A Cheaper Option for Casual Gymgoers

When settling into a new place, keeping up with your fitness can tend to become less of a priority. I know that for me at least, a person with a more casual attitude towards working out, finding a new gym was not my first priority when I first moved to Tokyo. No, that first year (okay, lets be honest...two years) were more about just eating my way through Japan and going out on weekends. Safe to say I let myself go a little bit, and when I did start to look for gyms again, I was taken aback by the hefty price tag of some of the membership-only gyms that are around. As a student, I rarely want to spend any money at all if possible, and spending around 20,000 yen/month to go to the gym twice a week felt like something I was not prepared to do. 

But don't lose hope just yet, for there is another way. 

Of course, anything outdoors is generally free and a great option. There are outdoor gyms in most of the larger parks and you can run anywhere. If you are like me, however, and running feels more like a punishment than anything, and you just want to lift some weights or watch Netflix while doing some mindless cardio on a bike or elliptical, the safety of an indoor gym is a must. This becomes especially true in the summer where the air conditioner is your best friend and just existing outdoors feels like a challenge.

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Allow me to introduce to you the quite rare but very much available, pay-by-use municipal gyms in Japan. If you go onto your preferred search engine and type in 区民(kumin) or 市民(shimin), depending on if you live in a 市(shi) or 区(ku), together with either スポーツセンター (sports center) or 体育館 (taiikukan=gymnasium), the closest one will probably pop up on the map. They are run by the local government and usually offer access to gyms with a good mix of free weights and machines, as well as pools and different classes such as Yoga or Pilates. The prices vary from around 200 to 600 yen depending on the area and the gyms are open to everyone, not just residents (even if they usually get a discount if they bring their residence card). If you are strictly looking for a pool, some schools open up theirs to the public on weekends or weeknights. Information about this can be found on your municipal office's website, or in the pamphlet that you probably got when moving in. If you threw that away after two weeks (like me), then just a simple phone call or visit to either the main or branch office can give you all the information you are looking for. 

Another great gym is the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, the 東京体育館, in Sendagaya just east of Shinjuku. It is 600 yen for 2.5 hours and gives you access to two different gyms and a pool area. 

For more serious gym-goers, a membership might feel like a better fit, but if you are a short-term resident or someone who moves around a lot, this might be a good solution for you. Be aware that the availability of showers might vary for the cheaper gyms though, so maybe don't go check it out for the first time when you are meeting people for dinner afterwards.

I may or may not have done this. 



Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium https://www.tef.or.jp/tmg/en_index.jsp

Shinjuku Sports center http://www.shinjuku-sportscenter.com/

Nakano Sports center http://www.nakano-taiikukan.com/nakano/

Meguro Sports center http://www.city.meguro.tokyo.jp/shisetsu/shisetsu/sports_shisetsu/center_gym/index.html

Ikebukuro Sports center http://www.ikespo.jp/index.php

Koto Sports center http://www.koto-hsc.or.jp/sports_center1/