Lifting weights at the world’s most hardcore winter gym
This gem of a gym alone is worth traveling to Kiev for. It’s also a massive money saver whilst in Kiev as daily/weekly/monthly gym memberships when traveling are always exorbitant. Kiev is certainly no exception to that rule. I know the equipment looks makeshift but every machine works great. There are exercises you can do here I haven’t seen in any of the 60-70 gyms I’ve lifted in around the globe.
People of all ages and both sexes workout here. The majority of people lifting weights in Hidropark I’d say are men in their 50s and up. It’s busiest around midday. I prefer going in the afternoon. If it rains in the morning or looks overcast, you’ll have the place to yourself or be one of only a handful of people there.
Directions: How to get there
The gym is located at Hidropark metro station, a few stops from downtown Kiev. Make your way to Khreschatyk metro station on Khreschatyk Street. The entrance is on the right side of McDonald’s. You’ll see a big green M. This is the centre of touristic Kiev. Buy a metro token for 4 UAH and go down to the trains. Take the train on the right hand side once down from the escalator for three stations. Then turn left once you leave the train at Hidropark station. Walk down the stairs and turn right. Walk past the little shops and over the bridge. You can start following the beautiful sound of clinking iron now.
Few people will come and talk to you unless you approach them first, so fear not if your Ukrainian is a bit rusty. Some locals are quite intrigued once they discover you’re from abroad. Just don’t expect a full-blown conversation in english as most patrons only speak Ukrainian.
What time should you go?
I’ve yet to see the place very busy and you’ll never have to queue up for anything. This gym is truly massive. Dumbbells, barbels, squat racks, bench-presses, ropes, car tyres for boxing, it’s all here.
You could easily train for American ninja here. It’s possible to go both really heavy or very light. You can bench 40kg or 200. You don’t have to be Arnold to come here.
Oh and did I mention it is free? That’s right, just come lift and go home. No questions asked. Lifting weights outside in the fresh cold Ukrainian air feels fantastic and for anyone lamenting the fact that they’ve seen it all, this is the place for you.
The man pictured below is the caretaker, welder, CEO (and what not) of the gym. I’ve seen him repair some of the exercise machines and even weld together some new ones. He’s doing a great job and is there all the time. Some people occasionally give him a tip. I suggest you throw him something as well. He does speak some english and can tell you a little about the gym. From what I gathered it’s been here since the 1970s.