The facilities at Fitness Life in Kyiv. Picture from fitnesslife.ua

Russian MiniLessons: Introduction to Gyms in Eurasia

Published: January 5, 2020

The тренажерный зал in Russia can also be called, colloquially, “качалка.” “Качалка” is derived from the Russian verb “качать”.  However, “качать” can also mean “to pump” or “to exercise” – as in “качать мускулы. Gyms are becoming more and more popular among Russians. Moscow has plenty of gyms at different prices, but other big cities, such as Yekaterinburg, still lack gyms с приемлемыми ценами as the market is still developing.

As a visiting foreigner, if you decide to записаться в тренажерный зал, it would be wise to ask, “Есть абонементы на месяц/на одно занятие?“. Some gyms only have годовой абонемент, and thus might be “overkill” for someone looking for a one-semester commitment.

Some gyms have a large минимальная оплата (for example, of 32,000 rubles – or about $1,000 for six months) but don’t charge monthly fees. The minimum charge then might cover access to some facilities like бассейн с детской зоной, турецкая баня, финская сауна, зал боевых искусств, студия йоги и пилатеса, and зал групповых программ.

Smaller gyms, especially those located in спальный район, are often more affordable. These might offer месячный абонемент for about 3000 rubles. However, they are less likely to have бассейн or сауна, and additional services are more limited, although, for example, finding a персональная тренировка and сплит-тренировка is generally possible at such facilities at extra cost (often about $20-30 per session).

A newcomer should ask, “У вас есть скидки/Вы предлагаете скидки?“. Many gyms do not have any, and if скидки предоставляются, they are quite small. Some discounts that do occur include: студенческая/школьная; городская; пенсионная; семейная; some gyms might even offer поздравительная which might be good for одно посещение on your birthday. Some gyms offer discounts for attending в дневное время – when most people are in offices rather than at the gym. In Russia, скидки в дневное время are more widely practiced in swimming pools than in gyms.

A newcomer may ask gym employees, “За какие групповые занятия нужно платить отдельно?“, since some group workout sessions are платные групповые занятия, не входящие в стоимость абонемента. Such extra sessions can include эстрадные танцы, бокс, йога,  кардио классы, and групповые аква-программы.

Человек, который записывается в тренажерный зал, might want to ask about personal trainers. “Сколько стоит занятие с тренером?” or «Какие есть тренера и какой у них опыт работы и специализация?». Some trainers are quite qualified, they can be КМС – кандидат в мастера спорта or призеры соревнований, and have большой профессиональный спортивный стаж.

Another good question to ask is: “Какие часы работы спортзала?“. Most gyms operate from early morning till evening, and close at night.

There are two types of fitness equipment: кардиотренажеры, such as беговые дорожки, велотренажеры, эллиптические тренажеры or орбитрек, степперы, and гребные тренажеры; and силовые тренажеры, such as гантели литые and разборные гантели. When поднимать тяжести, kilograms are used, so a Westerner should be able to convert the weight from kilos to pounds by multiplying the kilos by 2.2.

Sport was highly valued in the USSR and many Russians take sport and physical fitness very seriously. Many of the old training halls are very Spartan, but still in use and some are now some of Russia’s most affordable work out facilities. However, the market is growing and maturing now and new, commercial facilities are constantly opening to serve a range of needs and price markets.

About the author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov has reported on political and social issues for the Russian press as well as American outlets such as Russian Life, Worldpress.org, and Triangle Free Press. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the "real Russia" which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and went on to study TESOL and teach Russian at West Virginia University. He is currently working on an PhD from West Virginia University in Political Science. Andrei contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS site, and is an overall linguistics and research resource.

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Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad Programs

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