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Евгений Белецкий и Ирина Зиновьева

Our biographies are bright and extremely long, so we can’t remember everything. We will probably focus only on fitness-related stories. However, it turns out that stories that seem unrelated to fitness are somehow intertwined with it. For example…

Evgenii Beletckii: I quit school when I was in Year 8; I was only a boy. My grandad was a driver and my dad was a driver, so I chose to study auto mechanics in a technical college. I was a distinction-level student at school, but in the technical college, dedovshchina (harassment and bullying) was the key ideology, which would probably break me, like it happened to many others, if I didn’t do sport. Fortunately for me, by the time I turned 15, I had already been successfully practising athletics for several years; I was also not bad at martial arts sambo. In the first year of college, I learnt how to break a brick with a bare hand. By the third year, I accomplished a record in weightlifting. I am confident to say that doing this “fitness” made it possible to graduate from the college with high distinction.

Irina Zinoveva: I have always been proper. I was also naive and romantic. I graduated from school with straight As, apart from one subject: physical education. I got B for that, because my PE teacher was forced to give me this mark, otherwise, I would have been given C. By the way, our PE teacher was very nice, but at that point in time, physical education and I were not compatible. After school I went to the university, like all proper girls should do. Why did I choose to study shipbuilding? You won’t believe it, but once in Vladivostok, I saw a huge white ship by the pier, and my faith was defined. I am serious – I was so naive! I got married in the third year of uni, then graduated with the first class honours; gave birth to two children and buried myself in a factory. What does it have to do with fitness? The thing is… I have always been an anti-fitness kind of girl, and I couldn’t imagine myself in the role of a sportsman or a trainer; these fantasies couldn’t exist even in my worst nightmares.

Eugene Beletski interview
An interview after winning the World Championship (Canada, 1997)

Evgenii: I remember when Irina entered my gym for the first time. I didn’t pay too much attention to her at that moment. I saw two women who were not so young but aspiring to something… I was about to head back home after training on that day and suggested to them that we would walk together. When we stepped outside, I showed them the way to the next-door gym saying that they would like it better over there. This is how I almost missed my destiny. And the same happened again! In a year, Irina appeared again at the doorsteps of my gym, this time with another girlfriend. This time I was intrigued by her girlfriend – she was such an interesting girl. I let them exercise, but told them not to annoy my buddies and to stay out of my sight. I told them to go to the gym with fitness equipment. Real experts don’t waste time on using the gym equipment, but girls… they can spend as much time there as they please. Whatever makes them happy. That was the second time when my fate almost slipped away from me.

Irina Zinovyeva interview
Irina Zinoveva, Master of Sport of Russia, International Class; champion and record-holder of Siberia and Russian Far East in powerlifting (1995)

Irina: I realised that I was going crazy from the overwhelming incompleteness of my life.Nothing special was going on in my life. Although everything seemed fine on the surface, my family life wasn’t working. It was fine, but it was meaningless and banal. Years flew by, and my life was slipping away from me. Life routine was established: work, factory, kindergarten, shop, kitchen… It was not what I wanted. Perhaps, I saw everything in black and white, but my God, I can’t even imagine that I could have spent my whole life up until retirement this way. 

One day my girlfriend asked me to go to the gym with her as she was a bit shy to go alone. We went together. And together were we asked to leave. Actually I wasn’t surprised, and I didn’t really want to be there. In a year, another girlfriend dragged me to the gym again. And again, we were sent off, but this time not to the streets but to another gym with fitness equipment. I didn’t understand why back then, but only later I found out that fitness machines are for “dummies”, and “real sportsmen” work only with “real weights”! Well, we were basically left alone to our own devices, we didn’t have a trainer, so I decided to read a little, to gain more knowledge. I went to a library. There, I realised that there was absolutely nothing to read about the subject. All I could find was a subscription to a magazine “Health”, where I found some recommendations for building strength on the last page. By the way, there was no such word as “fitness” in the Russian language back then. In summary, I had copied lots of pictures and started exercising; I even tried teaching my friend a little. As it turned out, I followed the recommendations that were complete nonsense, both methodological and practical. Right there I realised for the first time in my life that I hate giving up. I also realised that sport was not only hard work and persistence, but also a knowledge bank and science. It is the whole world that I wasn’t familiar with at all. I didn’t understand it and didn’t have access to it. And I wanted to explore, to learn the unknown. As I said before I was naive and romantic.

Evgenii: Briefly speaking, I was in charge of a scientific society at uni, so I literally lived in a physiology lab, dissecting mice and frogs. I even worked in a hospital for 5 years in order to have a chance to study human anatomy. I spoke at different scientific conferences, finished a thesis about the methods of identifying effective ways to develop muscle strength. Then I moved on to do a research degree. Life was fun and exciting! But something terrible happened: the Soviet Union collapsed and all equipment, all professors moved abroad in a matter of seconds. Only the gym was left, which became a foundation for my experiments. A few of my buddies were still around, and they became test subjects in my experiments. By that time I had already been the Master of Sport and the Champion of Russia in Powerlifting. I had enough theoretical and practical experience. By the way, a lot of my buddies became high class sportsmen: a lot of Masters of National and International Level, European and World champions and record-holders in powerlifting. Irina Zinoveva was one of those stars! But that happened much later… let’s go back to that gym… I went inside and my jaw dropped when I saw a woman who was doing some nonsense following the pictures in a “Health” magazine. Being a gentleman and feeling sympathetic, I gave her a couple of obvious recommendations that I thought she would never use. Why would she? To my great surprise, not only she understood my advice but also came back with more questions! Then a wheel got spinning: Irina attentively listened to my lectures not understanding a thing, some time after that she would return with more questions. Based on the type of questions she asked, I realised that she didn’t sleep at night: she was reading books trying to understand me. Eventually she understood me! I was impressed by Irina’s ability to learn and absorb new information, then based on that she was able to create something meaningful. She demonstrated information analysis and synthesis, which is the reason why the human cortex was created by Mother Nature in the first place… was that a bad joke? Either way, Irina, who was a ship engineer and an excellent mother, was able to rapidly get familiar with the unknown world of biochemistry and physiology, kinesiology and biophysics. Steadily and persistently she pushed through and worked hard at understanding the science, and she used her deep understanding of the subject in her workouts. Needless to say, it was inevitable that eventually she became my favourite test subject. Naturally, how could I not fall in love with a girl like this?

Irina: Just imagine this: the beginning of the 90s, the USSR collapsed, a terrible crisis and total chaos reigned. I had no job or any means of survival; I had two little children and no flat to live in the middle of winter. My accustomed way of living collapsed in a moment: divorce, a serious illness and being completely misunderstood by friends. A catastrophe. Actually, it would have been a catastrophe for many women in the same position, but I had the backing of sport, and I had new friends. By the way, friendship in sport is incredibly reliable. It is something you can be proud of and something you can rely on all your life. Circulating in the powerlifting world for a number of years gave me not only victories, records and titles, but also set a direction for my future life. Yes, my life became colourful. I was curious, and I had an occupation that was worth living! Also, there was a man who was more exciting than the whole world. Although he was an awful Casanova, which made me jealous day and night. Well, everything has a price, and sport became my “everything”. So, when Evgenii rightly won a competition of young scientists and went to the US to teach in a university and to  finish his dissertation, I found myself alone and became fully immersed into fitness. Then our small gym got transformed into a fitness club “Energy”, which became the biggest in the region and gained special recognition from the regional Governor for the contribution to the development of culture. In general, all my life after that was flowing under the stars of fitness.

Eugene and Irina New Zealand
NZ, Wellington, 2012

Evgenii: Around about the year 2000 my interest in theory became more important than my drive for practical training. I left the powerlifting world and left Russia. I was immersed in: Academic work in the US, lectures in Japan, internships in the Columbia University, the University of Kansas and NYU, Queen Victoria grant and a PhD in New Zealand, Muskie/FSA grants and the most prestigious academic award in the world: Fulbright Fellowship and a diploma from IIE (the IIE, that produced more than 50 Nobel Prize winners!)… I was in a good company, had an exciting life and overall I had nothing to complain about. Thanks to the Internet, I kept in touch with Irina and was happy to see her success: she obtained the second university degree (with first class honours). She won a prestigious international contest with her thesis about sport management that gave her a ticket to the USA to participate in an internship program. Then she obtained degrees in Moscow Academy of Physical Education and Fitness Academy, she eared prestigious certificates in the US and Australia and took a position of an associate professor.  And our small gym “Energy” expanded into a mega-monster super fitness club. Yes, our lives had been following parallel paths in different countries, in different languages, but at the end we both existed under the same sky, under the same stars of fitness. This is the fact. That’s why I wasn’ surprised when one day Irina and Arisha (her daughter) flew to New Zealand to visit me and brought me back home.

Irina: Yes, once, while I was watching waves hitting the incredibly beautiful shore in Sydney (where I once again studied unlimited intricacies of fitness), I suddenly realised that it was time. My son gave me his blessing, and my daughter and I boarded the plane to go to New Zealand, where Evgenii lived back then. Thankfully, it took only a couple of hours to arrive there. I presented an ultimatum to Evgenii that he couldn’t refuse. We returned to Russia together and in a year and a half (after 25 years of friendship and love) we got married. The first people who congratulated us were our friends-sportsmen. These people made life in the world of fitness meaningful and fulfilling. And we intend to keep living this way.

Eugene and Irina Energy Fitness Club
 The gala concert of the fitness-club “Energy”, dedicated to its 10-year anniversary, Komsomolsk-on-Amur

Irina and Evgenii: Yes, we have plenty of experience in sport and fitness, and we would like to share it with you. According to our experience, we know that not all weightlifters and fitness ladies are dying to read academic articles in fancy journals. This information is accessible to me and Irina. However, I don’t have that much time to explain all of it to the client during a personal training session, unfortunately. But we really want to explain and share our experience.

That’s why we decided to create this website.

About us. About fitness. For you.

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