As the economic recession erodes the free time and resources of the
ever dwindling pool of potential fitness club clientele, club managers
struggle to attract and maintain members. Looking to the West, man-
agement continues to import and alter new trends in ‘‘American’’ fit-
ness, but, given the mixed reception of American fitness in Japan, what
does the future of the sport hold? Interestingly, the waves in fitness,
at times, seem to be at odds with the larger economic cycles of busi-
ness in Japan. Although the aerobics boom in the early and mid-1980s
coincided with the unprecedented success of the Japanese economy,
the securities and real estate collapse beginning in1990 does not seem
to have substantially affected the marketing and purchasing patterns
of fitness club management. Even though recent years have ushered in
dramatic corporate downsizing across Japan, fitness clubs continue to
operate as if the prosperous1980s had not faltered, continually upgrad-
programs, introduced to Japan in1996, is Spinning; it debuted in both
of the clubs where I conducted research.
The introduction and ultimate failure of Spinning-style aerobics to
the Japanese fitness scene presents an interesting case where globaliza-
tion, invention, and reinvention intersect on the fitness club floor. Sleek
and high-tech, Spinning bikes are unlike the sturdy, upright stationary
bicycles that are ubiquitous in fitness clubs in Japan and the United
States. Rather, they more closely resemble racing cycles, albeit station-
ary ones. The pedals and front wheel spin at extremely high speeds,
hence the name. Complete with toe clips, adjustable handlebars, and
tiny racing seats, Spinning bikes are designed to simulate outdoor speed
cycling. Using specially selected mood music and visualization tech-
Previous Page Next Page