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When it comes to bodybuilding, I find It fairly easy to determine who will or should win in a given lineup. The same is not true in the fitness division. The standards of judging a physique are different and less objective, and it’s impossible to predict how the judges are going to score the performance round.
But when I first saw Oksana Grishina in the 2007 Fitness Olympia, I had no doubt I was looking at an eventual champion — even though she only placed seventh at that event.
Grishina’s routines have always looked so professional and entertaining that I could imagine audiences paying to see them at a Las Vegas lounge. But as outstanding as her fitness performances have always been, Grishina reminds us that originally her training was as a rhythmic gymnast. Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport in which gymnasts perform on a floor with an apparatus: hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon or rope.
“When it came to gymnastics skills like tumbling, handstands and the like,” Grishina explained, “I had to learn and master those from scratch.”
When I first saw her, Grishina was not as muscular as she eventually became (to the point where some have recommended she compete in physique), but she was beautiful and, as a rhythmic gymnast, the grace and elegance of her routine was outstanding. Actually, I was amazed that it took so long for the judges to recognize Grishina’s excellence. She didn’t win a pro show until the St. Louis Pro in 2012 and didn’t place first at the Olympia until 2014.
From that time on her success was phenomenal. She won four Fitness Olympia titles and 10 Arnold Classics worldwide. Now, she’s set to return to the Fitness Olympia stage once again in 2020.
But one new element that has changed the course of fitness and of Grishina’s career was the introduction of a new type of competition called pole fitness.
“In 2018 for the first time in history I brought the OG (Oksana Grishina) Pole Fitness Championship to the Olympia Expo as a new brand of fitness, and became the promoter as well as in 2019,” Grishina said. “I’ve been involved in pole fitness since 2014 when I won my first Arnold title using the pole as part of my performance. I fell in love with the sport, and want to help make it part of the larger fitness world.”
Pole fitness involves doing a routine using the kind of pole usually associated with strip clubs, but Grishina emphasizes that fitness routines are much more gymnastic and athletic, not just women dancing around or hanging off a pole.
“I love fitness because it’s a way to express myself as an athlete and as an artist. I see pole fitness in the same way, as a beautiful mix of creativity, athletic performance and athletic look,” she explained. “It can inspire more people not to just learn some new moves but also look to continue to look more fit and athletic.“
In 2020, Grishina has decided to come back to competition to support the fitness division, and she’s excited to do so. “I have something great to share with the Olympia fans, judges and bodybuilding world,“ she said.
This goes without saying, but fans of the Fitness division are in for a great show this year with Grishina’s return and the return of fellow champ Adela Garcia.
“Of course, doing both [competing and putting on the OG Pole Fitness Championship show] in one year would be impossible,” Grishina said. “So my beautiful friend and partner Jennifer Henry will produce the OG Pole Fitness Championship this year, so I can focus on my preparation. And we’re glad that Dan Solomon decided to put the show on Saturday so I can still be compete in Fitness, since the IFBB Pro Fitness contest is on Friday.”
Grishina has never stopped training and working on her performance skills, so she believes her short break from competition has not caused her to lose a step. It’s just given her time to rest, recuperate, heal and improve.
“I’m continuing to both improve my performance and to develop my physique as well,” Grishina said. “I like showing that a woman athlete can be muscular without losing her flexibility, agility and the ability to move elegantly and gracefully. So I’m looking forward to seeing my fans again this year in Las Vegas.”