《Special Feature》Realize Your Full Potential at the AGU Fitness Center

The AGU Fitness Center has all you need and more to reach your fitness-related goals

When it comes to fitness, we all come from diverse backgrounds, but one thing that everyone can agree on is that staying strong and healthy, both physically and mentally, can have a great impact on our overall wellbeing. Whether it is your first time stepping into a gym, or whether you have been exercising for years, the Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU) Fitness Center (FC) has everything you need and more to reach your fitness-related goals. With a wide selection of machines and weights, and a dedicated team of on-site staff to support you, the FC is the perfect place to bring your health to the next level!

The affordability, ease of access, and well-rounded equipment selection of the AGU FC make it a wonderful place to pursue your health goals, whether you are a long-time gym-goer or just starting out.

Kanami Seo

Exchange student from San Diego State University, United States
College of Education, Psychology, and Human Studies

If you’re already well-acquainted with gyms, you can get right back into it

I love working out, and have been active for most of my life, so when I was coming to AGU, I was on the lookout for gyms in Tokyo. Compared to the United States, gyms can be expensive in Japan, so I was happy when I discovered that there was a fitness center available right on campus, and the accessibility and affordability is hard to beat. You’ll pay less for a full-year membership at the AGU FC than you will for a single month at other gyms in Tokyo!

Signing up is easy—just stop by the FC and ask the staff for help. They will explain the steps to get registered to use the gym. You will need to attend an orientation session (held in either Japanese or English), and the membership fee is 3,000 yen. The orientation will cover everything you need to know about using the FC. The trainers can explain how to use the equipment and machines, or if you’re well-acquainted with gyms already, you can get right back into it. There is even a registered dietician on staff, so you can ask her for advice on nutrition and healthy foods. The AGU FC has all the resources and space I need to keep working towards my fitness goals of staying in shape and building muscle.

Working out allows me to clear my mind and gain a sense of accomplishment

At my home university gym, it was always really loud. People would be talking all the time. In comparison, the AGU FC has a quieter atmosphere where people are mostly focusing on their exercise. I generally keep to myself as well when working out, unless I come with friends, in which case I’ll chat with them during a workout. The FC also offers all kinds of group lessons and classes if that is your preference, and these are all included in your yearly membership. The trainers here are all very friendly and approachable if you ever need help. Some staff members can speak English, so even my friends without strong Japanese ability are able to use the FC without feeling a language barrier.

Beyond making me feel physically stronger, working out is a way for me to clear my mind, especially after a long day of classes, and gain a sense of accomplishment. It is so easy to visit the FC with its convenient location on campus, so if you are interested in improving your fitness, try it out!

Reece Berry

Exchange student from Salisbury University, United States
School of International Politics, Economics, and Communication

It is a very supportive community here, and a great place to make new friends.

I’ve been using the AGU FC since the beginning of the semester, and it has been a wonderful way to stay in shape and maintain my fitness for the rugby season when I go back to my home university. Everyone here is very friendly, the staff are helpful, and no one’s judgmental.

English-speaking staff are happy to offer in-person assistance

The FC is a place where all students, faculty, and staff are welcome. With this in mind, if you are not yet confident in your Japanese abilities, there are English-speaking staff available to help you during your visit. Many international students also frequent the FC, and the friendly atmosphere makes it a great place to make gym buddies or even practice language exchange.

NEZU Atori

AGU FC Trainer, AGU Women's Volleyball Team Trainer

I spent four years studying at a university in the United States, and during that time was a student trainer, working with various university sports teams, most often American football. These days I also serve as the trainer for the women’s volleyball team, but I am often in the FC and will be happy to advise you towards reaching your fitness goals!

*Information as of January 2024 at the time of interview.

Targeted Training Tip
-Exercises to start you on your strength-building journey

With so much equipment to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin, but it can often be beneficial to start by training three of the largest muscles in your body: your chest, back, and legs. To strengthen these so-called “basic three,” the FC trainers can start you off by introducing the best machines to work those muscle groups. These are the chest press, lat pulldown, and leg press machines. From your first visit, with in-person guidance by training staff, you can be sure that you are completing the exercises with correct form and avoiding any risk of injury. You will likely feel sore after your first time, but that’s a sign you’re getting stronger!

Leg Press: Building a strong lower-body base

The leg press is a great way to strengthen your entire leg: your quadricep, glute, hamstring, and calf muscles. However, when you are extending your legs, it is important to avoid fully locking out your knees during the press—think of instead making a 170-degree angle with your legs—to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your joints rather than muscles. Once you become comfortable with using one machine and feel your muscles working, it becomes easier to try new machines and expand your workout repertoire.

As someone who was unfamiliar with gym equipment, I was a bit hesitant to start coming to the FC at first, but it has now become an integral part of my university life. I’ve been able to get physically stronger, while having a good time and making friends along the way.


Junior student
Department of Business, School of Business

After learning the basics of each exercise, I could build up my knowledge and confidence to plan my own workouts

During my junior high school and high school years, I played basketball, but it was only after entering university that I ventured into weight training. The affordability of the FC made for a low hurdle, and I needed to stay fit anyway after I stopped playing basketball. I was unsure at first whether I would enjoy it, so during the first couple of months I’d occasionally use the treadmills between or after classes. Slowly but surely, working out has become more enjoyable and the frequency of my visits to the FC has increased.

I didn’t really know how to use gym equipment at first, but the trainers in the FC taught me the basics of each exercise, allowing me to build up my own knowledge and confidence to plan my own workouts. Thanks to their instructions, I could really feel which muscles I was working and gain a better sense of control of my movements. And most importantly, I can prevent getting injured. Other more experienced students at the gym are also very friendly, and if they notice your form on a machine is not good, they’ll give you advice on how to use it more effectively and safely. As for the other students who use the FC, in my experience, the bigger and more muscular they are, the more kind they are, so don’t feel intimidated to ask others for help if you need it!

Advice from the registered dietician on staff has helped me steadily gain muscle

At first, my goals were to use the FC as a way to stay active and to be a change of pace from academic life, but as I learned more and started to train more seriously, I began to notice positive changes physically, like improved posture and reduced fatigue in daily life. With dedicated training, I could see big results like increased strength and muscle mass within a month. To achieve my fitness goals, I realized the importance of nutrition, and sought guidance from Ms. ITO, the FC’s registered dietician, on what kinds of food to eat to stay healthy and build muscle. I gradually increased the number of calories I would eat in each meal, allowing me to steadily gain muscle. My improved eating habits have also improved my sleep quality.

In several respects, the FC has become a staple of my university life. Not only has my physical and mental health benefitted from regular exercise, but there is a social element too. The FC has a very friendly atmosphere, and most users are around the same age, so it is easy to meet “gym buddies.” That means that every visit can be one to look forward to.

Receive tailored nutrition advice from an expert

ITO Nanami

AGU FC Registered dietician

While exercising is important for improving your physical health, the food you eat is just as vital. The AGU FC has a registered dietician, ITO Nanami, on staff, who is happy to offer advice on how to best improve your fitness through nutrition. You can consult her with your individual questions, or attend group seminars on topics such as dieting, preventing dyslipidemia, and having strong bone health. Visit the AGU FC website (Japanese only) to deepen your knowledge about nutrition and find several healthy recipes that you can try for yourself!

AGU FC Kitchen (Japanese only)

Targeted Training Tip
-Bringing your everyday condition to the next level

Working out at the FC is about much more than just building muscle and lifting heavy weights. Many exercises can have a noticeable impact on your overall physical condition, including your posture. As we spend increasing amounts of time craning our necks over smartphone and computer screens, it is more important than ever to strengthen the muscle groups that support good posture. Targeting the right muscles in workouts will make a substantial difference in correcting imbalances in your body.

Lat Pulldown: Helping you stand up tall

Another one of the “basic three” exercises, the lat pulldown targets the latissimus dorsi muscle, the broadest muscle in your back. This is a critical muscle for promoting good posture, and its large size means that when you are just getting started, you will feel fast progress. The lat pulldown also works your arm, shoulder, and core muscles, making it a versatile exercise for developing your entire upper body.

Lifting weights in the AGU FC and receiving guidance from the training staff has elevated my game this past year, and contributed to great results for the baseball team as a whole.

AGU Baseball Team
2024 CARNEXT SAMURAI JAPAN SERIES 2024 JAPAN (Top team) vs TEAM EURO, Player (Outfielder)


Senior student
Department of Law, Faculty of Law

I use the FC nearly every day and want to keep training year-round to perform to my best ability

I have been playing baseball from the age of three. My father always loved baseball, so I grew up watching and playing it. I joined my first team in elementary school and went on to play in junior high school and high school before joining the team at AGU. Last spring, we were fortunate to take first place in the 72nd Japan National Collegiate Baseball Championship, and I believe that the serious dedication to weight training from the previous winter was linked to that result. The FC is located close to my team dormitory, and being able to use the well-equipped facilities even during after-hours gives us a big advantage.

Unfortunately, our team saw a drop in performance in the fall league(54th Meiji-Jingu Baseball Tournament), and I think this can be attributed to less consistent weight training. Now, I use the FC nearly every day and would like to keep training year-round to make sure I can perform to my best ability. I like to focus on exercises that strengthen my core, but also lifts like squats, which improve my batting and pitching. I did not have much experience with weight training before coming to AGU, but since I started, I have noticed a big improvement in my power and overall performance.
The AGU FC is a great place to work on your fitness, whether you are part of a sports team or not. If you are intimidated by weights, you can start out by using cardio machines, and then slowly start getting familiar with other equipment. The trainers on staff will help you if you are unsure, and you can always ask other students for help. It is a nice environment and I have also been able to befriend some other regulars at the FC, such as members of the basketball team.

Bringing new methodology into team warmups

The support of our team trainer Mr. WATANABE has been crucial for the success of our team. Under his guidance, last year we started doing all-team warmups before our practices, as well as running drills. Before, warming up used to be done individually, but by having everyone do it together, I think it has made us more unified as a team. Another recent addition to our warmups is “Aogaku Conditioning(AGU original training method practiced by many AGU athletes)”, which is a special series of dynamic conditioning exercises. This has helped me increase my range of motion while also increasing the stability and efficiency of my movements.

Thanks to the explanations of Mr. WATANABE, I have been able to understand the reasoning behind the different exercises that we do, and am now able to incorporate them into my own workouts. Our all-team warmups are quite unique compared to other university teams, and combined with everyone’s hard efforts over the past year, I think they have contributed to our strong tournament results. Drawing on the experience and learnings from the previous seasons, I would like to make this year our best one yet.

Muscle training results in so much more than just changing how you look. With increased muscle mass comes a higher metabolism, making your body more resistant to weight gain and promoting a healthier appearance. Moreover, scientific evidence shows a direct link between exercise and the release of serotonin, the “happiness hormone,” having a positive effect on mental well-being.

WATANABE Toshinobu

AGU FC Trainer, AGU Baseball Team Trainer, AGU Men's Basketball Team Trainer

The FC has three guiding principles: Health, Physical Education, and Re-creation

The AGU FC was established to welcome all students wanting to acquire knowledge and skills relating to exercise, and to promote their health and wellbeing into their futures. In conjunction with academic studies, we believe that having this element of “physical education” will help students in their future contributions to society. With this objective in mind, the FC has three guiding principles: Health, Physical Education, and Re-creation.
Health is the most straightforward, as we want all students using the FC to improve their health. Physical Education goes beyond the typical “P.E.” classes in school, and refers to actively engaging one’s own body to derive effects from exercise, and gaining a deeper understanding of those effects. Re-creation is the concept of creating and fostering new ideas, perspectives, and personal growth through physical activity. Exercise is not only about bodily movement, but also contributes to the holistic development of individuals, both physically and mentally.

With these three principles, the FC was established in 2004, and currently has two locations, in the Aoyama Campus and in the Sagamihara Campus. With the easy access, many non-athlete students come to the FC to work on their own fitness. Since for many students it is their first time working out in a gym, the trainers actively guide beginners, providing orientation sessions to help them use equipment and gain foundational knowledge about exercise and nutrition. For students from abroad, we make sure that they can receive an orientation in English if they wish. The facility rules can differ compared to what you are used to in your home country, so this is an important step for familiarizing yourself with Japanese gym culture.

We try to educate students to help them understand what each exercise is for and the effects it will have

For most students that come to the FC, their primary goals are to improve their health, correct their posture, or get into shape. To help them accomplish these goals, we start them off with the exercises which have the biggest impact, namely those that work on the “basic three” muscles of the chest, legs, and back. We put a strong emphasis on proper form for each exercise, ensuring that students can maximize their muscle engagement. The FC also has programs available for beginners and trainers are happy to give you tailored advice.

There are still many misconceptions when it comes to fitness, such as thinking that weight training will make your legs bulky. We try to educate students to not only dispel such misconceptions, but also to give them the knowledge and scientific basis to understand what each exercise is for, and the effects it will have on you. As this knowledge and experience builds, you will be able to work out independently with confidence. This makes it easier and more enjoyable to come to the FC, and you’ll start seeing exercise as not something you “have to” do, but rather something that feels good to do. Mental and emotional well-being are also critical for leading a balanced student life, so utilizing exercise to boost your mood and reduce stress can contribute to a positive cycle of all-around health. The release of serotonin resulting from exercise can also help you loosen up and feel refreshed.

Getting started with working out is the hardest part, but we try to make it as easy as possible. Once you’ve gone through an orientation session and registered to use the FC, all you need to bring is workout attire, indoor shoes you can exercise in, and a gym towel. Sign in when you arrive, and if you want to join a group lesson, you can gather 10 minutes before the scheduled time to join—no need to make a reservation or come every week for those. The FC is a privilege of all AGU students, so all the staff here look forward to helping you reach your fitness goals and make the most of your campus life!

Exchange students who made the most of the Fitness Center (AGU LiFE)

The AGU FC is a popular spot for exchange students, and can be a great place for them to meet Japanese students. Everyone at the FC has their own individual health goals, but all share the common desire to improve their fitness. This positive environment makes the FC an ideal place for AGU students to make friends, socialize, and inspire one another to reach their goals.

Come and join us at the AGU Fitness Center!