Tatarstan bodybuilder wins gold at world championships in Spain —

The athlete from Kazan won two gold medals at once – in women’s physique and in the mixed duet with the athlete from St. Petersburg Usein Salimov

Natalia Bystrova, 11 times absolute bodybuilding champion, gave Realnoe Vremya an exclusive interview immediately on her way from the World Championships in Spain to Kazan. In a conversation with our newspaper, the famous compatriot spoke about the role of bodybuilding in the life of a woman, the specifics of competition with her student, the brightest rivals of Ukraine and “sacrifices” for victory .

“I turned out like no other”

Natalia, when did you choose this sport and why?

I chose this sport a long time ago when I was 17 and tried to discover my talents, to understand what I needed. I was a slender and graceful girl, but not tall. And I wanted to be different from the others. Then I tried dancing and singing. The latter was not my thing. And I found myself when I first went to a gym. It was at college no. 24, in the Kirov district of Kazan.

What did your family think of your choice? Which are your parents? Did you have a sporty family?

My parents were ordinary people, unfortunately they are not alive. My father was a master of the sport in boxing. But my non-athletic mother was very worried about my choice, she considered that it did not make me a woman. I think she suffered because by choosing this sport I turned out not like the others, so it was not accepted to stand out in the crowd. But not only did she worry about me, but she was also very proud of my successes.

Not everyone thinks that bodybuilding is a beautiful sport, especially for women, large muscles, prominent veins are more associated with male athletes. What is the beauty of this sport for you?

You talk about the sport where the athletes, indeed, do not look very aesthetic. It’s female bodybuilding, mostly American athletes. I perform in Women’s Physique, it’s a more feminine category, here fewer muscles are demonstrated than in bodybuilding. And my mission is probably to change people’s attitude towards this area in our sport. I try to prove that a female athlete in bodybuilding can be feminine, elegant, beautiful.

Many female athletes, and such cases are unfortunately also found among Russian athletes, mistakenly understand the development trend of our sport. Some simply don’t see the limits: it’s not about having a lot of muscle, more muscle than an ordinary woman. The proportions, the beautiful muscles, their quality and above all the combination with femininity are important. Although it is clear that everyone has a different attitude towards the sport. Sometimes here in Russia people react inappropriately. But abroad, everything is absolutely different. People respect my work, appreciate me, here I am a star.

“We weren’t taken to the gym for a long time”

How did you join the sport? What did you start with?

I started this sport a long time ago, not alone, with my friend. We had dreamed about it for a long time, and the boys did not take us to the gym because women at that time did not lift weights.

When and where did you get your first world victory? Were you surprised or on the contrary did you have confidence in yourself from the start?

My first big victory was in Crete in 2002. I was already quite a mature athlete. For me it was a total surprise as it was my first trip. When the judges unanimously praised me so highly, to be honest, I was just shocked. And this victory seriously influenced the further development of my sports career: it inspired me with the confidence that I could conform to world standards and moreover, I could set the tone for the development trend of this sport.

“We are like the Ukrainians”

Was it difficult to win this time?

This time the training was very long, even longer than usual, it lasted six months. And all this time was quite tense psychologically: during the pandemic, there is no guarantee that you will obtain a visa and travel abroad. In this competition, there were many opponents, 17 athletes in one category, 27 in the other and 10 pairs among which we finished first.

Have you compared your possibilities with those of others?

I never watch the athletes behind the scenes, I think there is no point. The scene itself will show who is the best. And first I don’t compete with the rivals but me, that’s my key rule is to make sure to win all my weak points and after the result the judge will say that I have nothing to do to reproach. This is crucial in preparing for a competition.

Who are your closest rivals and why?

As experience shows, Ukrainian girls are the most serious and worthy rivals. They are as beautiful as Russians and train with the same dedication as us. We are very much like them.

About health and “sacrifices”

Sport today is not only about training and nutrition but also often medication, vitamins and always overloads. In your opinion, where is the border between sport “for oneself” and sport that requires you to risk your health?

I think this question has a weird thing. There is no sport “for oneself”. This is why athletes, at least me, take advantage of all their possibilities. More importantly, if an athlete puts their health first, they fully understand that there is a specific plan to stick to. The athlete understands that sometimes it is necessary to slow down to take two steps later. If one handles training intelligently, the health risks decrease. It should be understood that not all methods are good for achieving a goal. Nowadays, it is generally necessary to understand that health is the most important thing.

What else do you have to sacrifice? And why are you ready to make sacrifices?

The only thing I have to sacrifice when preparing for competitions is communication with my relatives, my friends. There is little time because there is a clear schedule that I cannot refuse. But everyone understands me, even if I go to a birthday or a wedding with my food containers. And no one disturbs me, persuades me — everyone knows that it is absolutely useless.

About competition and stress

What is competition in sport? How serious is it?

Competition in sport is probably viewed differently. In my case, for example, I trained a daughter of Chita, she performs in my category and finished second in the Russian championship, then second in the world championships after me. She competed for the first time and understands that she could only dream of it before we met. So our competition is healthy, we rather support each other. In addition, my work as a coach is also evaluated here. I can not only prepare myself, but also guide my students on this path. I don’t know what it is for others, maybe there can be different variations.

Sport and the struggle for success is a huge stress. How to get rid of stress?

I have always considered that stress stimulates human possibilities in a good way. Maybe that’s why I look 35 and not 53. Whereas stress, as a rule, is reduced by sleep. This is the most important thing that can be allowed when preparing for competition without guilt. While relieving stress like my clients, with delicious food, this variant is definitely not for me.

About mission and career choice

You are a coach. Is it a vocation or a consequence of being in bodybuilding that has become the key to life?

I am a trainer who not only works with clients in the gym, but also trains athletes for competitions. These are two different specificities, and the job I do gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction. I think it’s my calling, not I chose it.

What is the difference between fitness and athletic? Is it the loads because doing sports for yourself is easier?

Fitness is a lifestyle. Clients first come to me to get in shape, then get interested in it and choose another option called sports. And there are many people who do.

If it’s not that job, what else could you do?

Also, I love to cook. When you play sports, it becomes a little different, there is always a chance to show off in another area. Maybe I will still want it because there are many restaurants. However, they cook delicious but bad food. It’s a problem to cook in a way that people like and it’s beneficial.

“I had opportunities but I had no desire”

You were born in Kazan. What do you love most about your hometown and its people?

Kazan has changed a lot lately. I am proud of my city, I love it and I invite all my friends there. I want everyone to know how interesting and beautiful it has become here now. I’m lucky, very kind, generous and generous people surround me here, I appreciate their support and attention. Their moral support, the fact that my contribution to the development of sport in Tatarstan is highly appreciated inspires me a lot, gives me energy and the desire to win.

If not Kazan, which city would you choose for yourself and why?

I had opportunities to move to Moscow and even abroad, but I never had such a desire.

What if sports?

You Like cars. What exactly To do you Like? Do you like to travel, do you like to drive or is it more serious?

I like cars, especially big ones. I’ve had many cars, but I see only one meaning of the car: it’s a vehicle.

You also like dancing and cooking. What To do you Dance? Why did you choose dance?

Yes, I love to dance. And I always do it when I have time. I love kizomba dancing, I tried it and was delighted to hear the compliments from my choreographer who staged my performances. I’m good at composing free music. If I didn’t do bodybuilding, I could dance.

What is your signature dish? How often do you do it?

Chicken breast is my favorite and signature dish. Perhaps many will be surprised because I almost always eat chicken breast for dinner throughout the preparation for competitions. It’s a grilled breast with pickled onions, fresh vegetables — bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers. And I haven’t been tired of this dinner in such a simple way in the last 20 years.

In conclusion, what would you wish for our readers?

I wish everyone to stay healthy, not to be afraid to start training in the gym at any age. It is not necessary to postpone this moment. While I will share a little secret with women over 40: the older I get, the better my body gets.

Interviewed by Inna Serova


Rose D. Jones