In Shape for summer

Among the New Year’s resolution that we make, one of the most common is a promise to ourselves to lose weight! It is often after the holiday festivities [праздники (prazdniki)] that our sports club membership [абонемент (abanimiyent) в спортзал (spartzal)] suddenly comes to mind and off we go to rummage in our drawer, fishing out our sportswear, neatly tucked away in one corner, while our gym bag [спорти́вная су́мка (spartivnaya soomka)] silently waits for us in another. CREF, in similar fashion, seeks to bring you back onto the right track [здоро́вый о́браз жи́зни (zdarovy obraz jizni)] in terms of learning the Russian language during this New Year.

It’s worth pointing out that sports clubs are not the only place where one can get some exercise [занима́ться спо́ртом (zanimatsa sportom)]. Experts have long been of the opinion that a regime of fifteen minutes daily [пятна́дцать мину́т в день] of exercise [заря́дка (zariadka)] is sufficient to stay fit [чу́вствовать себя́ в фо́рме (choovstvavat sibia v formay)]. Don’t forget to warm up [размина́ться (razminatsa)] beforehand so that you don’t pull a muscle [потяну́ть мы́шцу (patyanoot miyshtsou)]!

Before leaving for the gym, it’s important to be appropriately equipped: toiletries [банные вещи (bannyié viyeshshiy)], so as to shower before and after your workout; slippers [шлёпанцы (shlyopantsy)], so as to avoid fungal infection [грибок (griboak)]; a jersey [майка (mayika)]; shorts [шорты (shorty)] or sports trousers [спортивные штаны (spartivniye shtannee)]; a change of underwear [сменное бельë (smiyénnoyé bilyo)] and, finally, your membership card [абонентская карта (abanentskaya karta)].

Some prefer the swimming pool [бассе́йн (basséyin)] to weight training. A common question asked of those who can swim – [пла́вание (plavanyé)]: how many laps can you swim [ско́лько проплыва́ете (skolka praplivayitiyé)]? If you feel too embarrassed to respond to such a question, remember that should you persevere, you will only get better. In fact, swimming is a sport where progress can be felt almost immediately. For an initial visit, don’t forget to bring along a medical certificate [медици́нская спра́вка (méditsinskaya spravka)]; this is generally required for use of the pool.

Perhaps you’d like to do a bit of cross-country skiing [лы́жи (liydzhiy)] at Sokolniki Park, or some skating [коньки́ (kannki)] at Gorki Park? It’s all about practice, practice and more practice. In any case, the gym has become a sanctuary of sorts for the modern Russian individual.

Included in your sports club subscription are, most likely, free one-on-one workout sessions [беспла́тные индивидуа́льные трениро́вки (biesplatniyé individoowalniyé trénirovki)] with a personal trainer [тре́нер (tréneur)]. Whatever it takes to get you back on track! In fact, it’s not important to do everything quickly [бы́стро (bystro)], rather one needs to do everything correctly [пра́вильно (pravilneu)]: you need to focus on good posture [положе́ния (palajénia)] in order to avoid injuries and unproductive results. Good personal trainers will advise you to avoid straining yourself; in Russian, the expression is roughly translated as “don’t exceed your pain (threshold)” [не чере́з боль (niye chérez bowl)].

In addition to cardio equipment [ка́рдио обору́дование (kardia abaroudavanié)] and that reserved for bodybuilding [бодиби́лдинг or силов́ая трениро́вка (silavaya trénirovka)], sports clubs also generally organize programs [прово́дят заня́тия (pravoadiyat zanyatia)] christened with English terms written in Russian, for example АБС (ABC – abs), степ (step), воркаут (workout), стречинг (stretching), Пилатес (Pilates), йога (yoga). It should be noted that sports centers employ a rather dynamic approach to their programs. It is after all a place to de-stress. Of course, there exist more intensive programs for those who are extremely motivated, possess a strong constitution and are eager to burn some serious calories, e.g. bikram yoga [бикрам йога (bikram yoga)], which is practiced in a room heated to 40 degrees with 40% humidity!

During workout sessions it’s not a bad idea to understand what the instructor is saying in Russian, whether it is ‘arms up’ [руки вверх (rouki vverkh)], or, conversely, ‘down’ [вниз (vniz)]. They say that strong abs [пресс (press)] take the strain off the back. The “normal” position for a workout, although it might not be so for everyone, is to stand upright [стоять прямо (stayat priama)], with feet planted so that they are in line with the shoulders [на ширине плечи (na shiriney pléytchi)] or with the width of the pelvis [на ширине таза (na shiriney taza)], the top of the head [макушка (makoushka)] facing up and one’s tailbone [копчик (koptchik)] pointing down. Good breathing [дыхание (dikhaniyé)] is essential for the workout to be effective, so don’t forget to breathe in [вдох (vdokh)] and breathe out [выдох (vydokh)]. Spine [спина (spina)] flexibility is often developed through stretching exercises [прогиб (prageeb)], unlike other exercises that contribute to spine curvature [сгибать спину (sgibat spinou)]. These postures can all be described using idioms involving animals: to do ‘the cat’ (curved back) [кошка (koshka)] and ‘the cow’ (stretched back) [корова (karova)]. It’s also important to pay special attention to one’s joints [суставы (sustaviy)] when working out, i.e. the knees [колена (kaleyna)], the elbows [локти (lokti)], and the feet, often described thus by their soles [ступни (stoopni)].

There is one small Russian peculiarity to be aware of and that is that people often have no qualms undressing [раздева́ться (razdevatsa)] in front of others in the shower area [душевы́е (dusheveiye)], and that includes the swimming pool. While this practice of collective nudity, observable even in traditional Russian baths [ба́ни (bagni)], has left many a visitor horrified over the centuries, there is nothing perverted about it. In fact, it would be better to look at it from the point of view that a “healthy body houses a healthy soul” [В здоро́вом те́ле здоро́вый дух (v zdarovom tyélay, zdarovy dookh)]!