by Timur  

"Cпортзал" is made up of two words, спорт (sport) and зал (hall). It is used to describe various fitness clubs and gyms. Lately more and more Russians have begun to use the English terms but спортзал remains the most dominant. Here are a few examples for this two-part word:

Я хочу открыть свой спортзал. I want to open my fitness club.
Школьный спортзал хорошо выглядит. The school gym looks good.
Я перестал ходить в спортзал. I stopped going to the gym.

Finding an affordable "спортзал" has become a bit easier for Russians, or at least for Muscovites, than before.

A few years ago it came to me that I should visit a “спортзал” once in a while to stay active, or at least try to, so I got a membership at a decent Arizona gym that had all the basic equipment and a pool for a good $30 a month. When I went to Moscow for the summer I decided to sign up at a “спортзал” there too, just in case I’d continue with this new healthy habit of mine. But as I soon realized… this goal was too naive.

Unlike in the States, fitness clubs are fairly new to Russia and began to emerge only in the late nineties. Sure, every school had a gym and physical education was important but those gyms were different, nothing like 24 Hour Fitness, and for students only, unless you knew the security guard or the principal. As a result, parks and swimming pools tend to be the most popular spots for healthy Russians. But parks and crowded pools were not on my list; I was already spoiled by my American “спортзал.” So I searched out a couple fitness clubs not too far from my apartment and went down to check them out.

The first one was your typical gym—weights, treadmills, yoga, aerobics. A manager with a joyous smile gave me a tour around the place, describing everything in detail, except for the rates, and convincing me to sign up. To me it was an average gym, just what I hoped for, nothing special. When I finally got the rates sheet and glimpsed at it, I was first bumped by slight confusion and then hit hard by sudden alarm. The cheapest plan with which you could visit the gym only four days a week was $500 a month, after a membership fee of $4000. Certainly wasn’t prepared for this. I looked at the manager, her smile faded, made the usual excuse about needing more time to think the decision over and quickly left.

The other place was not any prettier—$50 a day. This made me lose my gym motivation for the summer and suddenly going to the park didn’t sound all that bad.


Comment from: Timur [Member]

The gym was an equivalent of a 24 Hour Fitness, nothing too special, that’s why the price amazed me. Today it’s still not easy to find something decent in the city of Moscow for under a $100 a month, plus the membership fee and a bunch of rules.

09/05/09 @ 15:01
Comment from: Alex [Visitor]

$500 a month? Are you kidding me?! Maybe you were at a VIP club.

09/05/09 @ 01:52

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