Free Subway Tickets For Exercising: Good or Bad Idea?

posted in: Inspiration, Uncategorized, Videos | 6

So, you’re on your way to the Moscow subway, which is obviously where you go every morning (who doesn’t?). You’re on time as usual. But today, you notice a new, snazzy machine resting beside the normal ticket machines. It turns out that this special machine offers subway tickets just like the others do, but it doesn’t deal in rubles. In fact, it does not accept any money for payment at all. Instead, the only currency it accepts is exercise, or more specifically, squats.

Think I’m crazy? Well, this is actually real. A Russian organization called Olympic Change installed these special ticket machines in Moscow subway stations to promote the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.  The machines are equipped with a camera, a screen, and a platform to help you count your reps. And after you finish your 30th repetition, out pops your ticket. And apparently, this machine can also tell if you’re cheating, too. You can see it in action in the video below.

Note: If you can’t read Russian, make sure the Captions feature is enabled in the Youtube player (ie CC button).

Now, maybe it’s just the peppy music, but I think I might be warming up to this kind of thing. But if I really think about it, I guess I have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I think it’s a really cool idea that introduces an element of fun to a normally uneventful commute. Plus, it gets people moving or exercising, if you prefer. And more importantly, it gets people smiling, which probably justifies the idea in-and-of-itself.

But, on the other hand, I can’t help but think…

“Oh, you did WHAT?!? Thirty? THIRTY Squats! Whadda-good-boy! Here’s a cookie…err…ticket!”

I’m sorry – couldn’t help myself.

But in all seriousness, and not to be a complete curmudgeon, but do we really need a treat, prize, or an otherwise immediate, external incentive to get us to exercise? Won’t this reinforce our extreme addiction to instant gratification? And doesn’t it distort our perception of exercise? I think it could – even if only in small ways. At the very least, I feel compelled to mention that something as innocent as a fun, active way to get a free subway ticket might subtly interfere with our subconscious ideas toward the real value and purpose of exercise. That’s all. And hey, this is just how I think. So, I’m putting it out there.

All right. Shut up, John. It’s a clever idea. Not to mention that people were smiling in the video. And the music was nice, too, which completely invalidates your points. And besides, these ticket machines are only temporary. So, you’ll be glad to hear that the Moscow subway commuters will be back to their boring commutes in no time. So, give it a break!

OK. You win.

And if you do ride the Moscow subways and encounter one of these machines, make sure you don’t pull a muscle or strain an organ while you’re reppin’ out. You gotta represent! Mmkay?

Would you do 30 squats for a subway ticket?

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And if you’re wondering. Why yes; yes, I would.

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6 Responses

  1. We are a self selecting sample as far as the survey goes. If anyone says not, you should unsubscribe him (or her) immediately. ;-)

    The best part was the smiles, but the guy who did pistols made me laugh.

  2. I have seen some videos posted from Russia That show they are serious about exercise. The parks there have all sorts of bars to work out on and they even have competitions using pull up types and bar dip types. Crazy good to watch.

    • Physical culture is alive and well in Russia. And in some ways, they set a good example for the USA and the rest of the world.

  3. Pamela Wood Kaplan

    I think it is fascinating that they used the squat, the most basic of all human movement. When I saw that the feet had to be close together and relatively parallel, I was surprised that so many people could do them. But you can’t tell exactly what the optical sensor is tracking and so you don’t know how low you have to go to make it qualify the squat. I train mostly women over 50 and their squats are nearly nonexistent when they start with us. I tell them that their squats are “culturally disadvantaged.” Originally I was thinking about that with regard to Asian culture.

    • You ain’t kiddin’ Pamela! And it’s not just 50+ women who can’t squat. In my experience, most non-trained persons either can’t squat at all, or if they can approximate the movement/position, then they cannot do so without great effort, discomfort, or strain, etc.

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