Is your fitness grammar in shape?

Let me start by stating that I am not a grammar snob. If I were, I’d owe more than a few apologies for acts I’ve perpetrated against the English language over the years. I’d also like to reserve the right to continue to take grammatical liberties here and there without hypocrisy (my blog – my rules!)

I do try to speak and type correctly when possible even though it doesn’t always happen. Recently during the editing process of a video I noticed I misused a word. It bothered me because it was a word I knew better than to use, and it just illustrated the power of bad habits.

It got me to thinking about other commonly misused words and phrases I’ve heard (and seen written) in and around the fitness arena. My intent with the list below is to help anyone like me who has ever blurted out a word, and then found yourself wondering “wait – was that right?”

Again, I’m no expert. Just a girl and her trying not to obliterate the English language.


Lie or Lay

I nominate the following phrase for the award of Most Common Offender in the language of fitness:

“Lay on the mat” (or bench, etc)

The proper way to say it is in fact “lie on the mat.” Lie means to recline and lay means to put something somewhere. So – you lay a mat on the floor and then lie on that mat.

Here’s where it gets a tad confusing:

  • The past tense of lie is lay. So if you lie on a mat to do chest presses and then talk about it later, you’d say “Yesterday I lay on the mat and did chest presses.” If you’re thinking to yourself “I thought it was laid on a mat?” Alas, no…
  • Laid is actually the past tense of lay. So, if you lay your mat on the floor and then tell someone about it later, you’d say “Yesterday I laid my mat on the floor.”


Farther or Further

There are exceptions to this rule but an easy way to think of it is:

“Farther” describes physical distance. For example: “Walk your hands farther away from your feet.”

“Further” describes figurative distance. For example: “If you’d like to discuss it further, see me after class.”


Dragged or (there is no other option)

Dragged is the past tense of drag. For example: “I dragged all of the equipment from one studio to another.”

Saying you “drug” something is a whole other topic which may or may not land you in trouble…


Lose or Loose 

You lose weight. Afterward your clothes are loose. Never the two shall mix.


Workout or work out 

I’m going to give offenders of this mix-up the benefit of the doubt and assume they are the victims of autocorrect in this situation! (Happens to the best of us, right?) Just in case there is confusion a “workout” is a noun or an adjective. “Work out” is used as a verb phrase. For example, you wear your workout clothes to work out at your workout. 


Hop or Jump 

This doesn’t qualify as a grammar boo boo, but I’ve always been interested in the ambiguity surrounding their uses.

I come from a background of tap dancing where the distinction is made based on the number of limbs leaving the ground. A hop means you lift off with one foot and return with the same foot. A jump means you lift off with both feet simultaneously and return with both. A leap (in case you care) means you lift off with one foot and return with the other.

According to a “hop” means to spring or leap on one foot. A “jump” does not have a clarification.

Having stated that, there are some who will scoff at my simplification of these terms and believe that the kinetics involved in each exercise are equally important in the differentiation. Hopefully we can still be friends.


Spinning® or what happens after a Spinning® class

As easy as it is to say “I’m going to spin,” you aren’t actually indicating that you plan to cycle; rather that you might be on the verge of dancing.

As catchy as it is to refer to yourself as a “spinner,” you aren’t actually indicating your enthusiasm for cycling; rather you’re calling yourself a specific model of Mad Dogg Athletic’s brand of indoor bikes.

As cute as it sounds to say you just “spun,” you are not actually indicating you just completed a cycling session; rather you might have just produced yarn.

Why am I robbing you of such language freedoms? Well, the bottom line is that when it comes to indoor cycling the words spin, spinning and spinner should always include a capital S and a trademark symbol.

  • Unless you participate in a class associated with a Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. (owner of the Spin® family of marks) licensed facility or instructor, you are not taking a Spinning® class. Instead, you are participating in an indoor cycling class under another name.
  • Even if you are participating in a licensed Spinning® program, the word is not a verb. Hence, you can’t “go Spinning®.” Simply add a “to” between both words and you’re golden.
  • Again, because it’s not a verb there can be no past tense. (Sorry fans of spun!) So if you just completed a Spinning® class, that’s exactly what you say. Other acceptable boasts would be “went to Spinning®” or “just finished a Spin® class.”

 To find out if your facility or instructor is a licensed in the Spinning® program, visit here.  For more on the Spin® family of marks visit here.


There are more that didn’t make the list – which ones stand out for you?

About Kristin Dowell

Kristin is a group fitness instructor and personal trainer with certifications from ACE and AFAA, is qualified to coach over a dozen specialty programs, and is the creator of 3 exercise DVDs. From creating physical training programs for fire academies, to teaching preschool dance, (and just about everything in between)...
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