Chinese Vocabulary for a Fitness Lifestyle

When people think of bodybuilding they immediately imagine competitions on stage with hungry figures wearing walnut tanning oil. That’s not necessarily the case.

In Chinese, when we refer to bodybuilding we can just as easily mean, taking care of our overall fitness levels. This can range from age and ability but the one thing “bodybuilders” have in common is the goal to be healthy and happy.

National fitness/exercise

A national fitness campaign has taken center stage in southern China, kicking off a new era of “全民健身 (quánmín jiànshēn) national fitness”.

National fitness refers to a campaign for an entire country’s population, regardless of age, gender, strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, and mobility, to focus on making the people healthy.

全民健身 (quánmín jiànshēn):

national fitness.

健身 (jiànshēn) : fitness/exercise.

jiànshēn shì yì zhǒng shēnghuó tàidù
Being fit is a way of life.

jiànshēn néng ràng rén chángshòu
Fitness can make people live longer.

There are different types of fitness:

Fitness isn’t exclusive to just running and aerobics, which are forms of exercise people tend to shy away from when starting their fitness journey.

Going to the gym

The gym has various fitness equipment, fitness coaches, and classes that people can join to create a sense of community. Many “健身房 (jiànshēnfáng) gyms” have pools for people who love to swim while other gyms have entire rock-climbing walls for those who are adventurous at heart.

健身房 (jiànshēnfáng): gym

wǒ měitiān dōu huì qù jiànshēnfáng.
I go to the gym every day.

If showing up to a gym day in and day out isn’t your thing there are alternate forms of exercise that are meant to be less intimidating than a weight room full of muscular physics. Yoga is one such alternative.


“瑜伽 (yújiā) Yoga” is for people who want to either supplement their fitness programs to increase flexibility, overall mobility, or rehabilitate an overworked body and mind. They often turn to yoga for its long list of benefits.

“瑜伽 (yújiā) Yoga” also is known to be low-impact on the joints and is a good option for individuals with musculoskeletal injuries or deficiencies. Don’t let the idea of stretching fool you, however.

There are many forms of yoga that are extremely challenging and advanced.

瑜伽(yújiā): Yoga

A: nǐ zuìjìn yǒu jiànshēn ma?
Have you been exercising recently?

B: yǒu, wǒ zuìjìn dōu zài liàn yújiā.
Yes, I have been practicing yoga recently.

If yoga exceeds your fitness style there’s a popular form of fitness that our aged are drawn to.

Square dance

It’s another low impact and a slower-paced option that is popular with the elderly.

“广场舞 (guǎngchǎng wǔ) Square dancing ” not only helps strengthen the body but also helps enrich the lives of the elderly by giving them a sense of community and routine as well.

广场舞 (guǎngchǎng wǔ):

square dance


A: māma gànshénme qùle?
What did mom do?

B:tā qù tiào guǎngchǎng wǔle.​
She went to the square dance.

māma zuìjìn mí shàngle guǎngchǎng wǔ.
Mom is hooked on square dancing recently.

There are different purposes of fitness so regardless of your goals there’s an option for you.
To lose weight

Some want to simply change the number on the scale. Losing weight can reduce the overall likelihood of getting obesity-related diseases and even increase your lifespan.

减肥 (jiǎnféi): to lose weight

A: chī huǒguō qù ma?
Want to go for hot pot?

B: bú qù, wǒ yào jiǎnféi.
No, I want to lose weight.

nǐ yǐjīng hěn shòule, búyòng jiǎnféile.
You are already very thin, no need to lose weight.

To build up/ strengthen our body

Then there’s the opposite of losing weight which is to build up/strengthen our body .

Strengthening your muscles and increasing endurance isn’t reserved for athletes. It’s useful for everyday life. It can improve the ease in which you engage in hobbies and increase the efficiency of chores and every-day occurrences.

强身健体 (qiángshēn jiàn tǐ ) : physical fitness- build up a good physique and improve health
强身 (qiángshēn): strong; strengthen your body
健体 (jiàn tǐ): to make your body health

wǒmen yào búduàn qiángshēn jiàn tǐ.
We have to keep fit.

chén pǎo kěyǐ qiángshēn jiàn tǐ.
Morning running can strengthen your body.

To shape your body

Getting your body in shape or shaping your body is a goal for those who were not genetically blessed. Perhaps your shoulders are very narrow or your legs are too thin. It’s easy to build those areas up with the right fitness plan and nutrition.

塑身(sùshēn): shape your body

yújiā kěyǐ sùshēn.
Yoga can shape your body.

Regardless of country of origin, age, gender identity, or current fitness level, more and more people from all life backgrounds are getting into fitness and joining the ranks of a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s “燃烧我的卡路里 (ránshāo wǒ de kǎlùlǐ) burn my calories” together.

HSK 3 quiz

Choose appropriate words and fill in the blanks.

A.强身健体 (qiángshēn jiàn tǐ )

B.减肥 (jiǎnféi)

C.瑜伽 (yújiā)

D.健身房 (jiànshēnfáng)

E.广场舞 (guǎngchǎng wǔ)

xiǎo hóng shìle hěnduō zhǒng fāngfǎ qù ______ : qù ______ , liàn ______ ,tiào ______ děng děng, yígè yuè hòu, zhōngyúshòule shí jīn.
小红试了很多种方法去 ______ :去 ______ ,练 ______ ,跳 ______ 等等,一个月后,终于瘦了十斤。

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