Back when you first joined ZUM, what made you decide you wanted or needed to join a gym?
I grew up in Moscow, Russia, and had always been a pretty active kid playing a lot of soccer. When I moved to the States when I was about 14, life was hard, and I didn’t have the same luxury of time to be active. I was working a lot and going to school. I tried to play soccer while at Roosevelt High School, but I just didn’t have time.
In college, it was more of the same, if not worse. I was getting my electrical engineering degree from UW and living a very unhealthy lifestyle. When I was 19 I decided to try to get back in shape and joined ZUM. I had some success with the help of my trainer (Tony Francis) over the summer, but I fell off the wagon when school started up again. I was working really hard, studying a lot, spending hours in the lab, working on projects until early hours of the morning and then eating pizza – not making healthy choices. Even though I had a ZUM membership, I wasn’t using it regularly. I’d go once a month or so and not really do anything.
By the end of college, I was 200 pounds, about 35 pounds heavier than healthy for me. It was hard for me to do anything physical. I remember attempting the monkey bars at a park, and I was so weak, I could barely do make it 2 bars – a far cry from the 5 times down and back I used to be able to do as a kid.
It was really difficult to get back into physical activity having lost so much strength and flexibility, but I knew I had to do something because, I was also starting to experience health issues: high blood pressure and low energy. I didn’t know where to start. Intellectually, I knew what to do, but I didn’t know how to do it, how to move properly, and I felt overwhelmed. I started taking Hardcore with Joe (around 2009). That was really my “in” to getting moving again, giving me the guidance and knowledge I needed to feel successful and begin to make progress.
I discovered how deconditioned I was and how hard every movement felt (I couldn’t even do a squat properly!), so I decided to work one on one with Joe retrain my body to move. He really helped me break down movements. It would take me about a month to learn proper from before I could actually progress a movement. I’m so glad I was patient thought. I built a really solid foundation and learned to love working out again. I can’t live without working out now. It’s a tragedy if I go a week without going to ZUM!
Since joining ZUM, what results have you achieved?
My first goal was developing endurance, which I was able to achieve through classes. However, one of my biggest accomplishments has been the increased flexibility I’ve developed that has allowed me to get in to Olympic lifting. It’s been interesting to experience the practical, day t- day implications of increased flexibility too. For example, I was just in Hawaii and I felt much more comfortable swimming in ocean against the waves. It was a surprising, but cool to feel the difference with the increased flexibility in my back. Also, my posture has improved. I’ve built strength in my core and back to feel comfortable sitting longer and maintaining good posture. I never thought that would happen for me, as someone who sits in front of a computer all day long.
What do you like best about ZUM?
The environment. The trainers. The classes.
What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking about joining?
Go to classes, get a trainer, and stick to it. I’ve been there. It’s really hard to get started. That’s actually the one thing I regret – not working with my trainer Bill earlier. It takes a long time to make working out a habit and part of your lifestyle. Motivation is the key for long-term success and working with a trainer really helps you stay motivated. A trainer also helps create a good, safe structure to approach working out, making sure you’re moving properly to decrease risk of injury, and they’ll build programming for you to do outside of your training. The guidance and support is invaluable, and I wish I’d done it sooner. It’s totally worth the money.
What is a fun fact about you we may not know?
Since my early teens I have been obsessed with the probability of extraterrestrial life. Nothing excites me more than hearing about new planets being discovered.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
That’s easy – pizza! I always prefer making my own to, but when I don’t have time to, Delancey and Via Tribunali are my favorites. And dark chocolate!
I do love making my own pizza though – I make my own dough and everything. I like to keep my pizza simple, but I have fun experimenting with different toppings and bases.
What’s your favorite TV show?
X Files is my all-time favorite, but I love Game of Thrones right now too.
What’s your favorite music to listen to?
So many! My tastes really vary. Everything from Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky (Joe knows about this) to Metallica and from Keiko Matsui to Dj Sash and Hardwell and Eminem to complete the circle.
For working out, I prefer to listen to upbeat electronic music as it keeps me energized and focused.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your ZUM experience?
I love the multitude of different things you can do at ZUM. Before I got into Olympic lifting, I had no idea you could work with a trainer on those movements at ZUM. There are so many different trainers with different areas of expertise who can help you work on just about anything! That’s the really special thing about ZUM – really talented, knowledgeable trainers with a deep understanding of the body mechanics and physiology. I’ve been a member of other gyms, and the trainers at ZUM are just on a whole other level.