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Since 2000, Central
Sports has incorporated
wellness into its
health club offering
Tokyo Sports Oasis brand, seventh in
the top 20 brands by value, operating
33 clubs in Tokyo and Osaka. This club
is closed every Monday.
From Ebisu it’s only one stop to
Shibuya, where Ridley Scott could easily
have fi lmed scenes from his futuristic
movie Blade Runner. I jump onto the
Tokyu Toyoko Line and head for Liberty
Hill Club. As the name suggests, this
facility is modelled on a US-style
country club, reduced in scale to fi t
a smaller Tokyo footprint. At £150 a
month it’s the most expensive club I will
visit on this trip and the standard, as
expected, has been raised again. Every who account for 22 per cent of the week for deep cleaning and maintenance.
inch of space is well used, from the membership, while the largest age group An eight-year-old sauna looks like new,
three-high car stacking system to the is surprisingly the 40-plus age group, with no sweat marks on the wood.
two-court indoor tennis dome on the who make up 27 per cent. There’s no sign of dust on any of the
roof. A golf driving range hangs off the ducting or those hard-to-reach places.
back wall. Inside we have a pool in the service with a smile The pools are engineered not to leak.
basement; the gym, with its personalised All the clubs mentioned – plus the ones I The equipment has no chip marks or
Life Fitness equipment in Liberty Hill didn’t have space to tell you about, like ‘out of order’ signs and looks as good
livery, is on the second fl oor; and there’s Konami, which has almost one million as the day it was installed. Cleaning
also a stunning doJo and a spa. The club members across some grand to of equipment and surfaces is ongoing
lounge is one of the most comfortable mediocre clubs, or Big Sport with its during the opening hours of a club.
and welcoming I’ve seen. ground-breaking posture analyser – have And then there’s the welcome: from
From the single site of Liberty Hill, I a number of things in common which the cleaner to the gym fl oor staff, the
head off to one of the serious family are not always so noticeable in UK clubs. receptionists to the beauticians and the
brands. Central Wellness Club at Seijo The Japanese expect and receive a level food and beverage staff, they all sing out
is part of Central Sports – the second of service – in hotels, restaurants, shops ‘Irasshaimase’ with a smile whenever you
largest brand in Japan with 160 sites and and their fitness clubs – that’s simply come into view. And yes, I really do feel
around 400,000 members, including incomprehensible when set alongside welcome, which is not always the case
130,000 children. The group started the often dire service levels we put up as I travel around the UK and Europe.
after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a with in the UK. Staffing ratios are far
swimming school; gymnastics came higher than any UK club could sustain: david minton
next, followed by outdoor sports in the to find four or five people just on
70s. In the 80s, fi tness was added and, reception is quite common. Dedicated
from 2000, wellness. The club has three gym floor assistants are highly trained
main memberships: £90 a month for a and ready to assist and advise customers We’re all familiar with David Minton
full adult membership, £60 off-peak, or as standard. The vast majority of clubs in his role as director of The Leisure
£56 for evenings only. The concept is have no dedicated sales staff, as Database Company – but what you
a ‘Wellness Town’ which includes a real everyone can do a tour and complete may not know is that he’s also visiting
thermal spring and spa area along with a new membership forms. researcher at the Research Institute
big gym and three studios. The Japanese also expect and receive for Sports Business at Waseda
The club appeals to a wide age group: a higher level of cleanliness than any University, Tokyo. His introductions
the second largest membership category other country I have visited. The at the IHRSA Asia-Pacific Forum
consists of those over 60 years old, majority of clubs close for one day a last November encouraged
discussion between the Fitness
“The Japanese receive a level of service that’s
Industry Associations of Japan and
the UK, and the two organisations
simply incomprehensible when set alongside
have now agreed to work together,
sharing knowledge with a view to
the service levels we put up with in the UK”
expanding the industry.
38 Read Health Club Management online march 2010 © cybertrek 2010
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