Free English Lessons

Going to the Gym – Listening Lesson (B1-B2)

Is going to the gym a good way to get in shape? Listen to a woman looking around a gym and trying to find out more about it, and learn useful vocabulary to talk about health and fitness in this free English listening lesson from Oxford Online English. This lesson includes a range of exercises for different levels from pre-intermediate to upper intermediate.

If you are a pre-intermediate or intermediate learner, you can click ‘Hint’ to see some help with the exercises. If you are an upper intermediate learner or above, you are recommended to try the exercises without using the Hints.

Exercises 1, 2 and 3 are designed to familiarise you with some of the language in the dialogue before you do exercise 4, which tests your comprehension. If you would like to challenge yourself, try exercise 4 first, then the other exercises, and repeat exercise 4 at the end.

Listen to the dialogue at normal speed here:

or listen to a slower version here:

Man: So, is this your first time using a gym?
Woman: Yeah, pretty much1. I never thought about it before.
Man: So what made you change your mind?
Woman: Well, it’s close to my office, and my work is too busy to do much exercise otherwise…
Man: I see. I’ll show you around2 quickly. This is the free weights3 area. Over here we have our strength-training machines.
Woman: You see, this is why I don’t like gyms. There are so many machines! I never know where to start.
Man: That’s okay. It’s actually quite simple. Every machine has instructions, you see? So it tells you which muscle group it targets4, and explains how to do the exercise safely.
Woman: So what, do people normally use all the machines in a visit?
Man: It depends. If you want to build your muscle strength, then it’s better to focus on one body part each time you come. If you want to develop endurance5, then you should do different types of exercises.
Woman: What about treadmills6, and things like that?
Man: They’re through here. We have bikes, treadmills, rowing7 machines…
Woman: Does it get busy?
Man: Yeah, in the evenings. If you can come in the middle of the day, it’s generally quite quiet.
Woman: Okay, so can I ask your advice? Where should I start?
Man: If I were you, I’d do a variety8 of exercises. So, for example, you can do cardio9 training one day, strength training the next day, flexibility10 the next day, and so on.
Woman: You mean, I should come every day?
Man: No, not necessarily! You need rest days as well. How often were you thinking of coming?
Woman: I don’t know… Once or twice a week, maybe? Is that enough?
Man: I’d say three times a week is better. If you only come once a week, you won’t really get much benefit from it.
Woman: Alright, I guess I’ll try…

1. Pretty much is used to express agreement. It suggests that what you said is not 100% correct, but that it is close enough. Pretty much is very conversational.
2. I’ll show you around = I’ll give you a tour, so you can see everything.
3. Free weight training uses weights you can hold in your hands.
4. Target is similar to concentrate on or focus on.
5. Endurance = the ability to do something for a long time without getting tired
6. A treadmill = a running machine
7. Rowing = pulling a boat through the water using oars (long pieces of wood). A rowing machine lets you practise a similar movement in the gym.
8. A variety = many different kinds of something
9. Cardio training means doing exercises which make your heart and lungs stronger, for example running, walking, cycling etc.
10. Flexibility = the ability to bend

Going to the Gym – exercise 1
Vocabulary: gym collocations

Collocations are combinations of two or more words that are commonly used together. If you changed one of the words to something similar, the combination would be wrong, e.g. ‘do exercise’ is a collocation; if you change it to ‘make exercise’ it would be wrong, even though ‘make’ and ‘do’ have similar meanings.

The dialogue contains a number of collocations describing ways to do exercise and the atmosphere at the gym. Listen to the dialogue and pay attention to the words below. Be careful – the order of the words in a collocation can change if different grammar is used.

Going to the Gym – exercise 2
Listening skill: dictation

Writing the exact words you hear is an excellent way to develop your listening ability. It trains you to focus on words in chunks.

Listen to the five sentences from the dialogue which contain the collocations from exercise 1, and fill in the gaps with the exact words you hear.

Going to the Gym – exercise 3
Pronunciation: identifying stress and unstress

Stress is the idea that some words are a bit louder, longer and higher-pitched than others. The words that put meaning in a sentence – nouns, main verbs, adjectives and adverbs – are normally stressed. Prepositions, pronouns, articles, and auxiliary and modal verbs are usually unstressed.

Listen to five very short clips from the dialogue and decide which words are stressed and which are unstressed. Just like when you go to the gym and work on one specific muscle group at a time, this exercise trains you to listen carefully to the sounds of sentences!

Going to the Gym – exercise 4
Comprehension: multiple-choice questions

Now that you have studied some of the language in the recording, listen one more time and answer five questions.

You can hear the full audio below when you start the exercise.

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