By: Joe Cardoso
Summer is more than halfway done and as people squeeze in those last second vacations those summer fitness goals are still possible. Our spotlight on fitness this month takes us back to the west coast and we found an awesome athlete with a very good story which is far from over. We all have or had dreams of making the Olympics and winning the gold for USA. For most young women it’s winning gymnastics gold and none of us have any idea the amount of work and pain that goes into even getting a shot to try out. She used a serious injury and her love for gymnastics to begin a whole new journey. A former gymnast and resident of San Diego, California introducing Tatiana Koval.
Joe Cardoso: You were in gymnastics. What did that experience teach you?
Tatiana Koval: Competing in gymnastics taught me so much both physically and mentally. It had a huge impact in teaching me about perseverance, hard work, and that you get out what you put in. When we watch professional athletes, especially gymnasts on TV everything looks so beautiful and effortless, I feel like the majority of people see it and think “wow! she’s so talented, I wish I could do that.” But never do they think about what that woman went through as a little girl to get there. Gymnastics is a full-time job. Skills are sometimes done over a one hundred times a day! And for a child spending a summer continuously wiping out in a gym, can sometimes become frustrating when you know all your friends from school are hanging out at the pool. But, you know you wouldn’t have it any other way because you love the sport so much! And that first time you FINALLY get a skill after wipe out after wipe out, there’s no better feeling. So those summers and seasons I spent in a gym, were preparing me for much more than a competition.
JC: Injuring your back at such a young age and it not being a little injury, what did that teach you about yourself? And do you think it helped set you on this career path?
TK: Fracturing my back was an extremely scary and disappointing experience. It taught me that you can never be too sure of anything, and that you have to be very fluid and learn to adapt when nothing goes as planned. It had a huge impact on my career path as well. After my injury and trying to recuperate with it, I was introduced to so much about the muscular and skeletal system that I found to be incredibly interesting. This led to me majoring in Kinesiology pre-physical therapy in college. What I learned in this major I use every day as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, group exercise instructor, and yoga teacher.
JC: What is a normal week like for you including workouts?
TK: Since I spend so much time in a gym and teaching 90-degree classes my calories burned per day are always high. Because of that I try to not overdue it while working out on my own time. My workouts are always complex and challenging, but I try to just train each body region once a week to insure I’m working out for health purposes not for competitive purposes if that makes sense. There was a period where I was lifting extremely heavy and working out six days a week on my own and teaching 16 classes a week and training clients. I had to step back and ask myself why I was doing it? Why was hip thrusting 400 pounds every Monday? For what? Since then I only workout 4 days on my own and incorporate a lot of more bodyweight exercises, functional training, and yoga and it’s really been beneficial thus far.
JC: With the background you have was moving into yoga easy? Why or why not?
KT: The asana, or physical practice of yoga was easier for me transition into than some I would say, because I still have a lot of leftover strength and flexibility from my gymnast days. Certain poses that took some instructors years to achieve, I would be able to just kind of watch them do, then dissect it in my head, then go up and do the exact same thing without even knowing the name of what I was doing. But! As time went on I learned there is so much more to yoga than the tricky poses. There is so much thoughts that are brought to the forefront of your mind during a practice, there is emotion, spirituality, and so much more, all I learned during my training to be a yoga teacher was that I really know nothing at all! It’s a continuous learning process, and that’s one of my favorite things about it.
JC: What led you to wanting to be a trainer?
KT: I feel like me becoming has been rooted into my life path all along. I started coaching gymnastics at 15 and a half, and before then I used to “coach” my friends at recess on the playground. Ultimately, I’ve just always been drawn to helping people learn new things and become excited about life and excited about themselves. Even as adults, when someone feels good, when they learn something new, when they regain confidence they get a childlike excitement even if just for a minute. I love that!!
JC: Nutrition is something you are very passionate about. What is your stance on it?
KT: I believe proper nutrition is key to a happy, long, healthy life. Our bodies work so hard for us every day! We need to take the time to repay them which we can do through nutrient dense foods, lean proteins, and proper hydration.
JC: What role has family and friends played in the journey?
KT: My family and friends are my support system. They are the constant driving force behind me. My goal is not just for myself, they are for us all.
JC: How do you approach social media with all the good AND bad it can provide?
KT: Social media is SUCH a tricky slope nowadays. I feel like so much good and bad comes from it. Its amazing how social media allows to connect with and network with people you probably never would have ever met. On my social media I don’t even have a huge following, but I have received messages from people about me being their motivation and inspiration and that they have learned so much from my page. That’s seriously amazing! But, social media right now also has a way of making people feel like they aren’t enough. The new trend in the way it’s making people want to showcase their lives often makes people, especially young people compare themselves to “popular people” which often aren’t even showcasing their actual reality. Photoshop is everywhere, Range rovers are everywhere, implants, extensions, and lip injections are everywhere. I’m not saying that any of these things are bad, but I am saying it makes young people, girls especially feel unworthy, but they don’t realize what they see isn’t on social media isn’t your everyday encounter. The huge increase in sexual based photos and profiles I also think can be damaging, especially in fitness, it takes away from real training and learning and working out for your health, and instead shifts people’s perspective into working out to get online attention. Ultimately, I think you just need to stay true to yourself and your brand and think about what type of attention you want and the types of people you to attract as well how you want to make people feel. My best social media advice is to stick to your truth, and do what feels best to you, not to do something that makes you uncomfortable in the hopes to grow your following.
JC: Who are the people inside or outside the industry that inspire you?
KT: Honestly, I’m such a weirdo when it comes to people, I find inspiration in so many different avenues from people with no relation to me at all. I think I should preface these people with the fact that I LOVE rock n’ roll, fitness, spiritual people, those that think and act outside of the box, and those that care about others, that being said some of my most inspirational people are; BONO (yes from U2 lolol), Anthony keidis, elon musk, The Rock, and Orpah winfrey have to be some of top for me! Social media fitness wise, I really love @fitgurlmel, @jessicaarevalo, and @yogi_goddess.
JC: What do you have planned for the rest of 2018?
KT: In some aspects what I have planned for the rest of 2018 is what I have planned for the rest of my life!! I plan to travel, explore, and adventure! I plan to meet new people, to make connections and to grow! And I plan to learn more and expand in my career.
JC: Being a Cali girl which one do you choose and why, A day at the beach or a hike?
KT: Such a hard question! Being outdoors is my favorite activity! and I’m obsessed with both of those options, but I think I gotta say hike! As long as it’s not a basic one, I just love that a hike is an adventure. I love getting my heartrate up, and not knowing what I might see around the bend. Conversations come up so easily when your trekking out or camping with other individuals. and i feel on a hike you begin to feel so small, your problems your conflicts, everything feels so irrelevant. You remember there’s a great big world out there and then are able to feel at peace. Mother nature is the real MVP!
JC: If someone asked who is Tatiana Koval they would say________?
KT: People would probably describe me as athletic, crazy, fun, and a great friend.
JC: What do you do for fun?
KT: I could honestly have fun in a shoebox. especially with the right people present. But some of my favorite activities are exploring, traveling, working out, yoga, acrobatics, adventuring, going to the beach, music festivals, movie watching, cooking, and eating.
As Tatiana said the fitness world is growing FAST but so are the fakes who want to make a quick buck. Tatiana is one of the real ones and it was cool to hear her strory and get a chance to share it. Make sure you follow her on Instagram for the latest and of course stick with Nuts And Bolts Sports as we bring you more exciting and fun Q&A’s. Who will the spotlight shine on next?
Instagram: Tatiana Koval: https://www.instagram.com/lotsoftotss/