Lady Fitness and Mrs.Sporty: The Denglish world of exercise


The proliferation of English words in German, which got some attention from The Economist this week, is nowhere more rampant than in the realm of fitness and wellness (known in German as die Fitness and die Wellness). It took me years to find a yoga studio where the instructors speak in ordinary German rather than a highly distracting stream of  sentences like “im downward Hund geht es darum, zu relaxen und gleichzeitig zu stretchen, immer in the moment zu sein.”

I’ve never belonged to a gym in Berlin – in a place where sunlight is so scarce, I prefer to just go running outside so that I can combine exercise with Vitamin D absorption. But a few weeks ago a stretch of weather too hot to run outside had me contemplating das Fitnessstudio. Also, my neighborhood women’s gym was offering discounts during Ramadan, pictured above (the staff said non-Muslim ladies could also take advantage). An attempt to compare their (totally non-transparent) pricing scheme with competitors led me to the ultradenglish realm of Berlin-area women’s gym names. Here’s a sampling:

Lady Fitness


Womenclub Frauenfitness

Frauenfitness Ladyline

Jonny M. Women


I guess the word “lady” is generally used more in global English than in native speaker English – I heard it a lot in Southeast Asia (where I was also frequently addressed as “sir”, but I digress) – but these gyms sure do lay the “lady” on thick. Is Lady Fitness the Dowager Countess of Fitnessshire? Did LadyCompany make an advantageous marriage to LordCompany? Jonny M. Women sounds like a pretty sketchy dude. Silliest of all is Mrs.Sporty, which besides its odd punctuation seems to arise from the common German-to-English translation error of assuming Mrs. = Frau. Is it just me or does Mrs. Sporty evoke the image more of Mr. Sporty’s frazzled wife than of a woman who is herself sporty? Also, a lot of the names are very Ladywomenfrauensportysport – among other things, Denglish tends to lead to very repetitive slogans and names.

Also: if your ladygym is going to run a Ramadan special, you should probably consider staying open late during Ramadan so that the ladies have have time to exercise after the iftar.

4 thoughts on “Lady Fitness and Mrs.Sporty: The Denglish world of exercise

  1. I didn’t realize this problem was so rampant. I’ve only been bugged by Mrs. Sporty which just doesn’t sound sporty or cool. (I am also bugged by Germans calling me Mrs.) But Mrs. Sporty is extra-pathetic because the logo looks like a package of birth control pills to me. Best way to stay fit: avoid pregnancy, is that the message?

    1. It really irks me when Germans call me Mrs. Yager, because (even though they don’t mean it that way) it sounds like I’m married to my brother or my dad.

  2. Two points – firstly, I totally agree about getting annoyed about being called Mrs. I had flight tickets booked for me by a company in Berlin and when I was checking in, I realised I was a “Mrs”. When airlines make such a fuss about us putting down our full names exactly as they appear on our passports, I can’t help but feel not only annoyed, but also slightly fraudulent, when I’m going around the airport with a ticket with the name Mrs Turner on it – that’s not me! It’s not even my mum, as she didn’t change her name when she got married…..the last person to use that name would have been my gran, who died almost 20 years ago… it’s also a bit creepy being called by her name.

    Point 2 – at least the LadyFrauenWomenFitnessWellness gym whose poster you feature in your photo knows how to use an apostrophe. After spending years laughing at the bizarre versions of English words and phrases scattered around Berlin, I am now beginning to think that there are far worse crimes in the UK. And at least Germans making mistakes in English have an excuse….I cringe every time I see a (presumably) native English speaker writing signs like “Beer as cold as you’re ex’s heart” and “Hot Snax’s” (both real examples from Glasgwegian establishments).

    1. Katie, I had the same experience the last time I was in the US – the abundance of signs with botched apostrophes, their/they’re/there mistakes and weird quotation marks that mean the opposite of what the writer intended (e.g., our restaurant serves “tasty” food) made me think I’d been a bit too harsh on the poor Germans.

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