Going to the gym in France: Is it different?


If you know me, you know working out and maintaining my body- weight etc is a huge part of my life (thanks PCOS) but also because when I first moved to France I wasn’t able to work (because of my visa) so I relied on the gym as the base for giving myself a daily schedule. – It really helped me.

Right now I’m in #summerbod mode so I’ve been in the gym even more so than ever… so I thought I’d share some things with you all that I’ve noticed about going to the gym here in France.


Gym classes: 

Most gyms work with a program called Les Mills which I believe is also in gyms in the US. The types of classes that are available are Body pump, RPM, Body attack, CX works and a few others!


Yes, the classes are in french and while it is a little hard to follow along- especially for me when I first moved… (knowing ZERO French). Going to theses classes helped me a lot in my beginning stages of learning French and also just gave me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone and try something new!

It might sound a bit shocking but being in a different country and not knowing the language can be a bit isolating. So much that I’ve really had to FORCE myself to get out of the house and just go do my normal things even if they do feel scary (everything felt scary at first).

Something like going to the gym is obviously so easy back home, you just go… but for me being here… it was a huge task. To drive there (different roads/small parking spaces) to enter and worry about if someone was going to start talking to me in french and I wouldn’t understand them and then the thought of taking a class and not knowing what I was doing or making a fool of myself by doing the wrong thing.

Luckily, like in the US… in most group fitness classes the teacher demonstrates everything and there are plenty of people around to follow along with.

On the plus side- a lot of words that are used during workouts are surprisingly in english.

English words I hear at the gym:






“Let’s go!” / “Go”


(While that might not seem like a lot- hearing these words come in handy!) 

Maybe I’m crazy or just not going to the “right” gym but I have noticed that the level in the classes is a lot lower than my experiences with group fitness classes in the US.

However, that opinion comes from my experiences with group classes and boutique fitness studios in Los Angeles which are SUPER HARDCORE… SO, I might be the only one who thinks that.

I do find myself not going to the group classes as often as I would like to just simply because it’s not enough BUT they are still perfect for those days when Im feeling lazy and just want to work a little sweat and let someone else tell me what to do… (but that’s just me).

The facilities: 

Just like in the US, you pretty much get what you pay for.

Right now I’m currently paying about 60€ a month for my gym.

What I get: 

  • Two locations (one near my home and one near the city centre)
  • Unlimited group classes
  • Pool | Unlimited Pool Classes
  • Sauna
  • Steam room
  • Locker room/showers
  • Cardio Room
  • Strength training room
  • There is also an option for personal training sessions and body analysis for no additional price

The gym that I’m currently at is on the pricer side but it is extremely clean, well kept and it feels good to be there. There are also options for morning classes which I noticed at some of the cheaper gyms there are only classes in the evening.


Last year I was going to a gym that was about 30€ a month and the facility was not as nice and pleasant to be in, AND there was no pool/pool classes or steam room.

So, like I said… like most places- you get what you pay for.

The locker room: 


From what I can remember, normally… in US locker rooms we go in and do whatever we have to do only speaking to people we know (maybe?) and then we get out. It’s most definitely not a super social environment right??

The first few times I went to the locker room, I was caught a little off guard. I noticed that every person that walked into the locker room said “Bonjour” to everyone… and when anyone left they always made sure they said “Au revoir”. Like an announcement- not saying hello or goodbye to everyone individually but saying it to the whole room.


My original thought was… maybe everyone just knows each other here, maybe they’ve all been going to this gym together for a while… I didn’t think anything of it.

Then I joined a new gym here in Orleans and I noticed it again, and not only in the locker room but now for entrances and exits of the sauna and steam room.

Whats going on here? Why is everyone so nice? 

The sad thing is, and it probably sounds SO awful but I really felt like “Ugh, since everyone else is saying hello and goodbye does that mean I have to??”  (Of course I say it back when someone else says it) but the thought of saying Bonjour and Au revoir every time I entered or exited the locker room/steam room/ sauna began to give me a tiny bit of anxiety… partially because of the speaking french part but also because in my country I am so used to NOT saying hello and goodbye in those situations…it’s safe to say a lot of us Americans stay in our own bubble.

I shared my experience on my instagram story as well with a few of my friends here… I got a few different and interesting responses.


While this is just one of the cultural differences I’ve encountered it’s made me think a lot…

Why am I stuck in my own little bubble? Why don’t I acknowledge the people around me that I’m sharing a space with? Wouldn’t it be easier to just acknowledge everyone rather than being awkwardly silent and not even saying a word to the human being that is sitting right beside me…

Crazy what going to the gym in another country can make you think about right? lol

Since I came to this realization I pleased to announce I am officially saying Bonjour and Au revoir when I enter and exit these areas in the gym and while it is still not 100% natural…YET (sometimes I forget and then I feel bad about it lol) It feels good and just makes more sense. Part of what living abroad has done for me is give me the chance to explore different types of people and cultures and while I’m here I might as well adapt especially if all it’s doing is making me a nicer person!


I think we all should acknowledge each other a little more where-ever we are in the world. Maybe it’ll make us all a step closer to making our home a nicer place.


As always, thanks for reading! 

Au revoir!

Ps: If you have been reading my posts and like them- I would really appreciate it if you would follow my blog or hit like* 🙂

Also if you would like to subscribe to my youtube channel that I am working on developing a little more here is the link: MissToMadame Youtube

xx Shalize








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