The muscle test

November 15, 2013
(Ben Claassen III/For Express)
(Ben Claassen III/For Express)

As if the introduction of team ice skating wasn’t enough to get people psyched for the Sochi Olympics, Russia has devised another way to hype the winter sportsfest. Moscow subway riders at one station can perform 30 squats in exchange for a free trip. So I had to know: Will Washingtonians sweat for their Metro fare?

On Wednesday morning, I stationed myself at the top of the Dupont Circle North escalators — which are a pretty good glute workout on their own. I taped a sign to my coat that explained the basic rules, and I was ready to dole out five paper farecards loaded with $2.70 each.

The only thing missing: participants. There was the usual parade of phone zombies. A whole bunch of people dashed by with apologies about running late. And a sizable number of folks proved to be all talk and no action.

Finally, I met Julie Brookins. She was conflicted (“I don’t need a free ride,” the 36-year-old Adams Morgan resident said), but eventually caved. “That wasn’t so bad,” she said after her 30 reps. “I don’t exercise enough.”

My next squatter was the opposite. Zilose Lyons, 37, took one look at me and exclaimed, “I do that all of the time.” The Californian immediately got down to business — and earned a thumbs-up from a passing limo driver.

Team USA better watch out for the Germans if they’re anything like Christina Mayr, who stepped up next. The 28-year-old and her mom are visiting from Bavaria, and the duo counted out her squats in Deutsch. (They shouted “dreißig” in unison when she finished.)

I was worried no guys would be up to the task until an older gentleman proved me wrong. But he disappeared without taking his farecard. So instead, I gave it to Fernando Cortes, one of the workmen involved in Metro maintenance. “I’ve been doing squats all morning,” he said.

That left me with one card. And it was destined for Diane Tepfer, who was on her way home from a senior stretch class. She’s recovering from a knee replacement, and as she sank into her first squat, she said her physical therapist would approve of her doing her prescribed exercises.

The next time I see her may well be in the team ice-skating competition in Sochi.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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