ZHANNA STRIANO: RUSSIAN-BORN BIKINI PRO
ON FITNESS & FASHION MODELING, CO-OWNING A SWANKY LOUNGE IN BROOKLYN, NYC AND KICKBOXING FOR CARDIO
Interview by Vadim Ternovski // Photography by Oreste Schiavone [Kaostika Studios] & Rick Abt
ZS Privet, my English is not perfect so feel free to correct me. [smiles] I am from European part of Russia. From the city called Ufa, which is the capital of Bashkir Republic.
VT I know sports are always a big thing in Russia. Did you ever do anything, athletically speaking, when you were growing up there?
ZS I never did anything professionally back in Russia but I always was an active child. I was participating in all sport events at school and later I was giving lessons of physical education at university instead of my professor.
“…I THOUGHT TO MYSELF THAT INSTEAD OF JUST DOING SPORTS FOR FUN I SHOULD ACHIEVE SOMETHING IN THAT SPHERE.”
ZS I always was a competitive person. I graduated school with medal and university with red diploma, which means I had almost only A’s in my diploma. In university I was participating in all kind of events too; from dancing and singing to working in the law firm of my professor. In USA I was going to the gym for quiet a while. Then I thought to myself that instead of just doing sports for fun I should achieve something in that sphere. That is how I decided to start competing in Physique championships.
VT I first saw you compete in a Bikini division in an NPC show. What made you finally decide on moving away from a federation that doesn’t do any drug-testing, into a drug-tested competition?
ZS I think natural competitions are healthier and more fair because I would like to go on stage knowing that all contestants have equal chances to win. In NPC you never know what other contestants were using for preparation. Moreover, without being a citizen of USA it is very hard to become Pro in NPC. I don’t think my legal status should be a barrier for my goals in sport
“ONE DAY I CAN GO HEAVY ON COMPOUND MOVEMENTS. OTHER DAYS I JUST TRY TO GET A CRAZY PUMP.”
ZS Every workout is different because I am trying to shock my body. One day I can go heavy on compound movements. Other days I just try to get a crazy pump. But most of the time I leave the headache of my workout routine to my trainer, Nigel Akpabio. Usually I try to take my cardio outside. I run to Verrazano bridge or take my pit bull for a run in the neighborhood. I started preparation for OCB Big East little later than I was supposed to so I was doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for my cardio in order to loose weight faster.
VT I understand you are also a model/actress? Tell us more about it. How does your training and being a Bikini competitor translate into the modeling gigs that you get?
ZS Yes, I do modeling for quite a long time too. I am doing cat walk for Couture Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week for various designers. After I started competing in Bikini contests my answer to the questions like if I am “comfortable with wearing a bikini on the runway or having a swimsuit photo shoot on the beach” was obviously, YES. [smiles] In acting I am just the beginner. My most exciting experience in acting was being an extra actress in the movie Wolf of Wall street.
“I WAKE UP, HAVE MY BREAKFAST AND GO TO THE GYM OR FOR A RUN LIKE MOST ATHLETES DO. I JUST DO IT MUCH LATER IN THE DAY.” [SMILES]
ZS I am one of the owners of Soho lounge in Brooklyn. That`s why sometimes it is so hard for me to stay away from all delicious deserts that we have on the menu.
VT Does this mean you have to stay up late? And how does this impact your training schedule?
ZS Our lounge closes at 4 o`clock in the morning so I go to sleep around 6am. That`s why my mornings usually start in the afternoon. I wake up, have my breakfast and go to the gym or for a run like most athletes do. I just do it much later in the day. [smiles]
VT I saw your pictures from the last show and you looked amazing. Tell us the secrets to getting the right kind of abs and glutes that are required to place high at a Bikini competition.
ZS Thank you so much for the compliment. The secret for abs is simple. Low body fat and heavy compound movements. If we talk about glutes, I would say that the best exercise for me is hip thrust.
“I AM TRYING NOT LOSE MUSCLE AND TRYING TO LOOK FULLER ON STAGE, NOT BEING TOO LEAN.”
ZS I like misbehaving and cheating on my diet but truly speaking, my micros are pretty high for my off-season. That’s why it is not so hard for me to do 6 weeks out preparation. I have 320 grams of carbs a day in my off-season. My favored cheat meal is desert. I even pick only sweet and chocolate tastes for my supplements.
VT I often see your pictures with boxing gloves on. Are you also a kickboxer?
ZS My journey with gloves started in Gleasons where I was doing boxing with an old-school Russian trainer, Michael Kozlowski. Right now I do kickboxing at Lions Fight with Vahe Sahakyan, a five time world champion super heavy weight in kickboxing. And yes, it is my favorite type of cardio. I get to know new techniques, release stress and have fun.
VT When is your next show and will you do anything differently in your next prep?
ZS My next show is June 13. The Mr.& Mrs CT Championships, WNBF Pro – Q where I am hoping to get my second Pro Card. This competition is less then a month away from my last ANBF competition where I got my first Pro Card. That`s why my preparation for the next show will maintain on higher carbs because I am trying not lose muscle and trying to look fuller on stage, not being too lean.
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