Sports club usage in Japan


Do you use a sports club or fitness club? graph of japanese statisticsI did get as far as going to look round a sports club once, but the staff were not very friendly at all and the price was a bit high, so I gave up. I should try again somewhere else… To see how the Japanese view this topic, DIMSDRIVE Research recently performed a survey into sports clubs.


Between the 20th and 28th of February 2008 6,016 members of the DIMSDRIVE monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 55.7% of the sample was female, 1.5% in their teens, 20.0% in their twenties, 34.5% in their thirties, 25.3% in theire forties, 17.5% in their fifties, and 1.2% aged sixty or older.

I have been just the once to a fitness club in Japan in a hotel we were staying in, as we had a package that included free use of the facilities. The walking machine was fun, and the instructor helped us out with stretching exercises and the like, but then he introduced me to the stair machine which completely killed me in under 10 seconds. After that it was off to the hot tub and swimming pool, which is much more my idea of exercise!

In Q4 there is one type of training mentioned, 加圧, kaatsu, which is quite the popular fad in Japan amongst people on television. Basically you constrict bloodflow to your arms or legs and do a normal workout, and scientific studies in Japan have shown that for certain conditions and certain people it is better than normal exercise. To me it looks pretty dangerous, quite frankly! There’s very little English language information on this, and the scientific papers I see are split between those seeing an effect and those not.

Research results

Q1: Do you use a sports club or fitness club? (Sample size=6,061)

Currently using 8.2%
Used to use 35.4%
Never used (to Q8) 56.4%

For women, there was a definite slight upward trend for current users aged forty or older.

Q2: Which sports club or fitness club do/did you use? (Sample size=2,622)

  Current users
Previous users
Public sports club 22.4% 23.4%
Konami Sports (XAX) 16.6% 15.5%
Tipness 7.5% 6.1%
Central Sports 5.3% 8.7%
Renaissance 4.4% 5.5%
Tokyu Sports Oasis 3.6% 1.6%
Curves 2.0% 0.3%
Axtos 1.8% 0.8%
Sports Club NAS 1.6% 1.9%
JOYFIT 1.6% 0.3%
WOW’D 1.6% 0.3%
Fitness Club Cospa 1.4% 0.5%
Gold’s Gym 1.2% 0.1%
Megalos 1.2% 1.5%
Jexer 0.6% 0.3%
Other sports club 25.4% 16.7%
Don’t know, can’t remember 1.8% 16.5%

Those who used to use a sports club next answered Q7, those currently using a sports club continued on.

Q3: About how often do you use that sports club or fitness club? (Sample size=495)

Almost every day 6.7%
Three to six times a week 19.8%
Once or twice a week 45.4%
Twice or thrice a month 20.2%
Once a month 5.1%
Once every two or three months 1.8%
Once every six months 0.6%
Less than that 0.0%
Don’t know 0.0%

Q4: What do you often use, often do at that sports club or fitness club? (Sample size=495, multiple answer)

Gym, training machine 65.1%
Running, walking machine 45.7%
Swimming 37.8%
Hot tub, sauna 36.4%
Dance, aerobics 18.8%
Stretching, relaxation 17.6%
Aquabics, water walking 15.8%
Yoga 14.9%
Diet machines 9.5%
Pilates 7.9%
Fighting-related (boxercise, etc) 6.1%
Squash, tennis 4.4%
Massage, esthetics 4.0%
School, lessons 3.4%
Kaatsu (pressure-added, occlusion) training 3.0%
Golf 3.0%
Cafe, restaurant 3.0%
Buy goods at shop 2.8%
Osteopath, other treatment 1.0%
Other 5.5%
Nothing in particular 0.2%

Training machines and running were almost 20 percentage points more popular with men, whereas dance and aerobics was amost thrice as popular with women, and yoga almost four times.

Q5: Why do you use that sports club or fitness club? (Sample size=495, multiple answer)

To overcome a lack of exercise 75.4%
To maintain, recover health 74,7%
To improve, maintain muscle strength 62.8%
To cheer up, relieve stress 45.3%
To diet, to fight metabolic syndrome 41.6%
To shape my body 37.2%
Because I cannot continue exercise on my own 13.7%
Because they have specialised equipment 7.5%
To socialise with workmates, friends 6.5%
To get a training program that suits me 5.9%
Because friends asked me 4.6%
Other 2.4%
No particular reason 0.6%

By sex, the most notable difference was that 36.5% of men, but 52.2% of women went to cheer up or relieve stress. Interestingly, body sculpting was 12 percentage points more popular with men.

Q6: Why did you choose that sports club or fitness club? (Sample size=495, multiple answer)

Easy to get to 65.5%
Cheap joining, monthly fees 35.4%
Clean, spacious facilities 21.6%
Friends attend 17.6%
Opening hours (open until late, etc) 17.6%
Good atmosphere 14.7%
Sufficient training machines 12.5%
Good hot tub, sauna, etc 11.5%
Good staff, instructors 9.1%
Good lesson plab 8.5%
Sufficient sports available 7.1%
Good evaluation 6.5%
Good programs, training menues 6.3%
Corporate discounts, etc 6.1%
Large, famous company 4.6%
Can use other gyms in same chain 2.8%
Good massage, esthetic facilities 0.6%
Wide range of goods in shop 0.4%
Other 5.1%
No particular reason 2.0%

The above was the final question for current users of sports clubs.

Q7: Why did you stop using a sports club or fitness club? (Sample size=2,127, multiple answer)

Times didn’t suit, didn’t have time 38.9%
Circumstances changed (moved house, had children, etc) 26.2%
Got bored, got bothersome to go 24.8%
Difficult to get to location 18.3%
Couldn’t continue by myself 18.1%
Didn’t keep paying fees 15.1%
Wasn’t effective 7.4%
Crowded, difficult to make reservations 5.5%
Injured my body 3.6%
Staff, instructor attitude was bad 2.6%
Achieved my objectives 2.1%
Poor, difficult lessons, training menus 2.1%
Had problems with other people 0.8%
Other 6.3%
No particular reason, can’t remember 2.7%

Some of the other reasons were taking up tennis instead, too difficult to find parking, unhygenic facilities, noisy youths and I got a tattoo!

Q8: Might you want to use a sports club or fitness club in the future? (Sample size=5,521)

Want to use 46.4%
Don’t want to use 19.8%
Don’t know 33.8%

By age, younger people were not surprisingly more keen to use these facilities, except for men in their twenties.

Those who had previously attended a sports club were nearly twice as keen and those with no experience to want to use one in the future.

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