Active and Outdoors: 4 (Winter) Sports to try in Moscow

Post-illness and in search of an outlet for the energy I have gained by working my way through the *Christmas* chocolates my parents brought me (yeah, like they were going to last), I set out this week looking for some ways to stay active even though the snow has started falling again. Naturally I started with Running, but I kept my eyes open for some other options, and here they are. Lets put these in ascending order of ‘not for the faint hearted’…

1) Skating (200-500 Roubles)

Skating is the classical winter sport here, beautiful, social, fairly cheap, and very popular. Although balancing on the fiendishly thin metal rods is a challenge for novices, it is almost a ‘must do’ if you happen to be in the city over winter. You also get the bonus of listening to the Russian taste in ‘pop’ music, which highlights the best and worst of British, American and Russian pop music of the last twenty or thirty years. See my post on skating in Gorky Park.

2) Open-air gym-ming (Free)

One of the peculiarities of Moscow exercise is the abundance of open air, public gyms. I find this particularly strange because of the bad reputation the Russians have for poor health, substantial drinking and other not-so-healthy lifestyle choices. Nonetheless, these gyms can be found in many a place- with varying degrees of welcoming atmospheres. Some are shiny and new, with very fun equipment, others…well… look like this:

Cold, somewhat old, outdoor gym

Apologies for the poor picture, I will attempt to recapture this view ASAP

A ski slope... can be reached by Metro
A ski slope… can be reached by Metro

3) Skiing– and I don’t just mean cross country (Price Unknown)

I have decided that this is more challenging than open air gymming purely on my own inability to cross country ski without plunging face first into the snow (I promise, I’m looking forward to trying again this year). Its also a bit more of a challenge because the facilities are a bit further afield, and I suspect the prices will be steeper. Nonetheless, it’s awesome that within the Ring Roads of Moscow, you can not only cross country ski through the parks (given that there is snow), but also downhill ski! I haven’t lived in any other city where that’s the case!

*correction 08/12/14- My Mam points out that my memory is not serving me well! Apparently this is also possible in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where I did indeed live at one point. In fact,  acting somewhat like a promotional campaign for the city,she writes ‘in Edmonton, there was and is a lovely little ski area right in town called “Snow Valley” – tested and approved fun winter afternoon/evening/weekend skiing in the city (expert testers: your mom and dad) ….and they do have snow and lots of different classes for all levels too!‘*

4) Swimming in the River (Free)

I think this is the most challenging, especially as temperatures are currently hovering around -9 and are only likely to get colder in January and February. Plus you get the bonus crazy points for deciding to swim in the water of the Moscow river, which frankly, is not notorious for its healthy properties. But, this is supposedly a tradition among some Russians, and the temperature change really gets the cardiovascular system going…

Is it me, or does this sign look like 'designated drowning spot'?
Is it me, or does this sign look like ‘designated drowning spot’?

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