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Madonna Opens Gym in Moscow Just as Russia's Masculinity Takes Severe Hit

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International diva Madonna just got a little more internationally diva-tastic.

The Queen of Pop, whose reputation for performing sultry dance hits is matched only by her devotion to the mystical practice of Kabbalah, is opening a gym next year in Moscow that will cater to the city’s elite, Reuters reports.

The gym will be the second of Madonna’s “Hard Candy Fitness” locations, the first of which opened last month in another world-renowned fitness capital, Mexico City. Shockingly (if not a little disgustingly), wealthy Russians sometimes shell out as much as $25,000 a year to join a gym. That’s almost three times more than what an average Russian makes annually.

But Madonna’s decision to open a gym in Moscow proves that she truly has a finger on the erratic pulse of Russian culture.

The country is apparently experiencing something of a fitness renaissance, although that’s not entirely accurate given that a renaissance implies a “rebirth,” and let’s face it, Russia’s basically been an orgy of detrimental lifestyle choices since it was founded in 1894 by Dmitry Stolichnaya.

But in part thanks to Vladimir Putin’s urgings (not to mention his envious physique), Russians have been increasingly frequenting Western-style gyms, and their enthusiasm for health couldn’t have come at a better time. Life expectancy in the country clocks in at 65.5 years. That’s markedly better than what it was just ten years ago, but it’s still worse than the rate in Ukraine. Ukraine!

Not to mention, working out can do wonders for boosting a nation’s battered sense of masculinity, of which Russia’s took a serious hit this past week when 5 year-old Muscovite Dima Sokolov got to name Putin’s new puppy and decided to go with “Buffy.”

According to Reuters, Putin told the boy, “I really liked your suggestion." He then gave the boy a football.

Perhaps a free membership to Hardy Candy would  have been more appropriate.

And now, just for fun, our requisite Putin body shot.

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.