Anya Tarasiuk is a 25-year-old personal trainer and fitness instructor at Bodytree Studio. Among her repertoire are Bounce and Tone classes using mini-trampolines – which are always tough but a lot of fun. She moved to Abu Dhabi to perform in Yas Waterworld’s underwater show Spirit of the Pearl, building on skills from years of training to be a synchronized swimmer back in the UK. She spent four years as one of the younger members of Team Great Britain, but due to a hip operation in 2011 she lost her spot and ended up competing at the 2012 London Olympics as a reserve. It was a tough experience, but one she believes pushed her to work harder than her former teammates. Anya Tarasiuk became certified in coaching a number of disciplines, including pilates, barre and personal training – not to mention emerging mentally and physically stronger.
What does “live healthy” mean to you?
“Live healthy” means finding and maintaining the correct balance in your mind and body. It means, to me, finding the correct balance of food, exercise and sleep to allow my body to perform at its very peak at all times. I also believe in relaxing and having some downtime away from my work regime, so yes I do eat what I want, to an extent, on weekends. But I’m always mindful of my decisions as I want to stay on track and feel good for the next week ahead.
What are the first things you do when you get up in the morning?
I always take a shower first thing in the morning, followed by a freshly brewed black coffee with a scoop of collagen and a teaspoon of Brain Octane MCT oil. I find these things really help me start my day with the best energy.
When and how did physical fitness become important to you?
I’ve been active since the moment I could walk. Participating in swimming, synchronized swimming, gymnastics, dance and tennis from a very young age, I already developed a hunger for physical fitness. After I finished competing professionally in synchronized swimming, I went on to do my personal-training instructor course, so I could pass on my knowledge and experience to others, helping them reach their fitness goals.
What’s the hardest thing about synchronized swimming?
They were 3.5-minute routines and you had to sprint the whole time. We were only under water for 30 seconds at a time, but trying to sprint and hold your breath at the same time, you feel like you are going to die! There is no other sport where you have to hold your breath… We’re dying inside, but we have to make it look pretty.
How did you deal with that Olympic experience – being a reserve member, missing out on the final performance – after so many years of hard work?
It was heartbreaking. I don’t really even speak about it. You’re kind of shaped into who you are by what you experience. I’m okay now, I’m kind of over it.
How did that experience change you?
It made me a stronger person. Today, it makes me work harder and push myself and push harder. I’ve been pushed to my absolute limit, so I know when I try to push people in class. I want everyone to be their best.
What’s your basic fitness routine?
My basic fitness routine is tricky, as my work is based around actually doing my fitness class. I’m pretty exhausted after teaching a full day of classes. However, on the weekend, when I have more time, I will make my own weights circuit followed by an inclined walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes.
When you have no time and no place to work out, what do you do? How do you feel?
My body feels very stagnant and lethargic if I don’t exercise for two days at a stretch. I will always try and fit in a walk, especially if I’m on holiday. Otherwise, YouTube videos can be great even if you have little space. I will either find an intense yoga workout or a quick 20 minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout to do, depending on my mood.
What secret weapon or hack you can share?
Walking! It’s low impact, and fresh air is great for the mind and body. I also make sure I’m getting at least 3 liters of water a day.
What’s your favorite workout?
I don’t really have a favorite workout, as I like to keep as much variety in my workouts as possible so I don’t get bored. I do love the BodyTree Body workout, which was created by my talented boss and colleague, as it combines all areas of a workout in one. It includes dance cardio, arm weights, interval training, a lot of glutes and, of course, a great core burn.
What’s your favorite healthy snack?
I’m a huge sucker for almond butter. My favorite combo is almond butter smooshed inside a date.
What’s your favorite food to indulge in?
Oh gosh, my serious guilty pleasure is ice cream. Any flavor. But only on weekends.
What would you say to motivate people who are struggling to live healthy?
Start with small steps in physical exercise and dietary habits. There’s no point in trying to run a marathon before you can walk. You’ll start to notice the health benefits almost immediately, giving you more energy and helping you think clearer. I know it sounds corny, but think of your body as a temple. Treasure and appreciate how amazing it is. Only feed it with the right fuel and the kindness it deserves.