How did you get into fitness ?
When I was kid, then a teenager, the first person who really inspired me was my father. He was very successful in sports in the former Soviet Union. He was a wrestler, and always got 1st or 2nd place in competition — never less. While I grew, I watched his strong personality and success. He always got what he wanted, and people around him loved him and admired him. That image really parked itself in my memory forever!!! He passed away very young, when he was just 36 years old. At that time, I was 14, and I said to myself — no matter what — I will be like him at his best, and I will do everything I can to make him proud of me. Even if he’s not close, I always imagine he watches me somehow, and he is really happy for his daughter. This was always in my thoughts when I was younger, and this is the image I carry every day in my life. His smile.
Since those early days, I was always in sport. First gymnastics, from 6 until 10 years old, horse back riding ,ballroom dancing. Additionally, I was involved in equestrian sports.
While I was growing up at that time, back home in rural Russia and Moldova, there were NO women in “real” gyms. None! And yet it was my dream to hit the gym and touch the iron. So, as soon as I was 16 years old, I went to a gym right away. My boyfriend at the time brought me there. I remember that time…I was so happy, and one of my dreams in life came true! At the same time, I participated in aerobics classes. This was increasing to great popularity at that time. I was thinking of becoming an aerobics class teacher in the near future. But I am getting ahead of myself! I started going to the gym, I was really new to this, and had no clue what to do, and I was watching guys train (as, again, there were no women at that time in gyms where I was), trying to learn everything I could from watching anybody who looked like they knew something. I learned everything by myself by watching, trying, and making my own mistakes — which brought me some injuries! — but I think the best learning experience is obtained when you learn by doing at your own pace, and figure out what works best for you and your body. I would do things I saw guys at the gym do, and stick to what worked for me. I would watch fitness people on TV when I could, and also incorporate their ideas into my training when they worked. I also watched people training at the gym and training on TV just because they inspired me! These were rugged individualists! They started out like me, watching others, trying things, varying things seen, and making routines that worked for them. So they were like me, only further down the path.
Time moves, things evolve, and after a few years, I became a “fitness instructor,” as my task was called at that time years ago.
I started to teach aerobics classes, and at the same time hitting the gym non-stop for my own training. Then, one of the gym owners saw me there, with my training intensity and know-how, and my ability to conduct classes for aerobics routines, and one day invited me to work for the gym as a personal trainer. I was blessed! At that time, I didn’t even realize how I looked, and that people looked at me as a professional athlete and professional coach. I wasn’t sure I could really handle being one-on-one with anyone, and inspire someone to listen to me and follow me as an authority on training. I didn’t realize I already did that by teaching aerobics classes, and developed a huge knowledge base about training from all of my study and experience. People followed me like crazy and jumped into my classes with happy smiles, telling me that I inspired them to perform better and to look better, and that they admired me because of my look. They told me how I was inspirational to them, and how my routines and diet tips and encouragement helped them. So I finished the course for personal training and…here we go…one of my biggest dreams, which I couldn’t even imagine would happen for me came true! It is just like I have always been saying — sometimes we don’t realize what we are accomplishing and where we are, until suddenly we find we are no longer mere students, but teachers! The goals are attained, and the responsibilities that follow the achievements grow. Constant effort, plus constant positive visualization, really works for sure! If you really want something, you dream about it every single day and you follow your dream, and one day it will come true for sure! You can’t even “expect” it; you just think, and do, and it just will happen.
Immigration as part of my journey..
My mom decided to move from Moldova to Canada, and I followed her after a few years when I was 23 years old in 2005. That was really hard for me, to lose everything and start from zero! I had a career and reputation back home, and then to go to Canada with no credentials, with no knowledge of English, I found it seemed to be impossible for me to start a new life. My relationship with fitness at this time was difficult because I had to make a living, and with no English, I couldn’t work as a trainer at a gym. I had no way to do the one thing I was good at, and enjoyed! I was working at so many different places completely opposite to that, but was trying to keep myself in shape, trying to hit the gym every single day. At that time, going to the gym was the only good thing for me, the only thing that lifted my mood, while I was trying to find a balance in life. Learning English at over 20 years of age was really difficult. I had no chance to go to a university to make myself more marketable in Canada, or even take an English class, because I was working at 2 jobs trying to make more money. My mom couldn’t help me due to her own financial situation. But every day, when it was hard, I kept my number one person in my mind — my father — remembering how he never gave up and always was positive and smiling. Thinking about that keeps me strong and I just keep moving forward, step by step, learning English on my own, starting to meet new people and getting a chance to spend more time in the gym when I could.
Mistakes as part of my journey ..we live and learning every day ..
Were you ever overweight?
When I grew up, I realized I could very easily gain weight, but when we are teenagers we don’t think too much about it. In school, I was always chubby but never overweight; then as a teenager, I spent all my time being active, but of course watching my meals, never eating fast food, junk food — I was totally not into that — but my problem was, since I remembered myself as overeating, and mostly sweets, I was (and am) crazy for any kinds of cakes, chocolate, and desserts. And of course, as many people, if I eat something good I can’t stop myself till I am full. This was OK for me while I was young and I worked from 8am till 11pm every day as a personal trainer and fitness instructor, but when I moved to Canada, my life completely changed — that is, my life changed, but not my eating habits. When I emigrated to Canada, I mentioned that my body changed as I was not able to train like I trained back home (sometimes I had 20 hours of aerobics per week) where I was booked each day for personal trainings from morning till night. In Toronto, since I hit the gym only once per day, just one hour, after 6 months the scales jump up from 118 to 126, and this was my first inspiration to start totally controlling what I ate.
Again, it wasn’t easy as I definitely am one of those people who is a food lover! Yes, I am! So there was only one way for me to keep up my body, and that was to be as highly active as I can, and then to treat myself at least every morning with some dessert (but it wasnt only mornings)!
In 2009, I became pregnant, and as this was a completely new situation (and condition, if I can say so) for me, my weight at that time was about 125 pounds. For a 27 year old woman, I was in great shape and it was a perfect weight, and I thought nothing would change. For the first 4 months, I didn’t even feel like I was pregnant! I swear I had a 6 pack until my 4th month of pregnancy! And I kept hitting the gym with the same schedule and plan, working out 4-5 times per week, plus as a second daily workout twice per week where I did spinning as my cardio, and then two aerobics classes almost every day twice per day. I kept eating as I used to eat, and I didn’t even pay attention to my portions getting bigger with the numbers of days of my pregnancy. Then… After 5 months of being pregnant, my stomach was so huge I just tried to remember when this happened, as it seemed like just yesterday that I saw my six pack!
So I guess troubles start from the half-way point of my pregnancy when the hormones started to change my mind and mood and affect in any different way. That is nothing new for all women who already had children, but for those who still can be called “future moms,” I can tell you it was such a crazy time. I was totally losing my mind and I was hungry all the time! Mornings, day time and especially nights, my mouth never closed! I ate non-stop, but I couldn’t control it. Well, now I think I was able, but at that time I kept telling myself, “I am going to lose everything as soon as I give birth, and magically become the same Ella,” and all my friends and family told me the same. “Don’t worry, you’re going to lose everything after pregnancy.” That was the best excuse for me, since then I stopped thinking about it. I ate at one meal like I was 5 people! For example, I would eat any big chocolate cake, all at once, about 2 pounds; then 200-300 grams of chicken with the same amount of pasta; then after a few hours again, I would have a million candies and huge meal of meat and carbs.
At the time I was close to giving birth, my weight was 220 pounds! I gained almost double of my normal weight! And I gained all that weight even though I was in the gym training every day through the first 8 months of my pregnancy. I didn’t make any changes anymore, because the amount of food was just unbelievably crazy.
After I gave birth…nothing changed! Right after my little newborn son was sleeping in the room at the hospital, I found a scale in the lobby and stepped on it. I was so disappointed when I saw the number; it was 226! Even more then it was before! I was shocked! I wanted to mention that I started to hate myself those last few months when I couldn’t walk even half a mile. And, as after 8 months of pregnancy you can’t even go to gym, in my case I stopped going there only because I was so much overweight, and I delivered my son 3 weeks later then I was supposed to. I was so depressed. I remember this feeling like it was yesterday. Maybe for a regular person who never participated in sports and was totally not into fitness it’s different, but for me it was like the end of the world. I was that person who was always active all my life, and who loved her body and was so secure about it, who inspired people to make them work hard and always, always was perfect.
That was me. Then I saw that 226 pounds mass in the mirror. That person in the mirror was me: fat and ridiculously out of shape! I departed from the hospital with the doctor’s words in my head. He told me, because I got C-section, that I could not workout for about 6 weeks. I just smiled. I was silent because I already made a decision that I was going to hit the gym the very next week after my hospital discharge. At that time, when I woke up every morning, I hated to look in the mirror. I tried to not look, but when I did, I kept telling myself “I hate this person,” “I am going to change myself,” “I am going to fix this,” “I am going to look even better than before, because I love myself enough to do so!”
All my transformation I was my own coach!
Chasing my dreams no matter what…
My Dream became reality when I step on stage in October 13th 2012 , during summer 2012 I met some friends who introduced me with WBFF organization and without thinking long I stepped on stage as I was competition ready
From the first time stepping on stage I won 1st place and earned my WBFF Pro status, since October 2012 I became wbff pro and was represent WBFF till spring 2015th
this year spring 2015 I made decision to switch organisation from WBFF to IFBB ,now I can say it was my the best decision in my short but yet full of experience competitor life!
Proud to say I WON all 3 competition from the first time ever competing with OPA and CBBF here in Canada and in july 18th 2015th I became IFBB PRO