To keep bottom line fit, gyms offer personal training sessions

Kyodo

Fitness clubs are promoting personal training programs to lure customers at a time when corporate clients are bailing to save costs in a stagnant economy.

A 30-year-old woman in Kawasaki said she joined a fitness club run by Konami Sports & Life Co. in February after discovering she had gained weight and was coming up short of breath while taking the stairs.

The woman, who requested anonymity, joined the My Fit Planner program Konami launched last November at some 180 clubs nationwide. In addition to the standard membership fees, customers are charged a hefty ¥3,150 per hour.

The program gauges strength and fat to muscle ratios, among other factors, using ultrasound scans. The results are then put into a computer together with the customers’ weight, blood pressure and other data, allowing the instructors to put together a specific training program tailored to their needs.

“I would like to undergo the training three times a week,” the woman said, adding her regimen includes plenty of exercises aimed at toning her stomach and thighs.

Participants can gauge the benefits of the program during regular reassessments. Despite extra fees, around 80 percent of Konami’s members are on the program, the company said.

It is effective because the instructors can make “appropriate proposals” based on the data of each member, said Konami manager Kensaku Tanaka.

Central Sports Co. also offers personal training programs at about 130 of its fitness clubs across the country.

“Since middle-aged and older members wishing to get rid of pain in their knees and lower back are increasing in number, we would like to teach them correct ways of exercising through the program,” said Shuji Fudauchi, a senior manager at Central Sports.

The employees begin by observing members’ posture and running them through light exercises after undergoing stretching to correct abnormal tilts in the pelvis and other body parts.

At a minimum cost of ¥6,300 per hour, the program has continued to see sales soar at a rate of around 20 percent since it was launched in 2006.

Meanwhile, Renaissance Inc. is trying to improve both the physical health and mental well-being of its members through a program designed to activate the brain.

The company’s Synapsology program requires participants to move their arms and legs asymmetrically and to stimulate their five senses by using such simple tools as a scarf.

Renaissance started the program at studios and swimming pools at some 80 clubs nationwide last April. The response has been favorable, with customers saying they feel more refreshed or focused. Renaissance is also introducing the program at physical rehabilitation facilities it has formed tieups with, company officials say.

The program is designed to be enjoyable even for people who find exercising difficult, according to Misao Mochizuki, a corporate officer at Renaissance.