Jul 16, 2018
Before coming to Japan my only experience with gyms was at my university and a few dance classes at the local gym one summer in my hometown. At my university gym, I stuck to the bike machines because I could hit two birds with one stone and study while working out. I knew nothing about fitness and hated others seeing me sweat. Which i do, a lot. It was a huge hurdle in my fitness journey. But when I came to Japan, no one cared that I was sweaty. Nor did they care I was big. I began running everyday and my students loved that i was out exercising. Even my co-workers began encouraging me and I found camaraderie in running with one teacher in particular because he ran marathons. I was never that level, but it was the best way to make friends with my fellow teachers. When most Japanese think of fitness, their first thought isn't hitting the gym. The gym is only for weightlifters and swimmers. If you want to get fit then you join a sport. Any sport. Most Japanese are taught the proper way to train their body while they are in elementary school and middle school. After school club activities help kids learn that with practice, their bodies can do anything.
Sports day is an entire day focused on being active with nearly half of the school year dedicated to training and practicing.
They don't need to go to a gym to workout because they use their bodies by just being active in general. Mind you, many are naturally thin and fit without ever running a mile in their lives or working out any part of their bodies. There are still those Japanese who are naturally plump and are expected to get out and move just as much as everyone else. There is no one laugh about their rolls jiggling like my childhood in the states. As a big American who no matter how much she moves her body doesn't get much smaller, japans take on fitness is far more suited for becoming actually fit, not just thin. Like genkidesu said “ it seems like fitness here is more an "incidental" type of thing. “ everyone just happens to stay fit because they are taught to love sports and staying active from a young age. If you want to be thin, then there is a focus on less food not increased fitness. As a body-positive advocate, japans love of being active regardless of size pleases me.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too