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In my native language, we have a single verb for what you do in the gym – "gymma" – so I was thinking perhaps one could say "to gym" in English, but after having checked "gym" in a number of dictionaries, I'm convinced this is not possible in English. So, my question now is: is there another verb I could use in English for this exact meaning, or do I have to paraphrase, saying, for instance, "go to the gym"? (Annoyingly, "gymma" isn't listed in any of the bilingual dictionaries I've checked...)

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    I was looking at some translations for "gymma"... Does "Det är inget gym jag går till för att gymma men däremot att träna Bodycombat, Bodypump, Crosstraining eller Yoga." translated to "It's not a gym I go to for a gym, but instead to train Bodycombat, Bodypump, Crosstraining or Yoga." capture the sort of usage you are asking about? I assume gymma translating to "for a gym" means the sort of exercises you would do on gym equipment like treadmills but not exercises like Yoga?
    – ColleenV
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:40
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    @ColleenV Cool – so, in line with "go for a walk" then :) I can absolutely use that; it's better than "go to the gym" in the specific context I need it for, so thanks!! Apr 25, 2022 at 17:00
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    No, I didn't mean that as an answer. We would not say "go for a gym". I just wanted to make sure that was the type of thing you were looking for.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 25, 2022 at 17:13
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    "go the the gym" is very widely used, and understood to mean going there to exercise. You're trying to avoid using that? Apr 28, 2022 at 1:04
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    Perhaps "lift": Do you even lift?
    – user2121
    Apr 28, 2022 at 8:59

6 Answers 6

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English doesn't have a widely-used single verb for this activity.

There are various verbs for what you might do at the gym, as mentioned in other answers e.g. "exercise" (can apply to pretty much any physical activity you might do at the gym), "work out" (can apply to pretty much any physical activity you might do at the gym), "train" (implies more serious physical activity, and not just to maintain general fitness), or "lift" (referring specifically to weight training, but could include machines rather than just lifting weights), but these actions can also be done outside of the gym, e.g. at home, or in a park.

You can also use a longer phrase if you want to make it clear that what you're doing is taking place at a gym. As you suggest in the OP, "go to the gym" is entirely reasonable here, and probably the best choice. Whilst this does leave the actual exercise implicit, it's such a strong implication that, unless you specifically said otherwise, everyone would assume you were doing some sort of exercise there.

There are also regional differences here. "Work out" is more common in American English, but is still used and well understood by all. "Lift" is more common in British English (especially among "gym-bros"), and I don't know how well it is understood more widely. Interestingly, the verb "to gym" is used in Indian English, but would generally be understood as an error by speakers of other varieties, so is probably best avoided.

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    I agree. If you told someone you were "going to the gym" and it turned out you were just going there to have a smoothie in the cafe, that would be classed as a joke based on a language trick, the kind you'd hear in a cheesy sitcom. Assuming the OP doesn't live inside a cheesy sitcom or an academic discussion about language, I'm going to the gym unambiguously means that you are going to the gym to exercise.
    – Dannie
    Apr 27, 2022 at 15:56
  • @Dannie Haha, I don't... though wouldn't it be fun? Or perhaps not... depends on the sitcom, I suppose – imagine getting stuck in "Married with children" for instance! Oh, horror! Apr 29, 2022 at 15:23
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You are correct; we don't normally use "to gym" as a verb in English. At the gym, we exercise or work out.

Examples:

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    It may be worth noting that you can exercise or work out at places that aren't the gym.
    – Laurel
    Apr 25, 2022 at 14:22
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    The question asks for single verb that means "to exercise in a gym" and English doesn't have one verb for that. Someone might infer from the context where we are going to be exercising when we say we're going to go work out, but as Laurel pointed out, we have to explicitly say "in a gym" or "at the gym" in English. We can work out in park, or in our offices, or at home with or without gym type equipment.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:37
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    also potentially "train" or "lift" (the latter may be more of a Britishism, and afaik, only applies to certain sorts of exercise, whereas the other terms are more general)
    – Tristan
    Apr 26, 2022 at 10:13
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    @Tristan Just chiming in as an American to confirm that we use "lift" as well. (That's one usage of this word that apparently we do agree on.)
    – d_b
    Apr 26, 2022 at 15:00
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    @d_b When reading the question, I immediately thought about "Bro, do you even lift?" Apr 28, 2022 at 15:38
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While not a single word, you can hit the gym. This usage of hit isn't specific to the gym, being defined by MW as

to arrive or appear at, in, or on

  • hit town
  • the best time to hit the stores
  • The newest issue hits newsstands tomorrow.

It's slang, but it seems to be idiomatic in both American and British English.

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    The non-slang version of this is "go to the gym", and has the same meaning, as @Dannie commented. Apr 28, 2022 at 1:06
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    "hit the gym" is understandable in British English, but would be very rarely used by native speakers. Rather the non-slang "go to the gym" or possibly "head to the gym" would be used instead. (- SE England) Apr 28, 2022 at 15:41
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Just use "gym" as a verb if you want to. I've heard it more than often enough amongst my young native English gym-frequenting friends. I gym a few times per week // I'll be gymming between 8 and 9 this evening. It's definitely informal and new usage though.

Most people would assume "exercise" to be the thing you do at the gym. I go to the gym to exercise. "Train" is even more comprehensive than that, because maybe you are using the gym facilities to practise a sport (which may not be considered exercise but is still normally considered training).

And the most catch-all of all... "I go to the gym". The verb is "go to the gym". Very common and natural, very frequently said and heard, and includes everything you could possibly do at the gym. I'd guess it's the most easily substitutable translation for gymma, will work in every case unlike the more specific words like "exercise" or "work out".

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    Wiktionary lists the verb form en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gym#Verb
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 26, 2022 at 19:30
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    Interestingly, it seems to have originated in India "The only thing that can make you susceptible to this condition pre-marriage is crash dieting or mindless gymming and exercise" Rujuta Diwekar, Women and the weight loss tamasha
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 26, 2022 at 19:32
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    @Mari-LouA wiktionary lists it as Indian English. The entry there does not suggest the word is widely accepted in other varieties of English
    – Tristan
    Apr 27, 2022 at 16:01
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    @Tristan Is Indian English a less relevant dialect than American or British English? Verbing, making nouns into verbs, is a well-documented phenomena and current in all English varieties. The OP, a native speaker, has attested to hearing "I gym a few times a week" but also acknowledges it is a recent coinage. I don't see where the problem lies. The link is a reference which supported the OP's assertion and personal experience.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 29, 2022 at 5:40
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    Indian English is generally less well known by speakers of other dialects. From a non-native speaker, British or American English speakers are likely to perceive this as an error (they'd probably also perceive it as an error from native Indian English speakers, due to the racist assumption that they must all be L2 speakers), whereas from a native speaker they'd likely perceive it as language play
    – Tristan
    Apr 29, 2022 at 8:32
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You might consider "exercise" or "train" as similar meanings for a single verb of "what you do in a gym".

You could do these things outside the gym, but that's typically what you'd do inside the gym.

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    I'm not familiar with the word "gymma" or the language it is home to, but just based on its spelling I would guess that it may refer to gyms specifically. The verbs "exercise" and "train" definitely happen in a gym, but also happen outside of a gym just as much.
    – stjep
    Apr 26, 2022 at 8:23
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    @stjep It's Swedish :) And you're very right that "exercise" and "train" are a bit too vague. Apr 29, 2022 at 15:25
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You can say, attend the gym, or use the gym. These are less specific than exercise or work out, but they are both transitive verbs that take the location as the direct object.

Examples:

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    Me, I go to the gym to train. As in weight-training.
    – RedSonja
    Apr 26, 2022 at 9:58
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    "attend the gym" sounds very odd to my (UK-native) ears. "Use the gym" would seem to imply a gym attached to some other facility (e.g. an office or hotel) rather than a gym operating on its own
    – Tristan
    Apr 26, 2022 at 10:11
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    SE England, speaking fairly Standard Southern British English
    – Tristan
    Apr 26, 2022 at 14:44
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    attend the gym is not just odd in BrE, it's very odd in AmE as well.
    – Lambie
    Apr 26, 2022 at 18:19
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    attend school, attend church, attend clients, attend many things but not a gym. I don't care what Ngrams say. I have never in all my years heard attend a gym.
    – Lambie
    Apr 26, 2022 at 22:06

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