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Moscow subway sells free tickets for 30 sit-ups (pravda.ru)
140 points by vladgur on Nov 10, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 80 comments

As Russian I want to share my first association:


Westerners could try to understand it by watching entire movie:




Highly recommend everyone gets a copy of Kin-dza-dza (with subtitles, if necessary) and watch it. Very quirky and amusing sci-fi. Apocalyptic/alien exploration crossed with Les Visiteurs.

Mosfilm, the huge Soviet-era movie studio, has published a sizable portion of their catalog for free viewing on YouTube: http://youtube.com/mosfilm.

A lot of them have English subtitles. Kin-dza-dza is indeed up there. Brilliantovaya Ruka (The Diamond Arm) is another favorite of mine available with subtitles. And perhaps the most popular is the holiday classic The Irony of Fate.

Thanks very much for sharing

The movie is about "some absurd country", which was a laugh at Soviet Union. A country that is developed enough to send shuttles to space, but on the other hand is an empty desert with overpowered police(in the movie they are called "ecilop"), dumb leaders that people worship etc. Movie is definitely a must-see.

It wasn't a laugh about Soviet Union specifically; rather a warning where one might end up.

I would say modern Russia is far more like Pluk (planet in the movie) than Soviet Union was - so that's where we actually got.

Planet Alpha near the end of the movie is another laugh at imaginary Socialist paradise - a planet with ideal ecology and society, where you have to wear a gas mask when your breath doesn't qualify. Also, decisions by wise post-human elders can't be overriden.

Above linked YouTube videos have English subtitles.


Amazing movie. I remember when I first saw it: I was maybe 15 then, and was going to go out when the movie started. I stayed just to see what it was about and ended up staying for the whole of it.

According to the BBC coverage of this story(and what is actually shown in the video), it was squats rather than situps:


Unfortunately the article links to the wrong video.

Link to actual youtube video:


I envision people standing there doing squats all day churning out tickets and selling them/asking for change.

A year or so ago, there was a thread on r/fitness about this group of people who had tried to do 1000 kettlebell swings a day for 10 days, and it turned to a discussion of whether it would even be possible to do this for squats or other exercises.

So I decided to try. I managed to put in about 400 a day, and I think I reached 600 one of the days.

I'm an amateur power lifter. My squat max is about 190kg, and I do about 80 or so weighted reps on my squat days, ranging from 70kg on the lightest warmup set up to about 160kg x 5, and 5 sets of 10 at 80kg.

That feels like nothing compared to doing 400 body weight squats per day. The soreness and burn was just terrible, but worst was the demotivating effect of knowing you have still more sets (I varied my sets between 25 and 100 reps; ~35-50 seemed to be optimal for me in getting as many done as quickly as possible)

I'd like to try a high rep program again (probably not that high) for a few weeks to see how it works during a cut, as that was the original purpose of the kettlebell experiment mentioned, but the brutal effect on motivation is not something I look forward to.

To be fair, as a powerlifter, I suspect you are highly adapted to maximising peak power, rather than prolonged power over 400 - 1000 squats. I would think that anything above 100 largely becomes an endurance exercise which requires a very different adaptation.

As a 48yo rower, I can do IRO 300 squats before feeling the burn too badly, but then I have been doing endurance-type training for the past 35 years. I have known lightweight rowers who were pretty much unlimited in the number they could do in 1 hit. Their only limit was needing to eat/sleep/etc!

Jaromir Jagr, a famous hockey player has said he started doing 100 squats a day when he is 13 and now he is one of the best skaters, even at 40. Just interesting fact

See also "The Heavy Lifting Mule Women of Melilla".

If you can carry goods over the border between Melilla and Morocco on your back you don't have to pay import duties. So, women queue up to carry the goods over for you, for a small fee.


I wonder what would happen if a city's homeless population suddenly became ultra fit?

We have a penalty system at work if you break the build or cause the music to skip, or any number of other frivolous "office infractions" you have to put a buck in our tip jar which is used to buy beer. If you don't want to pay the buck, though, you can optionally do 20 pushups instead. So far only one person has opted for the pushups though.

That sounds suspiciously like brogramming to me. You must donate $20 to the Ada Initiative as a penalty for your non-inclusive work culture. Or alternative, do 50 lunges.

I don't get it. Are women supposed to be averse to pushups? Maybe you haven't met my sister; she runs marathons and is a Soo Bahk Do black belt. Pushups: no problem.

I quite like this comment. But it appears we are in the minority. :)

haha, yea sadly we're about as far from bros as it can get. Of our two girls in the office - one of them is far more crass than any of the guys!

Make it one pushup for first infraction, and increase by one for each infraction by the same person. (Gives you a nice progression. A key to physical fitness.)

My co-founder and I probably did on the order of 10,000 pushups each in the first half year of our startup over bets like that.

I would rather enforce the pushups..

This sort of thing could be put to good use, for instance if they installed massive ranks of bicycle generators, they could let people get tickets by actually powering the trains.

I think we are rediscovering civilization :) Before long, people would realize - hey! cattle are even stronger than humans. We will have horse-drawn carriages in the near future. :)

They've used to do that kind of thing in the past http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barge_Haulers_on_the_Volga

I was thinking of Charlie Brooker's version from Black Mirror.

There already is the little old lady in the booth at the bottom of every escalator in the Moscow subway. Isn't she on a bike powering the escalators? :)

I went to Moscow in 1986. I was yelled at by one of those little old ladies because I made the mistake of trying to take a photo of the (beautiful) underground station.

I hope someone (Google maps?) will eventually get around to documenting these and other stations.

Sorry for your poor experience. You can make photos in Metro for a few years now, and it's official.

I think there are extensive sets of stations' photos somewhere on the net (Wikimedia commons?)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Taganskaya-Koltse... , for example

> Sorry for your poor experience.

Oh no! I had been warned not to take photos. It was my own fault. I had an amazing time in Russia, even in 1986.

This doesn't generate nearly enough power to be cost- or energy-efficient. It would be a fun gimmick though.

Yeah, or you could ride a bicycle to where you're going.

Moscow doesn't strike me as the best place for that, at least during the winter.

In French train stations, there are installations which allow you to charge your electrical devices by pedaling. I'm sure these must have been installed in other countries as well.

This is an amazing idea. Wish it would find widespread (global) use.

(Although this would potentially lead to a completely subsidized transport system... but then you could increase the barrier to getting the free ticket or have the barrier depend on the person's physical fitness... and you might get the cost for the tickets back from the decrease in healthcare costs... it's just got so much potential!)

But this couldn't be introduced in the US, and maybe not even in Europe. In the US you would definitely get instantly sued (and lose) for discrimination on physical fitness.

Not if you also offered a method to pay cash for the tickets. No discrimination then.

I'm not so sure about that... what if you're a disabled person?

What if you started giving free tickets to people who can do 60 sit-ups, or 100, instead of 30? Wouldn't this mean free tickets for men only (or mostly)?

So give the disabled people a free ride (which, YMMV, they should be getting anyway and actually are already in Germany)

As for the men-only part... enhance the system to not use a fixed number but have that number depend on the applicant's estimated gender, age, weight etc.

You could even gamify this, gain money from selling people's user statistics (ugh!) etc.

Disabled have a free ride in Moscow metro. Elders have a free ride if they are registered in Moscow.

> 60 sit-ups, or 100, instead of 30? Wouldn't this mean free tickets for men only (or mostly)?

Why would you think that? Body weight exercises are generally easier for smaller built people to get good at. For one, it gets harder and harder to add more muscle as you get bigger, and secondly smaller built people have shorter distances to move. If it was limited by explosive strength, maybe, because it's harder for women to grow large muscle volume, but if you can do 10-20 plus, it's pretty much down to endurance beyond that point.

You alter the activity for different disabilities. Someone unable to use their legs could do some lifting. Someone unable to use their legs or arms could do some encouraging yelling to other people.

Don't let diversity scare you away from doing things - do them, but make best efforts to be inclusive.

I don't think that there's any reason that as long as you offer means for paying cash you could be easily sued.

That's speaking for Germany, at least. Sadly, I can imagine what such a lawsuit would look like in the US rather well :(

Set up an independent kiosk nearby that traded exercise (under the guise of energy generation) for free tickets.

What if you generated electricity and stored it into a battery and then the transit system just paid an equivalent amount for the electricity?

Or you could set up a treadmill, and you get a kilometre of free train transport for every kilometre you walk on the treadmill. Call it performance art.

Interesting idea, but I don't think many metro systems are set up to easily sell 'a kilometer' of transport?

Just make it work out on average.

I think you phrased this a little too glibly, but it's a very good point. You can tune two systems to have roughly the "exchange rate" that you'd like to see (unless each is highly sensitive to the other), even if there's not a direct point-for-points correspondence, but it's not necessarily easy to think of that.

Do you mean it's possible without changing the existing ticket systems, or that it's possible to adapt the ticket systems so it could work? For instance, the systems I've used sell tickets either by zone (unlimited travel within a region for x time) or by train station, where the difference between stations varies widely but the cost between stations doesn't.

I think you can mostly make it work for any existing ticketing system.

By `mostly work', I mean `good enough for an art project'.

The better choice is to just subsidize the transport system and forget stupid gimmicks about getting free tickets.

Hm. Somebody doesn't like to exercise.

We could channel charity money through ideas like this.

No points for climbing those stairs when the escalators are down? They are the deepest subway I've even been in (also the most beautiful, goes without saying).

Points for running them! Also hopping up one-legged. Like by son's Tae Kwon Do national team did for conditioning.

indian railways please implement this in india. we have a sizable obese population who would do anything to get a free ride. health and money at one go. so much win

This whole idea is pretty weird. Not surprising it comes from Russia. It is very reminiscent of the idea promoted both by the Nazis and communists that citizens should be fit for the state.

How is it any weirder than forcing people to purchase financial services that pay for medical treatments, something that most countries do? Once you make people's health a collective responsibility, it hardly seems unreasonable to demand that people maintain fitness.

I just wish they didn't do situps. Situps are terrible for your back. There are so many better options - just make people hold a plank for a minute.

It was probably one of the easier exercises to monitor automatically, I should think a camera is less prone wear&tear than a pressure mat for planking... There is also hygiene to think about, not in the sense of an actual concern, but in the sense that people will be more averse to lying face down on a mat used by maybe hundreds of people every day.

I do agree with your sentiment BTW, here in Norway there's been quite a bit of talk about similar programs through the years, but there are just too many pit-falls on the way, usually doesn't even get past the "Rights for X" organisations' whining.

well. its an optional thing. no one is forcing anyone. its good to have that choice

Another example to something in this realm comes from Brazil, where you can cut time from your prison sentence by riding bikes. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/12/stationary-bi...

and yea, totally Black Mirror S01E02. The best one imho.

I'm all for promoting physical fitness, but this seems like discrimination against elderly / disabled people.

I see no problem with promoting good health. There are plenty of elderly people who can do sit-ups.

People who weigh over 350lbs eat free at Heart Attack Grill. Are they discriminating against non-obease people?

> Are they discriminating against non-obease people?

Yes. It doesn't get any more straightforward than that.

Just like giving free rides to disabled people is discriminatory against healthy people?

Yes, absolutely. Is there something I'm missing here? These questions seem easy.

Doing a round of sit-ups != good health.

You got it backward. Not doing a round of situps == bad health.

Well public healthcare is discriminatory towards elderly / disabled people so that should balance that out.

Just because an initiative does not target a specific group of people does not necessarily mean that it discriminates against them.

The elderly and the disabled already get discounts or free transportation. Do you find it discriminating against young / able people?

Boo fucking hoo.

In the French Foreign Legion they have l'aperitif, which is that you do 10 chin-ups before entering the mess hall. SWMBO has vetoed me instigating a similar policy for our dining room.

This is fatshaming. Thin privilege is getting free subway rides. thisisthinprivilege.tumblr.com (couldn't resist)

I suppose it wont last long past Sochi-2014 Olympics.

every crazy dictator is found of eugenics.

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