b-monster: The Club Meets Boxing Fitness
written by Faith (Communications Manager)
*neither Faith nor Samurai Sports was paid for this article; all fees were borne by the author
What Is b-monster?
b-monster is a trendy boxing fitness studio featuring instructor-led workouts in a club-like setting. It’s a fun yet intense workout complete with upbeat music, minimal equipment, and an enthusiastic instructor.
Japan still hasn’t quite figured out the all-around gym (think Pure Fitness, Barry’s or even Lifetime Fitness) but smaller, class-based studio gyms have been gaining traction around the country for several years now.
Not too long ago, the b-monster workout began to spread among celebrities and social media influencers in Tokyo. Currently, there are five studios around Tokyo and another in Nagano. Earlier this year, b-monster branched abroad to open a studio in Shanghai.
For boxing purists, b-monster classes may seem blasphemous. But for most of us, b-monster is a great way to get your butt active and get an all-around workout in for 45 minutes!
Highly Instagrammable backgrounds define B-Monster.
Working Out In the Dark?
“The darkness produces alpha waves which allows the brain to stay focused and relaxed.” b-monster promo pamphlet
I kind of get it. I prefer to run at night (in safe, well-lit places) and workout in the evening (with lighting). That said, the latest dark room fitness trend oftentimes amounts to essentially moving the gym to the club, or vice versa.
Well, the science just doesn’t back it up! Research on the impact of bright light versus dim light on physical performance shows that we perform at higher levels and work harder (as measured by blood lactate levels and heart rate) in bright light.
In fact, dim light seemed to negatively impact the level at which people push themselves to exert more energy and power!
It’s important to note that the level of darkness and intensity of strobe lights or special effects utilized varies broadly. To be sure, there are different approaches and intentions among gyms that use soft colors and ambient lighting, the orange hues signature to Orangetheory Fitness, or the club dancefloor effect more common to studios like SoulCycle (US), FeelCycle (Japan), and b-monster.
All things considered at b-monster, it isn’t the lighting that increases our willingness to work out or enhances our performance. Rather, it’s the combined effect of the catchy music, strobe lights, and enthusiastic instructor that pumps your adrenaline and keeps you motivated!
Ambient Lighting and Dimly Lit Studios
Feel less self-conscious
Feel it enhances physical performance
Flattering – lighting makes you look good
Heightens the overall exercise experience
Lighting can give visual cues
May help with focus
Certain lighting can be distracting
Can’t see well, including the instructor
Can decrease sense of balance and body awareness
Little evidence for enhanced athletic performance in the dark
Research indicates dim light negatively impacts the level at which people push themselves
5 Things I Learned
- Get Strong or Get Skinny. Japanese fitness trends are almost always primarily centered on weight-loss - it's the front and center part of their fitness campaigns. Example.
- Sport vs. Fitness. b-monster is not about boxing so much as it is about fitness. There isn’t much focus on technique or skill – they certainly weren’t grooming me to become the next Laila Ali.
- The Music. Maybe I’m just getting old, but 110 decibels of club music is a little overwhelming. There is a decibel measure/counter at the Aoyama studio.
- Cross Training Is Good. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s nothing like trying out a new workout and feeling like a woefully inadequate athlete. I experienced soreness everywhere for days after a 45-minute class – more pain than after a 5-hour triathlon!
- It’s Accessible. b-monster does a great job of packaging an intense boxing workout to appear intimidating and a fun activity. Boxing can seem male-centric but at b-monster, women are the target audience and it’s evident that care is taken to ensure women feel welcome. While women comprise the core clientele, that doesn’t mean there’s no men at all.
Towels galore! Pick up your own towels like the adult you are - so rare in Japan.
5 Things I Liked
- The Music. The club-bangers are definitely what I would work out to – if their music was a Spotify playlist, I would listen to it all the time.
- The Showers. There’s at least 10 showers lining the locker room. It’s unlikely you’d have to wait for a shower stall but if you do, you won’t wait long.
- The Towels. Finally, a gym in Japan that doesn’t charge you a few coins for a bath towel! There are also plenty of smaller face and hand towels available during your class.
- The Temperature. It feels frigid when you haven’t yet worked up a sweat but by the end of your workout, you’ll be grateful for the cool breezes of the AC and fans.
- It’s Non-Stop. b-monster is 45 minutes of non-stop moving your body. It’s easy to slack off but if you’re putting forth your best effort, it’s a damn good workout. Those unaccustomed to boxing and HIIT will be sore the next few days!
Selecting your sandbag on the b-monster app is pretty easy.
Well, That's Interesting
It’s a promotional video so it’s a little over the top, if you will…but there’s no way on God’s green earth that I would have completed the b-monster class without my hair tied back and out of my face!
Also, shoes? Upon entering the Aoyama studio, we were immediately told to put away our shoes in a shoebag so I assumed shoes during class were a no-no.
5 Things That Were Questionable
- Bare Feet. Boxing is a barefoot sport, I get it. But with the combination of perspiration, exercises involving getting flat on the floor (e.g. sit-ups), and the lurking potential for staph, I opted to wear socks…I was the only one.
- The Language Barrier. Although b-monster have marketing materials in English, our instructor (Ryu) didn’t speak English and his instructions were hard to hear over the music. The class moves at a fast pace so there was almost no individual one-on-one time for corrections or pointers.
- The Wall. Between the aquaballs and sandbag sections, there is a small wall bisecting the runway. There’s only one instructor and if s/he goes behind the wall to one side of the runway, everyone on the other side will lose sight of the instructor. Who was the mastermind architect and designer at the Aoyama studio?
- The Smells. The locker room smelled vaguely of sewage and depending on the pair of gloves you grab, you’ll get a whiff of bleach, sweat, and mildew.
- The New York Connection? After spending some time Googling this, I’ve come to the conclusion that b-monster is made in Japan, based on fitness trends in New York. It’s not an American franchise (like Cross Fit or Orangetheory) but the way they mention New York in their advertising led me to assume that b-monster was the name of an actual boxing fitness studio originally in New York.
Good to Know
b-monster’s website and schedule lists a free trial but this functions more as an optional informational/briefing session. Actually experiencing a class on a trial basis costs ¥3,500 for one class, or ¥7,000 for the week (up to 7 classes).
It’s a good idea to do to both as you’ll be walked through different movements, use the sandbags, and gain a better understanding of what to expect at b-monster. When it was all said and done, we had spent almost 3 hours at the studio to complete both the briefing session and trial class.
¥15,000 + ¥500 for new card processing fee
* Includes gloves and towels, new members receive personal handwraps
Full Time (60x month within business hours) ¥20,000
* limited to Ginza and Aoyama studios
Daytime (30x month, 0700-2245) ¥15,000
Limited (22x month, weekdays 0920 and 1745) ¥10,000
Midnight (30x month, 2300 and 0630)¥ 7,000
1 ticket ¥5,000
4 tickets ¥18,000
1 ticket ¥2,500
4 tickets ¥8,000
1 Class Trial ¥3,500
1 Week Trial ¥7,000
*includes gloves, handwraps, towels, and a bottle of water
* all prices exclude tax
** prices are as of July 2018