Gym Membership

Marty convinced me to join the local gym.  We signed up on Sunday and now I need to work up the nerve to actually go.  This is not because I think people will laugh at my dreadful fitness level but because there are 75 rules of conduct for using it.  It took my Japanese teacher an hour to translate these and then another hour to go through the additional instructions I had been given.

Marty broke a rule while entering the gym on Sunday as he didn’t remove his shoes at the entrance.  I was dawdling along behind him and saw a couple of other people remove their shoes, so didn’t make the same mistake.  (My enthusiasm for signing up was evident in my reluctance to enter.)

I know that there are rules for using gyms in the U.K. but I can’t remember being explicitly told that it was forbidden to drink alcohol inside the gym.  Here there are lots of rules about shoes, but then wearing appropriate foot wear is an important part of the culture.  I find it odd that tattoos are forbidden but this also seems to be a cultural issue.

There are some rules that amused me:

  • Don’t dye your hair in the shower room
  • Don’t do your laundry in the shower room
  • Don’t read newspapers or magazines in the sauna or steam room
  • Don’t scrub or exfoliate your skin in the sauna
  • No gargling is allowed at the water fountain
  • Don’t wear jeans or skirts during aerobic classes

I find it odd to provide such explicit rules.  Why say that you can’t do your laundry in the shower room?  Is it O.K. to do this in the swimming pool or in the spa?  I imagine not, but when I see rules like this I start to wonder if I can do anything I want as long as there is no rule against it.

There was a a whole separate page on how to use the swimming pools.  I’m not sure I want to actually try swimming.  Before you enter the pool you have to sign some sort of health-check sheet and have your blood pressure taken (and it seems you do this every time you go).  You also must wear a swimming cap – something about hair clogging up filters.  I don’t own a swimming cap and my Japanese teacher thinks I’m going to need to buy one for a child as my head is small.  She said I would look cute.

Then there are the instructions on how to use the lanes.  There are one-way lanes, u-turn lanes, beginner lanes, and  lanes that you can only front-crawl in.  There are directions on the proper way to overtake a slow swimmer.  Seriously it tells me that I can only overtake on the right.  There are also the expected rules about noise, splashing, diving, walking…  I wasn’t actually expecting there to be rules about how to stop and walk in the swimming pool but it seems that the madness is endless.  And then there is the mysterious rule that states it’s O.K. to wear gloves in the pool.  Neither my teacher or I could come up with any explanation for that.

Given how horrified I am with the whole thing I have rang a Japanese friend who is going to go with me to the gym tomorrow.  I’m hoping that if the staff start to yell at us for our stupidity that she can at least translate for me.

7 Responses to “Gym Membership”

  1. Hails Says:

    I used to go swimming in Estonia, where they also had the various confusing lanes and rules about overtaking, although I didn’t bother to translate most of them. Japan really takes it to a whole new level! I love the laundry one. And I suggest you go to an aerobics class dressed in biking leathers or a clown suit. Or just naked. 🙂 There’s no rule against it…

  2. Jessica Marie Says:

    This made me laugh. You are a brave woman, Karen.

  3. karen Says:

    Hails, I think I will keep my clothes on – at least in the areas where other people are dressed 🙂 There are rules about taking off your swim wear before going to the shower area.

    Jessica, I don’t feel very brave. I hope that forcing myself to go with someone else will at least make me pretend that I am.

  4. Alan in Belfast Says:

    Sounds like a private club that needs a membership exam. You’ve been given the “Highway Code” but now need lessons in order to pass the “Driving Test”.

    Do keep us up to date on the next chapter of this adventure – we’ll be expecting a “cute” photo as evidence!

  5. karen Says:

    Just because Ohata-san thinks I would look cute in a pink bathing cap complete with flowers doesn’t mean that I will actually buy one!

  6. steve Says:

    My understanding – which is based largely on Beat Takeshi movies, so I could be wrong – is that there’s an assumed association between “showing tattoos in public” and “being a member of the Yakuza”, so the no tattoos rule is probably designed as an anti-gang measure.

  7. karen Says:

    I suppose I did know that tattoos were related to gangs. And it’s probably much simpler to say “No Tattoos” than “No Gangsters”.