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japanese
market
made in japan
David Minton gives an insight into the Japanese
fitness market, with a whistle-stop tour around
some of Tokyo’s more innovative clubs
‘I
rasshaimase’ is a Japanese the Marunouchi development near of the as-yet-undefi ned public sector,
greeting given to all customers Tokyo Station where the fourth largest although some private sector companies,
on entering a shop, restaurant fitness brand, Tipness, has taken space. like the colossus Konami Sports, manage
or fitness club. It literally The Japanese are experiencing an a large number of public facilities. In the
means ‘welcome’ and, although you’re L-shaped recession, which means the UK, this would mean companies like
not expected to answer it, can act as economic recovery is fragile and, unlike Nuffi eld Health, which work in both the
a nice introduction if you’re either shy, the UK, no-one is expecting this to public and private sectors, only putting
as many Japanese are, or if it’s your change before 2015 at the earliest. So forward their private sector numbers
first visit, when it can help break the it’s heartening to discover that the and ignoring the numbers generated by
ice. We’re going to hear it a lot as we private fi tness industry, as in the UK, their leisure management business.
embark on a whistle-stop tour of some has been quite resilient to this long- The ‘offi cial’ penetration rate –
of Tokyo’s more exciting fitness clubs. term economic downturn. which again only covers the private
Although the private sector recorded brands, independents and the newer,
market insight a fall in membership sales of 1.2 per smaller circuit/studio-based clubs –
Before I start the tour, let me provide cent in both 2007 and again in 2008, the shows a slight decrease of 0.1 per
an update on the industry in Japan. number of sites increased from 3,040 cent in both 2006 and 2007.
Although the Japanese economy has in 2007 to 3,269 in 2008. The clear
been in recession for a decade, which trend towards the end of this 10-year on tour
means salaries have been declining and recession is towards smaller format My tour starts in a railway station. If you
consumer demand has at best been clubs with either a circuit-based offering imagine layering the London mainline
stagnant, I’ve found few outward signs of or single studio/gym facility. stations of Victoria, Euston, Liverpool
this economic slowdown. There are no When I talk about the UK having a Street and Paddington into just one
empty shops, as in many town centres penetration rate four times higher, at 12 station, you’ll get an idea of the size of
across the UK, and no heavy per cent, there is some consternation mainline stations in Tokyo. Between all
concentrations of charity shops, while about how it can be so different between these layers at Ueno Station, railway
the equivalent of the pound shops are our two island countries – but then I engineers found some non-commercial
well hidden. New developments are full discover we’re not comparing like with ‘floating’ space which they converted
as soon as they open; a good example is like. The ‘offi cial’ fi gures are not inclusive into a Jexer Fitness and Spa Club. This is
not the first club at a railway station but,
at 5,000sq m (54,000sq ft), it’s the
“It’s heartening to discover that the private
biggest. The entrance has that Harry
fi tness industry, as in the UK, has been quite
Potter feel about it as you walk along
platform 17 and drop down through a
resilient to the economic downturn”
doorway, descending into the club while
trains speed past just a few feet away.
The Liberty Hill Club is modelled on a US-style country club and includes a two-court indoor tennis dome on the roof
36 Read Health Club Management online march 2010 © cybertrek 2010
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