Heading to Japan for a holiday? Planning to work-out while you’re over there? I’ve got a couple of tips for you!

While on a recent holiday to Japan, my boyfriend and I had been eating, shopping and adventuring our way through Tokyo, having an amazing time! It wasn’t until about 5 days in that we woke up feeling like CRAP! I dare say it was thanks to days and days of being out of our normal routine, the lack of sleep, drinking less water and adding in those extra beverages were all catching up with us. While enjoying our breakfast and coffee that morning, we researched a few different gyms in the area we could try out. After we found a few gyms around where we were staying in Shinjuku, we headed off for our workout.

If only it was that easy! Our “quick gym-based workout” turned into pretty much a whole-day adventure!! Being in a country where there’s not much English… At all, ANYWHERE! Things become a little harder than normal.

After a 10-minute walk we arrived at the first gym, found a staff member, tried to get a day pass but the response we got was not what we wanted: No day passes, so off we went to the next one. We were walking for about 15 minutes when, of course only when we don’t know where we are or how to get where we need to go, Google maps starts playing up on us. We eventually found our way back to somewhere familiar and began our search again.

We found another gym and got the same answer. After walking out of the third gym we had tried that morning and feeling a little defeated, we had started to think our gym workout was becoming more trouble that it was worth. However, after a debrief over another coffee and some quick mapping out, we decided to try one last place. We were both committed to this workout because even though it had been such a pain so far, we knew how much better we would feel afterwards. It couldn’t all be for nothing!!

We got on the train, went a few stops over and finally made it to a facility that offered day passes!! Hoo-ray!!

But it turned out our dramas weren’t over just yet. We were trying to communicate to the young guy who worked there that we wanted 2 day passes, finally sorted out our entry fee, went to walk upstairs to where the gym was, before being stopped by another staff member who wanted to know where our shoes were. As you can imagine, we thought this was a pretty strange question, “they’re on our feet?”. To which the woman working at the gym answered, “No, cannot use”. We asked, “well… what are we supposed to use – these are our training shoes?” to which she told us, “No. Dirty.”

By this point, I was trying my best to stay as calm and upbeat as possible, while asking “What does that mean? Can we still use the gym?”

After looking to my boyfriend not knowing what to do, I felt like I was about to explode. We needed to know, so he started up the Google Translate app again, which is when he discovered we were able to use the gym, we just had to rent gym shoes! Which I found a little annoying and a little gross but also understood, because in Japanese culture it’s considered rude to wear shoes inside as soil, sand or dust can be tracked onto the floor.

With all of that FINALLY sorted and my rent-a-shoes on, I was more than ready to vent out some of the days’ frustrations in this workout!!

Standing at the entrance to the gym the first thing we noticed was how, like everything else in Japan, it’s all very different from home in Aus. Their gyms equipment is pretty much all cardio focused with only basic weights sections.

We had a walk around to check out the different machines and setups they had. Once you see their gyms, you realise how spoilt for choice and quality we are in Australia.

We got through our workout and pretty much laughed the whole time. We were watched throughout the whole thing, maybe it was because they wanted to see how we worked out, maybe it was because I was lifting heavier weights than the other men in the gym. A couple times other gym goers would try out the machine we had just finished on to try what we had done.


Okay, hopefully your workout in japan will be a much more pleasant experience than mine! Here’s a couple tips to make sure it is:

  • No tattoos: tattoos in japan are correlated with gang affiliation and if you have visible tattoos you will not be allowed to use gyms… or bath houses
  • No outside shoes: the Japanese always have “outside” and “training” shoes, be sure to bring both pairs along!
  • Don’t have your mind set on a particular piece of equipment: As you can imagine, gyms, just like everything else in Tokyo can get very crowded. On some things you are required to write your name to essentially ‘hire’ it for a block of time. Also, they may not have that piece of equipment all together
  • Anytime fitness: is probably the easiest to gain access to, especially if you’re already a member here in Aus, they’re everywhere in Japan
  • Google Translate: is a lifesaver! Download it, make sure you figure how to use it before you go, save yourself some hassle

My final Suggestions:

  • Get training out of your system before you go
  • Find a quiet park and make yourself a body weights circuit
  • If you have enough space… Hotel rooms in Japan are very small! Do a workout in your room