Passengers do Squats to Pay for Tickets
The Russian Olympic Committee and Moscow city officials have come up with a great new way to encourage metro riders to exercise: paying for their train tickets by doing 30 squats.
Throughout November, subway passengers can choose to perform 30 “Olympic standard” squats in two minutes. If they manage to complete the challenge, a machine prints out a ticket worth 30 rubles (57p), which is the price of one-way fare.
A special machine with the Olympic logo on it has been placed next to the regular ticket vending machines at Vystavochnaya metro station in Moscow. Passengers perform the squats in front of the machine, which is able to tell if the person is in the right position. A supervisor is also there to oversee the exercise, answering any questions and making sure no passengers are slacking.
Gymnast Yelena Zamolodchikova, winner of two gold medals at the Sydney Olympics, was the first person to pay for her ticket with squats, and although some of the passengers find the task difficult, others were pleasantly surprised with themselves. “It was hard at first,” said one young woman who tried the machine, “but I managed it. Two minutes is enough time.”
President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov said that the Olympic Games is not just something for people to watch on television, “but are also about getting everyone involved in a sporting lifestyle”.
The squat machines are not the only changes to have been made in Moscow. Exercise bands instead of handles on buses and exercise bikes in the street the people cycle on to produce electricity to charge their mobile phones, all installed to encourage Russians to try to get fit and exercise often before the Sochi Winter Olympics, which will run from 7 February to 23 February.
The Sochi Games have already made history with the Olympic torch being the first ever to be taken on a spacewalk as part of the torch relay. Other Olympic torches have been taken up into space before, but the Sochi torch is the first actually to leave the spacecraft and go into open space. Unfortunately, it wasn’t lit because of the lack of oxygen in space.
The torch relay, which started in Moscow on 7 October, will take four months and will be the longest in Olympic history. Last month, the Olympic flame was taken to the North Pole, and later this month is will travel to the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake in Siberia. Just before the Games begin in February, the torch will be taken to the peak of Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Russia.
With all of this going on and the innovative keep-fit ideas dotted around Moscow, Russia are certainly making sure the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will be something to remember. And who knows? Maybe one of those passengers who surprised themselves in the squat challenge in exchange for a free train ticket will be the next big Russian Olympic athlete.