instructor. If you want to go on a diet or conserve your strength, you should try personal training with a trainer. Of course, you may decide to workout at your own pace, but the trainers can at least teach you how to use the facility if you are a beginner. When you want to try studio or pool training, each club offers various programs for several levels, from beginner to advanced. Similarly, you don’t have to be able to swim to join pool programs because aquatic exercise programs are also available. As you can see, there is generally a variety of training options available, and you’re bound to find something that fits meets your desires.

Points to Consider When Choosing Your Gym

What do you prioritize when you compare each gym? The most important element is likely that the gym is easily accessible for you, located near your home, office, station, etc. If you want to work out before work, you may choose the gym near your office. If you join a pool program you can use the showers to wash up, and you won’t have to take a shower at home. If you want to visit the gym on your day off, you may prefer a gym near your home.

If you are interested in some program, its date/time and location may be fixed, so you need to consider your schedule before making a decision. Because the lineup of programs at a given gym often varies by location, you should check the details carefully.

Your decision will of course be affected by the membership fees and benefits as well. Several gyms offer unique benefits for members, so you’ll have to balance out the benefits and costs when comparing gyms.

Visit the Gym Before Joining

When you have decided the location and program you think you want to attend, you should observe or experience the class once before you apply. I addition to observing, you may want to ask the staff any questions you may have. The entrance fee for a one-time visit will depend on the gym. Although generally no reservation is needed, you could make an appointment to make your visit run more smoothly, and you might need to schedule an appointment by phone to visit certain locations. You can visit the gym at any time during operating hours, but if reception hours are limited, you should go when the front desk is open.

In the case that you decide to join on the spot you need to bring your ID in order to start a membership, but online registration is also available.

Of course, you can also apply without observing beforehand. However, I recommend you do check it out first, especially if it is your first time joining a gym in Japan.

How to Pay a Membership Fee

You may think account transfer payments are very common in Japan. For instance you also have to pay monthly fees by electronic transfer from your bank account. For gym memberships you can apply and pay either at the gym or online, but when you apply online you will need to go to the gym to complete it afterward. However gyms do recommend web application because it shortens the time for procedures at the gym. Applying online also has another merit: 24/7 availability.

Unfortunately, although the monthly membership fee itself can be paid by account transfer after you have already become a member, you have to pay an entrance fee, handling fee (to issue your membership card), and membership fee for the first 2 months (it takes about 2 months to complete account transfer procedures) by cash. The membership fee varies by the plan, and you should ask the reception staff about the best plan for you. If you haven’t opened your bank account yet, credit cards are accepted at some gyms. And finally, though it should go without saying, you must bring your ID with you to apply (passport is acceptable).