Russian Fitness Goes Old-School with Stalin-Era Regime

Russia has had a busy year, and they aren’t about to stop now. Putin just announced the revival of a Soviet fitness regime known as “Ready for Labor and Defense” (Russian acronym: GTO).

Citing Russia’s strong performance in the Olympics and Paralympics—this for a place which refused to host the 1980 Paralympics in 1980 because “[t]here are no invalids in the USSR!—Putin wants to "pay homage” to “national historical traditions” as the country once again becomes a leader in global sports.

The original fitness regimen, which lasted from the 1930s until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, involved competitive swimming, running, skiing and that fourth tier of every legitimate sports program: grenade-throwing! Fitting, since it was originally intended to create a robust citizenry prepared to fight for the USSR—or at least increase “their aptitude for high labor efficiency” according to the official statement of the original program. Those Soviets and their sexy PR campaigns!

Officials are still hammering out the details for the new GTO, but aspiring participants have just until September to whip themselves into shape for the sports competitions, divided into 11 different age groups. The government also promises to hold an annual report on the progress of the program for the President—whoever that might be in the future. Just kidding—it will always be Putin!

So, is Putin taking a cue from Michelle Obama and doing a “Let’s Move!” campaign, Soviet-style? Or is he trying to whip Russians into lean mean fighting machines in anticipation of more aggressive behavior down the line?

Vee vill haf to vait ant zee!


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