Prison gymnastics: Leninist style

Among the most interesting of all Lenin’s writings are the letters to his mother and sisters (vol 37 of the Collected Works). He turns out to have loved long walks, swimming (even in Siberia), shooting, and gymnastics … at least when he was in prison:

I can at least say from my own experience that every day, with great pleasure and profit I did my gymnastics before going to bed. You loosen up so well at times that it makes you warm even in the worst cold, when the cell is like an ice-well, and after it you sleep better, I can recommend to him [Dmitry, Lenin’s brother] an exercise that is very convenient (even if funny) — bow to the ground 50 times. I set myself that stint and was not embarrassed when the warder watched me through the peephole and was amazed that a prisoner who had never expressed a desire to attend the prison church should suddenly have become so pious! He must bow not less than fifty times without bending his legs and must touch the floor with his fingers each time (Collected Works, vol. 37, pp, 150-1).

– The secret to a communist hard man.


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