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13 November 2013updated 20 Aug 2021 1:44pm

In Russia, commuters can pay for their journeys with exercise

A Moscow Metro station is offering travellers the chance to do 30 squats in return for a free train ticket.

By Ian Steadman

Would you rather do exercise than pay for your train ticket every day?

That’s happening in Moscow right now:

If you manage to pull off 30 squats while the machine watches you, you get a ticket. The machines are in Vystavochaya station for a month as a promotion for the Sochi Winter Olympics next year.

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“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, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The rides-for-squats vending machine, which will be in place for the next month, use sensors to tot up the number of squats achieved within the time limit. Hit the target and it issues a ticket. However, if your knees give away mid-squat, or if you only manage 29 or fewer in the allotted time, you’ll need to crawl over to a regular ticket machine and feed it with money.

A normal ticket costs 30 rubles (or 57p), so perhaps journeys are so cheap that squats aren’t that attractive a proposal compared to just paying the fine. In London, where a standard single journey between two zone 1 destinations, at peak times, is £2.10 on Oyster – or £4.50 if you pay by cash! – the queue to squat instead of pay would surely stretch for kilometres.

People could hire themselves out as professional squatters, offering to undercut the normal ticket barriers. If they’re doing one 30-second squat sessions every minute, that’s 30 tickets – worth as much as £17.10 – per hour, almost triple minimum wage. There’s already a well-established precedent for people who offer to stand in line for money, after all.

Or, maybe a solution for the travel company – worried about losing paying customers – is to outsource the squat machine. Travellers would have to wake up in the morning and head into the living room, where their Xbox One would watch them with its Kinect camera as they perform the requisite exercise regime to top up their travelcard for the day.

It would be wonderfully efficient, and not at all dystopian.

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