Basics of Japanese Gym Etiquette | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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Basics of Japanese Gym Etiquette

By Margherita Oct 5, 2021

Working out, whether at the gym, at your local park, or a yoga studio, is something that is so important for both our physical and mental health. Nevertheless, going to a Japanese gym for the first time can be intimidating due to the linguistic barrier and cultural differences.

Japanese Gym Etiquette Tips to Help You Feel Confident

To help you smash your first workout, we are giving you some useful tips and inside tricks to help you feel confident at the gym.

Getting Ready

You won’t be allowed to use outdoor shoes inside the gym, both private and public, so make sure to pack a pair of shoes you will be able to use inside the gym.

Bringing a small towel to wipe your sweat – and tears – is also a good idea.

When you enter the locker room, take your shoes off and place them either inside your locker or on a dedicated shelf. Locker keys come attached to a bracelet that you can easily carry around the gym on your wrist. Do not leave your backpack or valuables unattended, as many gyms will not take responsibility if anything is stolen.

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Working Out

When using the machines, try not to stay on the same one for a long time, so that everyone can use it. If you’re doing many sets with a considerable break in between each set, step aside in case anyone wants to use the same machine while you rest.

If using a particular machine such as a squat rack or benches, you probably need to book your slot either by confirming with the staff or by writing down your name on a whiteboard placed just next to the machine. 

The first space is reserved for the person currently using it, who has to fill in his or her name (initials are also fine) and finishing time. In the spaces below, people who want to use the machine afterwards can book the subsequent slots in the same way. 

Be sure to check the time limit as most of those reservation-based machines have one (usually 20 or 30 minutes).

Training in a group or giving someone a personal training session is prohibited in many public gyms, so be sure to check with the staff beforehand.

COVID-19 Related Safety Measures

Make sure you’re correctly wearing your mask, covering both your mouth and nose at all times and bring a spare one just in case you need to replace it throughout your workout.

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, all machines were provided with a cloth used to wipe down the equipment after using it as a basic hygiene measure. With COVID-19, reusable cloths have been replaced with disposable paper towels, which, along with alcohol spray bottles, are installed at various points around the gym. Use the provided alcohol and paper tissues to thoroughly wipe down the machine, weights, handles, and mats after you finish using them and dispose of the paper towels in the provided bins.

Covering Tattoos

Tattoos are still a controversial topic in Japan because they are still recognized as a symbol of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. Many gyms will require you to cover up your tattoos by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long sweatpants. For smaller tattoos, the alternative could be buying some small patches or arm or leg sleeves, like those usually used for sun protection, to cover up a bigger portion of tattooed skin. Be sure to check with the staff about the gym’s regulations when signing up, as not doing so can lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both parties.

Nailing Japanese Gym Etiquette

Now that you know the basics of gym etiquette in Japan, all you need to do is grab your shoes and show up confidently at your local gym!

For More Gym-Related Articles:

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