85+ Essential Workout Phrases in Mandarin
The benefits of exercise are no secret: experts at the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere say that regular physical activity can improve your mood, reduce your risk of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, and even help you sleep better. Even if you dislike getting hot, sore, and sweaty, there are plenty of low-impact choices like walking and yoga that offer benefits for mental and physical health. Many types of exercise also offer opportunities to socialize and make friends, which can help you acclimate to life in a new country. If you’ve just moved to China from another country and want to kickstart your exercise routine or just want to round out your Mandarin vocabulary with words about sports and physical activity, this post has you covered. Read on for over 85 vocabulary words for talking about exercise in Mandarin.
General Terms for Exercise and Places to Work Out in Mandarin
Over the past 20 years, the popularity of fitness activities in China has surged. By the end of 2020, 50,288 fitness clubs were operating in China, and 67.5% of people above age 7 engaged in fitness activities at least once a week. This trend builds upon a long history of traditional exercise activities in China, such as public-square dancing and qìgōng (气功), an exercise regimen rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine, both of which can be practiced in public parks and plazas. With all these options, you’ll have no trouble finding a place to exercise in China.
运动 (yùndòng) - sports; exercise
运动场 (yùndòngchǎng) - sports field
体育 (tǐyù) - physical education; sports
体育馆 (tǐyùguǎn) - gymnasium, e.g. at a school or rec center
健身 (jiànshēn) - workout; fitness
健身室 (jiànshēnshì) - fitness center or local gym
游泳池 (yóuyǒngchí) - pool
公园 (gōngyuán) - park
广场 (guǎngchǎng) - public square; plaza
Wǒ de xiǎoqū fùjìn yǒu jiànshēn shì, zài nà'er kěyǐ pǎobù hé jǔzhòng, dànshì méiyǒu yóuyǒngchí.
There’s a fitness center near my neighborhood where I can run and lift weights, but they don’t have a swimming pool.
Mandarin Words to Use at the Gym
Once you’ve located the nearest gym or fitness club, you’ll want to brush up on words to use while you’re exercising there. For a refresher on body parts, check out our post about medical phrases in Mandarin. Most gyms offer machines for both strength training and cardio workouts, and we’ve got you covered with vocabulary for both in the list below:
力量训练 (lìliàng xùnliàn) - strength training
伸展运动 (shēnzhǎn yùndòng) - stretching
有氧运动 (yǒuyǎng yùndòng) - aerobic exercise
全身运动 (quánshēn yùndòng) - full-body workout
有氧运动 (yóuyǎng yùndòng) - cardiovascular exercise
举重 (jǔ zhòng) - weightlifting
配重 (pèizhòng) - weights
杠铃片 (gàng líng piàn) - barbell
哑铃 (yǎlíng) - dumbbell
磅 (bàng) - pound
公斤 (gōng jīn) - kilogram
轻 (qīng) - light
重 (zhòng) - heavy
组 (zǔ) - set
次 (cì) - reps
重复 (chóngfù) - repetition
拉 (lā) - to pull
推 (tuī) - to push
跳 (tiào) - to jump
出汗 (chū hàn) - to sweat
深蹲 (shēn dūn) - squat
硬拉 (yìng lā) - deadlift
卧推 (wò tuī) - bench press
二头弯举 (èrtóu wānjǔ) - bicep curl
俯卧撑 (fǔwòchēng) - push-up
引体向上 (yíntǐ xiàngshàng) - pull-up
运动自行车 (yùndòng zìxíngchē) - exercise bike
跑步机 (pǎobùjī) - treadmill
康复 (kāngfù) - recovery
训练伙伴 (xùnliàn huǒbàn) - training partner / spotter
个人教练 (gèrén jiàoliàn) - personal trainer
储物柜 (chǔwùguì) - locker
毛巾 (máojīn) - towel
健身房会员 (jiànshēnfáng huìyuán) - gym membership
请帮我加一张十公斤的 杠铃片 。
qǐng bāng wǒ jiā yī zhāng shí gōngjīn de gàng língpiàn.
Please add a ten-kilogram weight for me.
zhè yī zǔ wǒ dǎsuàn zuò shí cì.
I plan to do 10 reps on this set.
Talking About Sports in Mandarin
Soccer and basketball both enjoy huge fan followings in China, along with more traditional sports like ping pong and badminton. China’s growing middle class has more time to pursue these sports and others at the amateur level, and China’s President Xi Jinping is pushing for China to become a leading sports nation, including at the professional level, by 2050. Given their popularity among Chinese people, sports offer a great topic for Mandarin learners to practice with native speakers.
快走 (kuàizǒu) - brisk walking
慢跑 (mànpǎo) - jogging
跑步 (pǎobù) - running
瑜伽 (yújiā) - yoga
游泳 (yóuyǒng) - swimming
划船 (huáchuán) - rowing
骑自行车 (qí zìxíngchē) - cycling
滑旱冰 (huáhànbīng) - rollerblading / rollerskating
篮球 (lánqiú) - basketball
足球 (zúqiú) - football / soccer
排球 (páiqiú) - volleyball
乒乓球 (pīngpāngqiú) - pingpong / table tennis
网球 (wǎngqiú) - tennis
羽毛球 (yǔmáoqiú) - badminton
棒球 (bàngqiú) - baseball
高尔夫球 (gāoěrfūqiú) - golf
飞盘 (fēipán) - frisbee
冰球 (bīngqiú) - ice hockey
溜冰 (liūbīng) - ice skating
滑雪 (huáxuě) - skiing
橄榄球 (gǎnlǎnqiú) - American football / rugby
游泳比赛 (yóuyǒng bǐsài) - swimming competition
自行车比赛 (zìxíngchē bǐsài) - cycling competition
马拉松比赛 (mǎlāsōng bǐsài) - marathon
Wǒ měi zhōu wǔ zài gōngyuán dǎ lánqiú.
I play basketball in the park every Friday.
Duì yùndòng lái shuō, wǒ zuì xǐhuān dǎ yǔmáoqiú, zuì xǐhuān kàn zúqiú.
In terms of sports, I like playing badminton and watching soccer the most.
Traditional Chinese Exercise
Traditional Chinese exercise offers a great way to explore Chinese culture. Many of the martial arts forms, including qigong and Tai Chi, have developed over thousands of years, with strong ties to Chinese philosophy, particularly Taoism. The 5th century BCE imperial court record, Spring and Autumn Annals, contains the first record of Chinese martial arts. More modern activities like square dancing and ping pong also offer windows into Chinese culture and are a great way to connect with Mandarin speakers and learn the language in the process.
气 (qì) - vital energy
晨练 (chénliàn) - morning workout
广场舞 (guǎngchǎngwǔ) - Chinese square dancing
武术 (wǔshù) - martial arts
太极拳 (Tàijíquán) - Tai Chi
少林功夫 (Shàolín Gōngfū) - Shaolin Kung Fu
Liànxí tàijí quán nénggòu tígāo nǐ de jīngshén jiànkāng
Practicing tai chi can improve your mental health.
Describing a Healthy Lifestyle in Mandarin
There’s more to a healthy lifestyle than exercise alone. Things like diet and sleep habits have big impacts on both physical and mental health. In conversations about fitness, you may want to describe other habits you use to keep healthy or the outcomes you experience when you stick to those habits. Our last list contains vocabulary for describing a healthy lifestyle in Mandarin:
身体健康 (shēntǐ jiànkāng) - physical health
肌肉 (jīròu) - muscle
力量 (lìliàng) - strength
耐力 (nàilì) - endurance
心理健康 (xīnlǐ jiànkāng) - mental health
冥想 (míngxiǎng) - meditation
睡眠 (shuìmián) - sleep
饮食 (yǐnshí) - diet
健康饮食 (jiànkāng yǐnshí) - healthy eating
喝水 (hē shuǐ) - drink water
姿势 (zī shì) - posture / form
健康生活方式 (jiànkāng shēnghuó fāngshì) - healthy lifestyle
膳食补充剂 (shànshí bǔchōngjì) - supplement
中医 (zhōngyī) - traditional Chinese medicine
燃烧卡路里 (ránshāo kǎlùlǐ) - to burn calories
减肥 (jiǎnféi) - to lose weight
Wèile shēntǐ jiànkāng wǒ měitiān liànxí yújiā, hē bā bēi shuǐ, hé wǎnshàng 10 diǎn zhīqián shuìjiào.
For my health, every day I practice yoga, drink 8 glasses of water, and go to bed before 10 PM.
Learn Chinese Through Sports and Physical Activity
In both Chinese and Western society, some people believe physical activity and learning exist in opposition. Parents may assume that playing sports or working out is a waste of time that would be better spent studying. However, researchers at Harvard and elsewhere have found that regular exercise actually improves memory and critical thinking skills and thus aids learning. Some language teachers take this idea a step further, using a technique called Total Physical Response, which coordinates language and physical movement.
If you are working to learn Mandarin while living in China, joining a gym or sports team could be a great option. If you’re learning Mandarin in another country, try finding a native speaker who shares your interest in exercise. You’re sure to have plenty of conversation topics, and you may even find a new training partner. Either way, not only will you make friends, but you’ll also learn vocabulary associated with the sport or fitness activity. As an added bonus, engaging in regular physical activity may help that vocabulary stick! Work with one of Speechling’s native speakers to prepare and build confidence.