July 10, 2018

Working Out on the Go

Health enthusiasts often want to get in a workout even when traveling and this article will show you the best options for doing so in Japan.

A woman runs through the hills of where she's traveling to in Japan as a way of getting in a workout

What’s up fellow gym rats and fitness freaks!

Rather than examine another off the beaten path destination, today we’re going to be taking a look at how you can stay in shape while traveling in Japan. If you’re anything like me, you can’t go a single day without working up a serious sweat. Nevertheless, finding a suitable time and place to sneak in a workout can be a real challenge for overseas visitors if you don’t know where to look. Fret not though! If you follow the tips below you should be able to find a suitable gym or other alternative nearby no matter your location. Just remember to go a little extra hard on the cardio so you can totally indulge in Japan’s amazing food culture!

Japan Travel Workout Option One: The Hotel Gym

A traveler sneaks in a workout at the hotel gym while traveling in Japan

This is by far the best and simplest option for those who just need to get a serious workout in. Especially when on the go, it can be extremely difficult to both budget enough time to find a gym and get your rear end to it. Because of this, it’s far more convenient to just stay somewhere that already has what you need. Even if the hotel only a bare-bones setup, having some options for weights and cardio within a few minutes of your room will vastly increase the chances that you stay compliant. After all, as the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail…

Japan Travel Workout Option Two: Public Facilities

A woman works out while traveling in Japan at a public facility owned by the ward she is staying in

In larger cities, such as Tokyo and Osaka, many of the wards will have their own sports and fitness facilities for local residents. Often times, these venues are open to the public for a nominal fee of a couple hundred yen. If you can’t find a hotel with a set of weights, this may very well be your best alternative. Personally, I am partial to the facilities in the Komazawa Olympic Park. Here, over half a century ago, Japan first hosted the 1964 Olympic Games; many of the facilities built for these competitions are still in use today. Be sure to do a bit of Googling before coming to see if these public options can work for you!

Japan Travel Workout Option Three: Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness is a great option for those looking to get in a workout while traveling in Japan

Those of you holding Anytime Fitness memberships will be able to access any of their three hundred or so facilities in Japan. While locations are generally limited to the major metropolitan areas, it’s still quite the handy option for those holding memberships. As the name implies, Anytime Fitness is open 24 hours a day which gives it a leg up over other international options. Additionally, though it depends on the individual gyms, all of the Anytime Fitness gyms that I’ve been to have provided free Wi-Fi (which can be a godsend for guests from overseas). Check Anytime Fitness’ official page for more information about locations.

Japan Travel Workout Option Four: Venture Outside

A woman traveling in Japan works out by running around Tokyo’s Imperial Palace

Can’t find a gym? Again, fret not! Japan has plenty of open green spaces for you to get an outdoor workout in. In fact, if you’re a runner or a jogger, the Imperial Palace has a famous five kilometer course that is very popular with the locals. It traces the former moat of Edo Castle (which went on to become the Imperial Palace). Even on weekdays, you’ll find an assortment of ages and genders working up a sweat as they make their way around the circumference of this historic site. Truth be told, I can’t think of a better way to sample some of Japan’s rich cultural heritage while burning unwanted fat!

Japan Travel Workout Option Five: Your Room

A traveler does yoga in her hotel room as a form of working out while traveling in Japan

Too booked to make time for the gym? Well, as any fitness aficionado likely knows, this is no excuse for not getting a workout in! Despite the confines of a small Japanese hotel room, it’s possible to finagle a quick yoga session or some calisthenics in before heading out for the day. My go-to exercises when on the run tend to be body weight squats and push-ups as these can be done just about anywhere. For extra results, be sure to do a few reps before eating breakfast for the day. This will ensure that most of what you consume goes into the muscle instead of taking up residence on your waist.

Japan Travel Workout Option Six: Sightseeing

Lanterns line the stairs leading up to northern Kyoto’s Kifune Shrine

This last suggestion goes out to fellow North Americans who are accustomed to driving everywhere. You see, the simple act of getting from place to place here is often cited as one of the reasons why Japanese remain so slim. The daily amount of distance that people walk in Japan far outweighs that of car cultures. As an additional challenge, the majority of cool spots in Japan require one to negotiate lengthy flights of stairs. No doubt, sightseeing can often double as a long session of mild cardio. Perhaps you can enjoy that bowl of oily ramen guilt free after all!