Foreigners Reveal How Exercise in America is Completely Different

In most North America, at least in the USA and Canada, going to the gym is a pretty regular thing for ordinary people. Most Americans find… Trista - May 28, 2021

In most North America, at least in the USA and Canada, going to the gym is a pretty regular thing for ordinary people. Most Americans find themselves exercising in some form. Nevertheless, the USA does have an obesity problem, and Canada isn’t far behind. There are many fad diets and workouts throughout Northern America that don’t help the cause. Whether it be a trendy resolution or a regular thing, you see Americans getting up early to exercise.  After all, exercising leads to a happier, healthier lifestyle. With that in mind, what about countries that don’t have as much of an obesity problem? How is exercising different there? Do people even care about going to the gym? Here are some Reddit Users that weighed in on the situation where they live.


22. Exercising at the gyms in Austria is for rich people.

“Eeeeeehhhhhh We have gyms. Like cheap ones where you pay like 10-20 per month and proper luxury ones for the bourgeois which are 80€ upwards. Some people go to the gym, but I’d say it’s more the rich folk who do it regularly. Most common folk either have some weights at home, do some group sports like football (the European one which you play with your feet), or do some sort of martial arts to stay fit. But there are still enough people who go/pay for their gym subscription, which means that gyms exist.” says Reddit user EpilepsyGang from Austria.

The country of Austria is pretty central in Europe with neighboring countries of Germany and Hungary. Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most famous and recognizable people from Austria. Its population is around 9 million people, and it’s reported that around 70% of Austrians are living in pretty good health. If you aren’t, it’s usually because of your income, and you in a lower bracket. Having cheaper gym options will help the average person stay healthy, which will help the population. It is never too late to start working on yourself.


21. Playing sports is more common than going to the gym.

“Some do, some don’t. However, in the countries I know (FR, BE, DE), relatively few people build up muscle mass (we friendly mock that American colleague with huge muscle). A lot of people do real sports (football, volleyball, rowing, climbing, dancing, triathlon, running, and way more) rather than going to the gym. Recently group fitness like Zumba was very popular among girls 3-4 years ago.” This Reddit user [deleted] says, giving us the details. It is not surprising that playing sports is more popular in European countries instead of hitting the gym for a workout.

When you think about it, most European countries have very popular teams in sports like soccer (soccer in Europe is called football, while football in Europe is called “American Football”), hockey, and many others. It can be more beneficial to play a team sport than just working out at the gym. With a team sport, you can get more support, and you’re all working towards a goal while having fun. If you’re having fun while working out, you’ll want to keep doing it over and over again. It seems like a no-brainer if you enjoy it.


20. Exercising in Germany involves soccer.

“Visiting the gym is not only about muscle mass. In Germany, going to the gym is pretty common. More people regularly go than do any other sport. It is even bigger than our biggest sport, football. Especially among people doing “real sports” (yeah, weightlifting is no real sport, sure), it is very common to do supplementary training in gyms once you reach a somewhat ambitious level. While in some sports the supplementary training is often body weight exercise (dancing, climbing), in other sports like martial arts, rowing, and football, it is quite common to have weight rooms in clubs, and they get used.”

“The time “I don’t need to train my legs I play football” is definitively over. We are not in the 90s anymore,” says Reddit user R3gSh03 from Germany. It is interesting to see this point of view compared to the previous point of view that stated the opposite. It could be that these people live in different countries; unfortunately, we can’t tell because the other user’s account is deleted. It does make sense that anyone playing professional sports would need to work out more to stay at the top of their game. You can’t get as far now on just talent with all the competition out there. 


19. Exercising in France is a solo acitivity.

Reddit User Rarylith from France says, “From my experience, you’re better off doing it solo at your home than going to any gym wherever they’re in France. Mostly because once you signed the contract, the service is falling considerably; if they cared about you before, they’re wiping their ass with your existence after the signing. I’ve tried in multiple times, various gyms, various towns… it’s all the same. So exercise at home, run, do stuff, and that’s it.” It doesn’t sound like the gyms in France have the best reputations.

France is a Western European country, with a population of over 67 million. This country is known for having pretty healthy people, even known for their great bakery goods and fine wine. France is known for having some of the world’s best school lunch programs, which teach children healthy eating habits from an early age. Maybe this is a factor of why their gyms are lacking a little…simply not as many people use them. If the demand were higher for gyms, then the gym experience and customer service might be a greater need.


18. Sweden has some of the best gyms in the world.

“We have a strong gym culture here, and we are honestly very spoiled with our gyms, and I have not been impressed with the gyms I’ve been at in other countries. Almost every gym worth something has weightlifting platforms, multiple barbells from Eleiko, multiple squat racks, a machine pool for every muscle, rooms for group training, dumbbells from 1 kg to 50+, open areas for free training Crossfit style. Then there are Crossfit gyms in quite a few towns and cities. My town of 30,000 has 2.” says Reddit user gillberg43 of Sweden.

Sweden is a Northern European Country with a population of just over 10 million people. While having many wooded areas and icy mountains, Sweden has many islands that make up large cities and other towns. That could be a contributing factor to why the gym culture is much more than other European countries – in many places in Sweden, it’s harder to be outside and play sports, and it’s much colder most of the year. It sounds much better to stay inside and break a sweat inside than outside. 


17. Exercising in Norway is similar to the US.

Reddit user allgodsarefake2 from Norway says, “I’m not sure if it’s a general trend, but I’ve noticed that most of the people I know under 30 or so go to the gym regularly. And most of the guys lift weights for the sole purpose of building muscles, while it used to be a part of training for some kind of organized sport.” It’s interesting to see this observation and to understand it. We may need to look closer at Norway’s population.

Norway is a Northern European country that is located under Sweden. Norway is known for its rich Viking history, its interesting music scene(particularly the death metal music scene), and the fishing and hiking. It has a population of just over 5 million, while most people from ages 49-60 years of age. It’s interesting when we see this user saying that it’s mostly younger people they see attending the gym, while most of the population is much older. We may see people from Norway starting to live longer if the younger generation is taking its health more seriously.


16. Do most people in the United Kingdom exercise at gyms?

“The majority of the males in my office do, which surprised me. The idea of getting up even earlier for work for a heavy workout is crazy, in my opinion. It’s just me and an Irish bloke that doesn’t. So in answer to your question: yeah.” says Reddit user Bunt_smuggler from the United Kingdom. Getting to bed earlier and forming that morning routine can improve your overall health dramatically. To add in a workout, you only need to get to bed an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier to get a 30-40 minute workout in to start your day.

The United Kingdom is northwestern Europe and is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is the set for Harry Potter and is the birthplace of great bands like The Beatles. The United Kingdom is healthier than the USA as far as the weight of its citizens, and it seems like more people are taking their workouts more seriously over there. Hopefully, this Reddit user looks at their coworkers and jumps on that bandwagon too. They will thank them later when they are feeling better, both mentally and physically.


15. Health in Finland involves both exercise and diet.

“Yeah, lots of people go to the gym. Other’s stay thin by running, for example, which is very popular also.” hexaDogimal continues, “I stay not overweight by just controlling my food intake which is not sustainable in the long run (should start some form of exercise).” This Reddit user is right in that they should be combining exercise and watching what they eat. Your food consumption matters more when it comes to your weight. You can’t outwork a poor diet, especially with conveniently calorie-dense foods. It is too easy to eat double your daily calories and still feel hungry at the end of the day.

Finland is a small country north of Sweden and has a population of just over 5.5 million people. It has a very prominent fashion industry, so it is no wonder people are going to the gym and watching their weight. Finland is also known for its many ski resorts, and you can easily see the northern lights from its more northern cities, making it a desirable tourist destination. It is actually one of the most northern countries in the world. Finland is also known to be the home to some of the happiest people on earth.


14. Even teens love exercising in the gym in Bulgaria.

Reddit user AndyPhoenix says, “I would say so. In my mid-sized (for us) Bulgarian city going to the gym is basically the most popular “sport” for teens by far. Boys started attending as early as fifteen years old.” When we think of most teens in our lives, I would assume going to the gym wouldn’t be their daily pastime. Most teenagers now are playing video games or engaging on social media, playing in team sports, or working part-time. Teenagers exercising is not often in a gym setting, unless they are in school or in addition to their sport.

Bulgaria is a country in the middle of Greece, Romania, and Turkey. The east coast of Bulgaria is along the Black Sea, and it is very multicultural here because of its diverse neighbors. Its population is just over 7 million people and is generally a very safe place with its low crime rate. With the observation of this Reddit user, it is clear that Bulgaria is also a pretty healthy place and that its citizens take their health seriously. Even teenagers are going to the gym regularly and taking their health into their own hands.


13. The same goes for exercising in Denmark.

“There’s a gym outside my high school, and every day when class ends, it’s packed with us, students. People definitely go to the gym here,” says Reddit user oliv222. Again, we see more and more European/Eastern countries taking their exercising seriously. Many schools here don’t have a gym available after school hours, let alone it being filled with students. Often it takes much self-discipline for adults to get to the gym even three times a week in the USA and Canada, or even working out from home. It can be a struggle.

Denmark is a country that borders Germany’s most northern border and some of Sweden’s most southern border. It has a population of just over 5.8 million people and is also noted to have some of the happiest people on earth. Denmark is rich with historical culture and architecture and is home to a famous “Little Mermaid” statue. Denmark has an old-time feel to it while still being warm and inviting. With it being a bit more old-school, it makes sense that its citizens would be taking care of their health at a younger age.


12. Gyms are common in Estonia.

“Yes, there are lots of gyms where I live (Tallinn), prices are very different – from 15 to 80 euro per month. But even the cheapest ones have all the equipment you need. Many people go there.” volchonok1 says. This Reddit user makes this observation, and it’s interesting to hear that there is a wide range of pricing for membership. It shows that even in smaller countries, it pays to research all of your options because you could be overpaying for a service. Why pay four times the price for the same thing?

Estonia is one of the smallest countries on this list, with a population of just over 1.3 million people. To give some perspective, their whole country is just shy of the population of Dallas, Texas. Estonia has many islands and has many castles, fortresses, and churches still standing today from hundreds of years ago. Its medieval architecture is one of its main tourist attractions. Estonia also has some of the best air quality globally, according to the World Health Organization(WHO), which is amazing for your overall health and for working out outdoors. 


11. If you visit Belfast, Ireland, you’ll find a mixture of gyms and sports.

Reddit user nadhbhs says, “I know a lot of people who go to the gym, but I don’t know many people who find it fun. Personally, I prefer sports and then home exercises to complement those, whether working on muscles to develop them better for the sport or giving a workout to the muscles missed by the sport.” It is beneficial to know how you like to work out. Working out alone in a gym is painfully boring for many people, so they need the social aspect that group sports give. There is no shame in not going to the gym if you are getting your exercise somewhere else.

Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital (and the largest city) and was the birthplace of the Titanic. The city has a large museum for the Titanic now, which resembles the ship’s hull and is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Belfast has a population of just over 280 thousand people and is generally a safe city. Some say it is best to avoid certain areas, especially after dark; however, it is not generally a concern for tourists. Ireland, in general, is known for its many football/soccer teams, so it makes sense that this is preferred to going to the gym.


10. Playing sports versus going to the gym is a hot debate in other countries.

“Sure, gyms are very popular! But so is running. You see a lot of runners in the streets in the evenings and weekends. For men, it’s also quite common to play some sport as a hobby. Some do it in a more structured way with a “real team,” others just do it casually for fun. For some reason, I don’t find this to be as common for women.” [deleted] Reddit user explains what seems to be a common observation in a lot of European countries. The gyms seem to be more of an afterthought when it comes to exercise.

There are some pros and cons to only using sports as your workouts than going to the gym. If you are doing sports for fun, you may not take it seriously; however, it’s just that – FUN! However, when you go to a gym, your paying for it and, therefore, might take it more seriously and do it more often. It’s hard to say which is better. As long as you break a sweat and get a workout several times a week, you should be good. It’s all about how you feel in the end. 


9. Do other countries crossfit or bodybuild?

“When I was a teenager, bodybuilding was very popular. In the last ten years, Crossfit took over. I prefer bodybuilding to Crossfit. Gyms are usually “sausage parties.” Females barely work out.” [deleted] This Reddit user will see more and more females working out now. It was more male-dominated, especially with bodybuilding, now with CrossFit more popular, more and more females are working out in the gym. Crossfit Games has also made the sport more popular for both men and women.

Bodybuilding is more focused on building muscle and reducing fat. It is appearance-based training and is all about the gains. Crossfit, on the other hand, is all about strength and conditioning. The goal is not to lose fat or gain muscle but to do better than your previous workout. Crossfit is not focused on appearance at all and is like a bonus to your workouts. Being more fit will usually lead to the person being more fit and “appearing” fitter. It is all about how you feel and your performance, which is the most important aspect for many people. 


8. Exercising is all about style, right?

“The UK here. It is fairly popular. Most guys I know who are C2DE are pretty into it. I think US culture suits it a bit more, though – it’s hard to look good in clothes if you are massive. In the US, you all wear baggy/gangster-type clothing. I know people will refute this, but even people who dress in other ways there tend to wear things in much larger sizes, and the sort of stylish dress we have here isn’t as common.” It definitely seems to be a common trend in European countries to wear more fitting, athletic clothing as casual “everyday” clothes.

Reddit User kaiserpuss continues, “Most girls I know are absolutely not into big guys at all, sure they like a six pack and all that but guys who go to the gym 4+ times a week and post photos of 80 chicken breasts to Facebook are not generally seen as attractive apart from by certain…chavier ladies.” It is interesting to think that “dad-bods” in most places are considered the preferred body type for men. Also, often men find women with larger hips to be more attractive because it shows good childbearing. It is just a subconscious thing that can’t be helped – a male instinct. 


7. Tete means brother in this gym…

“Spanish guy here. I’m pretty sure there isn’t that much of lift culture, and if someone said, “Do you even lift, bro” in Spanish, it would be the most absurd thing to say ever. Although, there are some TV shows where they show buffed guys trying to get with skanks (Spanish TV is seriously garbage), and they usually make them look dumb and ignorant as hell, to the point that people use some of their idioms as a joke.” This kind of sounds like the Spanish version of Jersey Shore, except maybe not as much drinking, tanning, and laundry happening.

Reddit user PhreakMarryMe continues explaining, “As an example, the most famous word is “tete,” and it’s how toddlers call their brothers. For some reason, these buffed guys call “tete” their friends, and it just became a joke that, when you want to sound stupid when talking to your friends, you’ll start saying “tete.” It also became a word to refer to these stupid, buffed guys. So guys, if you come to Spain, do not, by any means, use the word tete unless they are sure you are joking. They’ll start thinking you are an idiot.”


6. Do you even lift in England?

“I’m in England, and I’ve literally never heard anybody talk about “lifting” in real life. I know loads of people who go to the gym, but I guess mainly for general exercise/cardio type stuff, not bulking up. Even the most “gym loving” demographic seems more about a muscled but lean, athletic body type than being “ripped” per se.” [deleted] Reddit user says, which seems to be more of a Crossfit mentality. Maybe where they are in England, this is the preferred fitness practice. Cardio exercises should also be done every day regardless, as it is great for your heart health.

The Reddit user continues, “No doubt there is a segment of people heavily into the weights, but I guess they’re a bit more niche. I can’t really compare to the US though since I haven’t lived there. I mean, “do you even lift?” seems like a big and ubiquitous catchphrase but it was a joke, right? From over here, it seems hard to believe the lifting body type is as ubiquitous/’mandatory’ as you’re making out, but what do I know.” In many places, that mentality and practice of lifting are for sure the most popular. 


5. Poland doesn’t have too many of those macho meatheads.

“In Poland, the guy with so many muscles that he can’t keep his arms at his sides is very much laughed at as being a vain unintelligent meathead. Of course, beer bellies are frowned on too, but there isn’t as much junk/convenience food consumption here, so waistlines are far smaller than their Western counterparts anyway, and therefore there isn’t as much pressure to get back in shape. “says Reddit user Grrrmachine. It is probably one of the best pieces of advice we can take from European lifestyles – eat less junk, and eat more whole foods and vegetables.

They continue, “As far as dating goes, typical wooing (flowers, holding doors open, fancy restaurants) coupled with traditional status symbols (fancy car, steady job, managerial prospects, etc.) are far more seductive than how much you can lift. Sure, people exercise, and gym membership is growing, but people mostly go running or cycling or play sports like volleyball, rather than pumping iron. I work with a few guys who talk about lifting while consuming protein shakes in the office, and they’re generally looked on as being a bit weird. Funnily enough, they’re all single too.”


4. Exercising in Canada compared to the rest of Europe.

Damnyouresickbro says, “I’m from Canada, but all my family is in Europe, and I have spent a good amount of time there. What I can say is that lifting is not very common. You’ll get the random pockets of guys that are into it, but for the most part, a lot aren’t into it. I’ve come up with many theories as to why this is. The first is that they don’t have the same resources as we do here. Supplements and food are much more expensive, so you don’t see many people going on a “bulk” as they don’t have the resources to do so. Also, they rely more on public transportation and walking, which causes them to burn a decent amount of calories throughout the day. In North America, you pretty much drive everywhere in most areas.”

“The second is that there is less competition for women. North America has a disproportionate amount of overweight people. When this comes to the economics of sex, it changes as there are fewer overweight women in Europe. In North America, there are more overweight women. Also, in North America, you have to be in very good shape to get attention from the 8’s and 9’s as being in shape alone will probably make you a seven automatically as a girl. Here, In Europe, that’s not the case. Lastly, I’d say it’s not the desired look. Girls in Europe are thinner, on average, so they don’t need a massive bloated-looking meathead. Being in shape is definitely a plus regardless, but an athletic look is more desired than just a pure mass look. My opinion on this is that girls always want a guy bigger than them. In North America, you have big women, therefore leading to the formation of big men.”


3. What’s it like in the big city of Toronto?

“Toronto, Canada here. In this city, if you’re not part of one of the sub-cultures, you’re pretty much persona non grata. The population of this city is so large, and it’s so spread out that the choices for dating are pretty much infinite, so it makes it really easy to discard/disregard a person for a small flaw because there’s another just around the corner. Owing to its puritanical/British past, it’s also a pretty shallow place. Everybody is in constant competition with everybody else for indicators of success (who has the higher-paying job, who has the nicer toys, who has the nicer house, who has the hotter girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.).”

“So the natural extension of that is physical appearance. If everybody is shallow and will judge you immediately on your clothes and body shape, you pretty much have to lift and have sub-15% body fat to stand a chance. Because everybody else does it, and if you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind. There are the jacked 260 lb power-lifting, steroid-using meatheads, but that’s its own sub-culture. Basically, the 170-190lb, 12% bf lean look is in here (think Greek/Roman statues), so that’s what everybody goes for.” says [deleted] Reddit user. If you are not taking your fitness seriously, how can a partner who values health take you seriously?


2. New Zealand gyms include rugby, squash, and cricket.

“There are gyms in both small towns and bigger cities; obviously, there’s variation in size/quality/facilities, etc. Usually, membership will cost a certain amount per week, as well as a joining fee (generally between $50-$100). At the moment, I pay $14 per week but have also paid $11 per week and $20 per week at two other gyms.” Like other places around the world, it seems there is a variety of prices, but not much difference in the actual gyms themselves. Generally, they all have the same equipment, while some may have additional services and products. 

Reddit user angelofdeaf continues, “All the gyms I’ve been to have free weights. I know of a few shops around that sell supplements, often it’s available to be purchased at the gym itself, and it’s also easy to buy it online. Exercise is pretty common here. Lots of people play sports – rugby (union & league), soccer, netball, tennis, squash, cricket, etc. – and I know plenty of people that go to a gym.” From this observation, it seems like, in New Zealand, there is a good balance of team sports being played along with going to the gym.


1. Exercising in India means going to the akharas.

“Yes, almost all cities have gyms. Even villages have traditional gyms called akharas, but they’re more like wrestling clubs. Gym cost may range from 700 INR (12 USD) to 10,000 INR (180 USD) per month, depending on which part of India you live in and what kind of gym you go to. A lot of smaller gyms mostly have free weights, a treadmill, and an exercycle.” Says Reddit user one_brown_jedi. Between $12-$180 is quite a large difference to pay for your membership – hopefully, they are looking at the pros and cons of each gym.

They continue, “Yes, a protein supplement is widely available and is quite cheap. If you buy in bulk, then it’s cheaper. We don’t have many gym rats; most are people trying to stay in shape. Exercise is not a common thing; most people are way out of shape. Our diet is mostly carbs and no protein.” Again, this shows that no matter where you live and the amount of exercise you get, your health needs to start in the kitchen. Your diet is the most important part of your health journey, and exercise comes second (still very important to have both, though.) If you were facisnated by these global exercising differences, read about how people from around the world described how their US healthcare.