US:British Fitness Equivalents

I often make the joke that I went into a bookstore while I lived in England and picked up a ‘best of British cooking’ book only to open the cover and find there were no pages inside. As uninspiring as the gastronomic experience of my 3 and a half years in the UK may have been, I wouldn’t trade the overall experience for the world.

While I didn’t return to the US in 2001 with anything close to the James Bond accent I was hoping to pick up (“I like my protein shakes blended, not shaken…”), I did come back with the ability to drive a stick shift with my left hand on the wrong side of the road.

Even though we all speak the same language, there were some interesting differences I learned in the gyms of England – and I trained at quite a few of ‘em.

Converting kilos to pounds wasn’t a big deal, thanks to my prior powerlifting experience, but it took me awhile to accept the fact that the all-American exercise we knew since birth as a push-up, my British clients called a press-up.

Lying Triceps Extensions… I’ve always known ‘em as “Skull-crushers”. In England, they call ‘em as nose-breakers.

Gym shoes are known as trainers and steroids are referred to as “gear”.

Even common anatomical terms were pronounced differently enough to make me say “HUH?!” more than once.

Capillaries –
USA: KAHP-ul-larrys
UK: kuh-PILL-er-ees

Skeletal system –
USA: SKELL-it-ull
UK: skuh-LEE-tull

Of course, I also came away with an appreciation for private insurance over the government mis-managed option, but at least I won’t ever have to worry about that happening here, will I?



  1. Joe:
    Okay, this is really childish, but I can’t help myself. I giggle when I hear the English pronounce urinal.
    USA: UR-in-al
    England: ur-I-nal


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