“He was power lifting an enormous barbell in a very old school gym. I was fascinated by his strength, power and muscularity. I thought to myself, ‘I want to be just like him one day’.”
Lithuanian- born Victoria Strelciunaite recalled the moment she was looking through old photographs belonging to her grandfather, Algis Staskevicius.
From a young age she was always playing basketball, tennis, swimming, rowing and running but it was her grandfather who really inspired her.
Her determined wish to be like him became a reality when the 28-year-old moved to Horsham around eight years ago.
“I saw him doing press ups early mornings and I always joined him,” explains Victoria who lives in laurel Walk. “When I saw him wearing short sleeve t-shirts in the middle of the winter I did the same, even though I was freezing to my bones, I refused to wear my coat.”
She’s now a successful personal trainer and gym manageress at Cisswood Leisure Club, where she has been for almost six years, and is also doing shifts at Austin Personal training gym in Horley all of which has been driven by her 20-year passion for sports.
“I love my profession,” continueed Victoria. “Being a personal trainer is so rewarding. I see my clients becoming happier, fitter and more confident. Personal training can change people’s lives.”
Initially studying business management, a year later she came to the UK giving her the opportunity to study fitness, kinesiology, GP referrals, personal training and many other subjects she found more rewarding.
She continues to train hard with 60-minute exercising sessions doing weight lifting and high intensity interval training (HIIT). Just the thought of it would make most ache, but Victoria is forever pushing herself to the limits and recently felt like she needed a reward for all that work.
“So I decided that I want to compete in a bodybuilding competition,” she revealed. “I deeply believe in law of attraction. If you focus on positive thought you will attract positive results.
“I did a lot research about female bodybuilding. It was in my mind day and night. My laptop is full of bodybuilding diets, exercises, posing, etc but I needed more guidance. I knew that I would meet someone one day who will be able to help me.”
And that someone was Tracy Austin - personal trainer and figure bodybuilding competitor. This came after Victoria met Clair Rutledge, a member of Cisswood Leisure club. Being good friends of Tracy, Clair put the two in touch before they eventually met at Tracy’s private gym which boasts all the latest 3D equipment.
“We chatted for over two hours,” she continued. “Her knowledge is inspiring. Seeing how passionate I am, she offered me to train together. Our friendship started with squats.
“Tracy saw a competitive side of me and suggested me entering Miss Galaxy Universe - the show designed for women, by women. It is female fitness show based around performance and functionality with touch of elegance to the stage.”
Victoria entered the competition which was held at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley in June 2013. She came 6th out of 70 girls in the Fitness Champion category, but in the October show she exceeded her expectations.
“I placed 2nd in Beach Body Category, 5th In Fitness Champion category and 3rd Supreme Champion,” said Victoria. “Also I have been given an award for Outstanding Performance.
“I loved every minute on the stage. My favourite part of the show was Fitness Tests. You have to perform exercises such us push ups, triceps dips, pull ups and many others. I absolutely love triceps dips. I performed 84 in a minute.”
Aside from this, she also attends wado ryu karate classes at her local club in Roffey and has always dreamt of having a black belt in karate since was was a little girl.
“Karate has given me more confidence,” she added, “also it helped me to develop my strength, reaction and stamina. Currently I have a brown belt. I am determined to get a black one in a couple of years.
“I am so pleased with my achievements this year. All thanks to amazing people helping and supporting me. Also mum and dad - thanks for the genes!”
She is now looking ahead to a just as successful 2014.
“I want to be on stage striking my double bicep pose in one of the British Bodybuilding contests.
Pictures by Lowell Mason.