English Vocabulary at the Gym: The Mind-Body Connection

Just like many of my students, I go to the gym several times a week. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we retain new English vocabulary much more effectively when we “work with it” in our daily lives. Memorizing words out of context usually isn’t enough to make words “stick”. Incorporating new English vocabulary into your gym routine is a great way to practice. You can exercise your mind and body at the same time.

Below are some dialogues I’ve put together. They include words and phrases often used at the gym. I recommend reading the dialogues to yourself and practicing them with a friend. By the time you get to the gym you’ll be ready to put your new vocabulary to use. Review the dialogues to yourself while you’re exercising too. Create new ones with the vocabulary you’ve just memorized. Much like physical exercise, these mental exercises are a great habit to cultivate. Once you start your dialogue routines, they’ll get easier — and more fun!

Imagine you move to a new city, as many of my English clients experience, and decide to join a gym. What would you say? Maybe something like this:

Staff member: Hello, welcome to our gym.

You: Hello, I would like to join your gym. How do I sign up for a membership?

Staff member: Great. Do you want to sign up for this location?

You: Yes, but I also travel around the city a lot so I would like to know if I can work out at different locations with this membership.

Staff member: Sure, you can. No problem.

You: Fantastic! How much is a membership?

Staff member: The membership fee is $120 per month, but if you sign up for one year we give you a 25% discount.

You: That works for me. I will do that.

Now you are a member of a gym and might meet your friend Peter there:

Peter: Hi, I did not know that you work out at this gym.

You: Yeah, I do. What's your gym routine?

Peter: Mostly cardio and abs these days. I am gonna do the elliptical for 45 minutes and then work on my abs. How about you?

You: Mostly legs and arms today with a little bit of cardio.

Peter: Awesome. Do you want to stretch together afterward?

You: Sure. See you later then. Enjoy your workout.

Some people also really enjoy classes:

You: Where do I sign up for the Yoga class?

Staff member: Just put your name on that list.

You: Awesome. Thanks.

*The key vocabulary: *

To join a gym

To sign up for something

(Gym) membership


To work out

A workout

Membership fee

To give a discount


To do cardio


The elliptical

To work on something

To stretch

To put one's name on a list

Pay special attention to the phrasal verbs:

To work out

To sign up for

The phrasal verb "to work out" also has a noun:

a workout.

This is often the case with phrasal verbs.

For further study:


Photo from MySportsClub

Marike Korn