Now revealing the Crossfit Kyoto renovation 'Before&After' story!!!
This is Crossfit Kyoto's 'Before & After' story of a Public bath house (Sento) turning into a Sports Gym where everyone can come to a Crossfit class, get moving, workout and have fun together.
Transformation from a Public Bath House to a Crossfit Dojo
This was the entrance to the neighbourhood Sento (public bath house) called 'Wakaba-yu'. Famous for its high quality water, loved by all the locals and with fans from as far as Tokyo it was in operation for 65 years. In 2017, after the owners reached a certain age, they decided to terminate an era that ran over two generations.
This is what Wakaba-yu looked like, when it was still in business:
The O'jizo-sama (a small prayer station to honour the Boddhisattva of protection, on the left) will remain for sure but the renovation that was needed to turn the bath house into a sports gym would be tremendous anyway. Despite the fact that once it's a sports gym it could not be a Sento anymore the land owner supported Crossfit Kyoto's concept. A Sento (public bath) is a place where people gather for a good time, to stay healthy and have fun together. This is very much in alignment with the ideals of CrossFit Kyoto.
Renovations for the big change over to a sports gym
We were lucky to get an introduction to a wonderful construction & renovation company by our new landlord. They do everything within the same team: measuring/design/demolition/construction/cement pouring/tile and wood work, etc.
First all kinds of Sento style things needed to be removed: furniture, lockers, scales, as well as all the ceiling panels and some of the separation walls which had divided the space into male and female section:
Oh, but wait a minute, let's enjoy one more cup of wine (water called wine) before you guys start~~~♪
Since we believe in re-cycling and really care about antiques we made sure the retro scales, massage chair, hair dryer and Bandai (Sento reception desk) all escaped safely for the time of the deconstruction and renovation:
Of course the floor of a sports gym has to be flat and even!
Someone said "No, let's leave it and create an obstacle race kind of Crossfit gym! Wouldn't that be fun?"
Right... but on a bumpy floor, we can't do CrossFit! The great thing about Crossfit is that we do lots of movements needed & useful for everyday life. Our everyday life isn't (always (; ) like an obstacle race, so after all, we decided to flatten the floors.
This used to be the entrance / changing room area and the plan was to make it the main training room. A guy already looking like a Crossfitter is tearing out the Sento floor, wood, concrete, pipes and all:
The second room which used to be the main bath area was the perfect size for a personal training, stretching and community room. Of course bath floors are slightly tilted so the water can easily flow toward the gutter channels. So in order for barbels, kettlebells and balls to remain where they are placed during a workout this floor too had to be level.
Another thing Sentos have are high walls to separate the men's from the women's bath area. This wall looked wonderful with all the old style tiles, so we wanted to keep it: "Maybe we can use one area as a personal training room and the other as a community space?" Although this was good idea, the personal training space would have ended up being rather small... After many meetings and discussions we decided to take the wall out in order to create one more generous training space.
A small door between the men's and women's baths gave access for cleaning (or maybe for a visit to the other side!? (; . This is now part of the changing room area.
The division wall is gone and you can see the beginning of our shower area. The two bath tubs you can see on the right were cleverly transformed into spacious shower rooms by our clever designer. That beautifully tiled pillar remained and is now hiding in one of our showers - come find it next time you visit 😉
In Japanese style bathing after you've finished scrubbing your body vigorously, sweated all the poisons out of your body in the sauna and had a few dips in the cold tub, you get to soak and relax in the different bath tubs. Then finally, before getting dressed, you come out into a 'halfway space' where you can do the final polishing and drying off, as well as enjoy a drink of the sento's well water before you step down into the dressing room.
Here you can see that 'halfway space' with the wall and its three nicely sculptured tiles: there was a fish, a rose and a maiden. It was a very typical feature of this Sento so we really wanted to keep it:
After a lot of measuring, meetings and more discussions we came to the tough conclusion that it would take up too much space, make the placement of the rack very difficult and severely obstruct the workout area. Sadly, the wall and half of the sink all had to be removed, but thanks to the wonderfully careful work of the remover team one of the big green sculptured tiles was saved: Can you spot it around the main training room next time you join us for a workout?
The wall and part of the sink are gone and we placed the water server on the previous well water spout. Behind the water server, you will find an animal left over from the old Sento time. What is it? Have you found it yet? 😀
Changing the store front to serve as a Crossfit Gym
This is what bath house entrances often look like here in Japan: They usually have frosted glass sliding doors, covered by a seasonal noren (Japanese style curtain) and a wide awning to keep the rain out:
We kept the sliding door style but turned them into clear large windows to create a bright space with lots of light. Can you tell what else is different?
The biggest change for our front was the bay-window. We had to remove it and break the wall in order to create a double door: this allows for easy access during workouts when there's running in the program 🙂 Even though some of our members might be shooting in and out the doors during a workout, visitors or participants of the next class can still easily (and safely (; ) access the community space and changing rooms to get ready for their class or come in for a cup of tea or coffee (made with our tasty well water!)
Oh! Are we celebrating already!? ...No no 🙂
The renovation was happening in the middle of summer, the season of the Jizo festival in Kyoto. It is another one of these wonderful community traditions that has been maintained throughout Kyoto. O'Jizo sama is said to be a guardian deity, especially for children, and the summer festival called Jizo-bon is for all the neighbourhood kids. During the whole of August you can discover Jizo-bon events in many Kyoto neighbourhoods.
Our landlords used to hold the Jizo festival inside their bath house, BUT, this year something else was happening in there.... yes, Crossfit Kyoto was reforming the space. So the landlord decided to hold the festival in their parking lot.
Must-have-item for Crossfit: a solid floor!
In a sports gym or Crossfit gym it can happen that heavy things get dropped... 😀 - We knew that a lot of concrete and a solid construction was needed to prevent the floor from cracking or breaking.
A metal re-enforcement mesh within the concrete increases the strength of a cement floor even more!
After pouring the concrete, we needed to wait over one week to let the concrete dry properly. Luckily it wasn't rainy so everything went really smoothly, dried out swiftly and well.
The big change: bath area to personal training and community space, plus shower/changing area
The personal training, stretching and community room used to be the bath area. The tiled floor was slanted, bumpy and had all kinds of water features: water taps, shower heads, several hot water tubs and an electric bath, plus saunas on each side. Of course there were many well-water and waste water pipes lying underground as well.
The workers had to peal the tiles of the floor and dig deep into the ground. They had to do it super carefully in order not to break any of the still functioning pipes.
The tile floor is gone!
Now the personal training room also has a concrete floor and the old cold-water bathtubs next to each of the saunas are turning into beautiful shower booths: all thanks to a clever design and nifty carpenter work:
We wanted to keep as much of the bath house atmosphere as possible and this is why all our showers have a different design as well as an unusual shape: One features a lovely Venus sculpture, the other a lion head and the third a mosaic tile floor compiling all the different tiles that were used within the old structure. The renovation company did a great job designing the shower booths in such a clever way that all three of them feel generously spacious.
Come have a look at our elegant Venus shower and enjoy its spaciousness:
After a long-lasting search we finally found eco-friendly shower curtains and we up-cycled reed doors with noren (Japanese style store front curtains) from the previous bath house (see below, you can read the saga in another blog of ours :D).
Up-cycled tiles - Before & After!
We like up-cycling and we treasure antiques! So it was clear that we wanted to use the old Sento tiles as much as ever possible in our new sports gym.
The bath area had especially beautiful green granite slabs on the wash stations, so...
...we removed those dark-green beauties carefully, before all the wash stations got demolished to create extra space, and...
...with the help of our wonderfully creative designer they got up-cyled for the steps in our entrance! Have you noticed them?
We also went and collected some of the old tiles that survived the demolition and....
...created floor mosaics for the shower and toilet floors!
Nice! We have a Crossfit Kyoto logo in one of the shower booths now 🙂
Crossfit Kyoto reborn!
We were hoping November 1st to be our Grand Opening Day and although we were rather worried if we could make it in time or not... with the tireless effort of the renovation team and everyone involved, the New Crossfit Kyoto was complete in time for the big photo shoot and the official Opening Party.
The new CrossFit Kyoto
Here you can see part of the Photo shoot Team at the new Crossfit Kyoto: We offered a free Workout to everyone helping us to get pictures for our new website. It was a long day but a lot of fun! Here's to everyone who contributed: Thank you again!
Moving the Crossfit equipment to the new gym
Lastly, we moved the rack from the old dojo in Kamigyo-ku to new gym in Kita-ku, Kyoto. It was another fun event, especially because everything fit as planned - yay!
Although this is the end of the 'Before & After' Story don't despair 😉 we have lots more stories to tell.
Our members often notice and compliment us on the weekly changes and continuous improvements of the new Crossfit Kyoto space - Thank you for your wonderful contributions!
If you're interested you're invited to read our blogs below and even more: they appear regularly in our members' section ♪
This is our opening party blog;
Shoes box is done!
Biwa tree came
The bandai(Sento reception) escaped during the construction but it's back!
The shower with Vinus
Weightlifting Platform in the personal training room;
Well water (natural water);
You can relax in our community space drinking tea and coffee♪
Trial classes are available any time. Please apply online via the button below.
At CrossFit Kyoto, we offer "Wakaba" classes.
Ideal for people who don't feel confident about exercise,
are recovering from an injury, or for those who are 60+.
Eat well, move more, feel better, and live & give your best!
Crossfit Kyoto, training and sports gym, is located in Kitaoji and a mere 13 min subway ride from Kyoto station.
(Circuit training, personal training)