Thirty Squats for a Free Subway Ride

(Photo: cyphunk .)

(Photo: cyphunk .)

This month, Moscow is offering free subway rides to passengers who can do 30 squats. It’s part Olympic fever, part healthy-lifestyle promotion, via the Wall Street Journal (and be sure to check out the pictures):

Moscow city officials are now offering free rides on the subway to any passenger who does 30 squats before crossing the ticket barrier to enter the metro in an effort to promote physical fitness and sports, according to Russian state media reports.

Each squat will be counted by a special machine marked with the Olympic logo that will be placed next to electronic ticket vending machines.

“We wanted to show that the Olympic Games is not just an international competition that people watch on TV, but that it is also about getting everyone involved in a sporting lifestyle,” Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, was quoted by state-run news wire RIA-Novosti as saying.

Julien Couvreur

Sweaty subway riders, yuck!


Do they mean squat thrusts? Squats are usually done with barbells, so even if there was an adjustable-weight Nautilus-type machine in the subway, riders could simply calibrate it to a much easier resistance than they can handle and cheat the system. (The Russians tend to do well in weight lifting, too.)

Enter your name...

No, I think they mean just plain old squats: Stand up, squat down so that you could touch the floor, stand up again.

For many non-athletic people, doing thirty of those in rapid succession is hard enough. For many elderly people and people with bad knees, it's impossible.


I suppose it's better than the old Russian practice of killing every 30th person when their papers are out of order.

Steve Cebalt

As a PR person, I must say that this sounds like a great idea -- better than almost any health campaign I have seen. It engages people; makes for fun subway-platform scenes and conversations; and gets people in the Olympic spirit, all with a decent incentive -- a lot of people will do crazier things to save a subway fare. I'd suggest they make it 10 squats instead 30; 30 is kinda hard. For sedentary people doing 10 squats a couple times a day is a huge leap from zero exercise.

I agree with Julien though -- sweaty subway riders, yuk!


At best, this will be a worthless publicity stunt. In most metro stations, there's little space for athletics with the large crowds pouring through. The Moscow metro carries 7 million passengers a day; in passenger usage, it's second only to Seoul's metro.

The metro and buses are overcrowded, the streets are overcrowded. The city badly needs a transportation plan, but the mayor's solutions are gimmicks because he is beholden only to his pal, Putin, not to the voters, who'd have turfed him out if the election wasn't rigged.

Putin doesn't ride the metro and has the traffic stopped so his cortege can zip down the roads unhindered. He wouldn't notice the difference between real and fake even if Potemkin rose from the grave and took credit for his work.


This seems like an interesting and fun way to get a ticket. I would rather do 30 squats than have to pay for a ticket and it would be great to see people doing this. It's an original idea that saves people some money while forcing physical activity.

Chris Weaver

Interesting incentive, exercise for a free ride.. But would this be effective in the US? It is debatable, there is always that person that would care less and still pay the fare. However, the idea of being able to get your money back at the small price of exercise does sound lucrative. To be honest I think that this would be a hit or miss, but there will certainly be people using this to get a free ticket.

Andreas Moser

If the people who win free subway rides would otherwise have walked home or used the bicycle, this will have an adverse effect.