To see Oksana Grishina’s gravity-defying routines in action is to appreciate just how much hard work goes into being a top fitness competitor. One-handed pushups, full splits, and head-over-heel spins may draw on her background as a rhythmic gymnast. But Grishina is perhaps best known for her boundary-pushing choreography, from an eye-popping 2014 pole-dancing program to her bad-girl Black Swan 2015 homage.

“Competing in fitness gives me an amazing opportunity to express my creativity,” says Grishina, who has taken home top honors at the past two Olympia, Arnold Classic, and Fitness International competitions. “I’ve always had the discipline and attitude of an athlete, but fitness also allows me to show my work as a choreographer and performer.” Grishina began competing in rhythmic gymnastics at the relatively advanced age of 7, when her father (a Russian military officer) was assigned to Riga, Latvia. After only a few months of training, she placed third in her first competition. Gymnastics took center stage throughout her childhood, and she spent countless hours training. But she considers her fitness prep to be an even greater challenge. “To maintain your skills and conditioning as you get older and to continue to perform without getting hurt takes an incredible amount of effort.”

Her acrobatics coach helps her perfect her movements, but her performances remain largely personal. “From the beginning I have always created my own routines. They come from things that are important to me and shape who I am.” Her 2016 Arnold Classic routine highlights her love of Michael Jackson, showcasing some new acrobatic moves in tribute to the King of Pop.” Read the full interview on page 14 of the March/April 2016 issue of Muscle & Fitness Hers, on newsstands now.

Per Bernal

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