Pumping Iron in Baku

by Thomas

My man Javid, lifter of weights.

It might be possible to live in the former Soviet Union without regular exercise, but I’ve never figured out a way to do it. The trick to not paying through the nose for a gym membership in Baku is to visit the neighborhood gyms that most foreigners are scared to enter.

My gym costs me two Manat (about 2.50 USD) per visit. It’s a large basement room with 30-year-old Soviet exercise equipment and juiced-up Azeri bodybuilders. The music is incredible: old-school rap, R&B, and the house favorite: a 20-minute Michael Jackson medley that is truly epic. Last month they discovered Eye of the Tiger and it played for weeks on endless repeat. Proof positive that there is something in the DNA of that song, irrespective of lyrics, that amps us up.

State of the Caspian: calm, silver waters.