Hi people, we are back with another weekly Athlete Feature! Meet Yana - the first female athlete we've spotlighted so far. From an international bodybuilding champion to a happy, confident intuitive eater and online coach, Yana has a pretty diverse and inspiring journey to share, so without further ado check out her story below!
When did you get into it?
I got into bodybuilding 8 years ago. I grew up dancing on quite high level, and when I moved to The Netherlands I couldn't do this anymore, so I had to find an alternative sport.
This is how I started going to the gym, learnt more about how you can shape your body to look a certain way. Later I started competing in bodybuilding competitions in the bikini fitness category. For me this sport was mostly about the aesthetics back then.
At some point it became less challenging and I needed a breath of fresh air, so I switched to a more functional type of training and this is how I discovered calisthenics. I've been doing bodyweight training for about 2 years now with the occasional heavy weighted leg day.
What motivated you to start? Is there anyone you look up to?
When I started going to the gym I was desperately looking for that post workout "high". When I stopped dancing, I realised how much I missed my physical activity, so the reason I started training with weights was to feel strong and healthy again.
Later, when I discovered calisthenics, I was motivated by those superhuman men and women who could do crazy things with their bodies in the air, and to me it looked so cool to have such full control over your body. So I wanted to learn how to do this too.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Sometimes it's hard to combine a full time job, own business, and private life with doing 4-5 workouts every week, but I still make those workouts a priority. Doing sports is one of my absolute non-negotiables, I know that if I don't I wouldn't perform well in the other areas of my life. But it's not easy to fit it all in a busy schedule.
Did you have to make any sacrifices along the way? What kind?
Sometimes I have to make choices, like do I want to go do fun stuff on a Friday evening to relax, or do I go workout first. I wouldn't call it "sacrifices", but sometimes I need to make choices about how I want to spend my day and my energy. There needs to be a balance between my physical and my emotional needs, otherwise I don't feel good and I can't perform at my best.
How do you find fulfilment and what keeps you going?
The way I feel when I'm physically active is indescribable. I feel so vital and I am generally more optimistic in life. Sport has become an inseparable part of my identity, and doing it gives me fulfilment.
And what keeps me going? My own success is my biggest motivation to keep moving forward towards new goals. If I feel great on the inside, I can do anything. And sport is an essential way to get this feeling.
What are your goals?
Oh this is a long one! Haha. I have many personal and professional goals.
In short, business-wise I want to build a world-known brand which helps women go from dieting, restricting calories and being unhappy with their bodies, to becoming fit and confident intuitive eaters, so that they stop dieting forever and reach their dream bodies without hunger and without restricting food.
Sport-wise my goal is to unlock the full human flag, muscle up, and other super cool calisthenics skills. And I want to become faster and more explosive.
Any current projects you'd like to share?
Right now I am working on my business as an online female coach, and I have developed a method to help women who are tired of dieting, counting macros and restricting food and who want to be able to eat everything they want but without gaining weight.
With my Feed Your Dream Body method I teach them how to eat intuitively, how to enjoy food without guilt, how to reach their best shape and keep it forever.
What tips would you give someone who is just starting in your field?
I would say don't be afraid to be yourself and to say what you stand for. Also the beginning, especially on social media, can be very discouraging (low reach, low numbers, low engagement), go past your ego and don't stop! Things will get better if there is consistency. This is something I often had (and still have) to repeat to myself as well, and it works :)
What tools have helped you along the way?
I use apps to track my entire life basically! I like data because it gives you so much insight into things you can control and tweak in order to optimise your performance/improve how you feel.
Fitbit (steps, sleep, heart rate), Sleep Cycle (gentle alarm & natural waking up), Daysy (female fertility tracker), training apps to log my workouts. To grow my business I mostly use Instagram and YouTube.
And useful resources?
One of my absolute favourite books is "Never Split The Difference" by Chris Voss. I have always been fascinated by human behaviour and how you can influence that with different tactics. Furthermore, I like podcasts about building an online audience, social media, spirituality as well (those are mostly in Dutch and not super famous).
Where can we find you on the internet/social media?
Shop Yana's Gear (177cm/78kg, wearing size S).