I hate to sound like a broken record…and I’ve mentioned this in previous articles as well, but for me going to the gym, encouraging everyone to exercise (not necessarily becoming a gym rat) and live a healthy life style has become part of my DNA. It has gotten to a point where going to the gym it’s actually like breathing, I plan my schedule around the gym and my time there. I know for some people this might be weird and sound crazy. And the reason why is because gym rats and people who go to the gym consistently are build and wired just a bit different than other people.

My brain chemistry completely altered when I started going to the gym. I know it sounds cliché and cheesy, but it’s true. Once you go to the gym and start seeing the changes in your body, in your mind-set, you can’t go back to your old life style. It simply won’t work, because the gym changes your entire perspective on life in the best was possible. I want to clarify that for me the gym did just that, but for other people might be a different sport. It’s important to note that doing exercise is what matters in general; I’m not saying fitness or lifting weights is the answer. It was for me, but for you it might just be hiking, yoga, jogging, basketball, tennis, swimming and so on. Choose the sport that makes you feel strong, empowered, happy, free and that helps you in all areas of your life. 

I always get questions like „Where do you get your motivation from to go almost every single day at the gym?” or „Can’t you just skip one day and not go to the gym?”. People have seen me spend so much time there that at one point they just asked me „Wouldn’t just be easier to sleep here?”. To be fair, I always take these questions as a compliment. We can talk about motivation in the beginning of the journey for sure, but at this point in time, motivation transformed into discipline and that is the key to being consistent even when you don’t really feel like it.

We’re all aware of how accurate the algorithm of Social Media platforms can get, especially on TikTok. I can only be grateful for that because otherwise I would have missed out on discovering so many amazing creators on there. And Antony is one of them. Let me explain. I was seeing all these content creators posting their workout routines, giving tips and tricks, maybe share their fitness journey and that was great. I enjoyed that content. But when the first video of Antony popped-up on my fyp it just hit different.

Not many creators have the ability through their content to make me stare at the screen, laugh and actually verbalize out loud things like „Oh my God, I know, right? Bulgarians split quads are the worse! But yeah, they’re the best too.” or „Yeap, a gym rat gf would love to meal prep with her gym rat bf and make protein pancakes.”. I don’t know if this makes much sense, but his content just stroke a core because it was so relatable and because I went through some of the things he mentioned in the videos. There are some main characters in his stories that I just know he was going to mention and that is the famous Jessica (we all have our own Jessica type stories) and Bulgarian split squads. The way I see it for Antony these two things became a trademark and it’s hilarious to hear them mentioned in the videos.

A lot of people want to start going to the gym, but they either get intimidated because they don’t know where to start and how to train or they struggle with finding the motivation to showing up consistently in the gym. That’s where Antony comes in, because his type of content, his mind-set is exactly what people need to stay on track and consistent. And this is precisely why I was so excited about this interview.

I sent Antony a few questions about how his fitness journey started, how important is to have a goal in mind when you start going to the gym, what supplements to take, but so many other topics as well.

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How did your fitness journey begin? What made you start going to the gym?

As a teen, I struggled with lots of social insecurities on the basis of a language barrier that I had because of moving to the United States from Europe at the age of 13. I never spoke English before and everyone in America seemed like they were from a different planet. It was very hard for me to make friends and feel like I belonged. In addition to the social anxiety, I also suffered from a hormonal problem in my early teens which resulted in me being overweight even though I was always physically active – playing sports and doing martial arts. Other children at school often mocked me for my weight which made me very self-conscious and often resulted in sadness. I ate my sadness away with candy, which as you may have already guessed trapped me even further.

As all of that was happening, I discovered the old movies starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jean Claude Van Damme. I especially liked the Rocky movies, Bloodsport, and the Terminator movies. Through the characters of these actors I fell in love with the idea that building a strong body can also build a stronger mind which leads to confidence, self-love, and resilience against all odds. Just like millions of other boys my age I wanted to be like those guys. I wanted to overcome my insecurities and rise to my fullest potential. I wanted to walk through life like a magician – confident, charismatic, and independent. Once I turned 16, I made a pact with myself that I will do whatever it is in my power to change for the better. That was why I went to the gym and how my fitness journey began.

Do you remember the first time at the gym? Did you already know what every machine does and how to use it? Did you have a personal trainer?

I remember my first time at the gym very vividly. My first gym was close to where I used to live in Brooklyn, NY. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing the first time I went and never had a personal trainer because that was very expensive and my family could not afford it. Over time, I started learning how machines worked and discovered more training routines from bodybuilding videos – inspired by famous bodybuilders like Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Dorian Yates.

My first gym split was the classic bro split (chest, back, shoulders, legs, arms, rest) and I was very scared of even trying pull ups because I was too heavy to do even one rep and thought everyone would make fun of me.

Did you have a goal set in mind when you started the gym? Or you realized later what exactly your goals are.  

I started with a clear goal in mind – to do whatever it took to change my body and mindset for the better because I was tired of being miserable.

I for one did not know what my fitness goal was until later on, so my question is, do you think it’s important to set that from the beginning or simply go with the flow for a while?

I think it is extremely important to have a clear and strong WHY for starting your fitness journey. When I say WHY I don’t just mean – „because I want to lose 20 pounds”. Ask yourself – how would losing 20 pounds make you feel? How would it help you be a better, stronger version of yourself? A fitness journey is very long and very hard in every way you can imagine – physical, emotional, and mental.

During this journey you are frequently going to have days when you don’t want to go to the gym and train and as a result you may very easily fall off track. Calling on your strong sense of why will help you overcome that and continue doing what needs to be done even if you don’t feel like it – be it getting the training in, sticking to a clean diet and giving up the cookie, or going outside for morning cardio. Having a why will result in greater consistency and discipline both of which are critical for fitness success. A lack of why results in just another „New Year’s resolution” split – 2 weeks on, 50 weeks off. Needless to say that does not work.

Let’s talk about Social Media for a bit. Tell us what made you start posting on TikTok and IG about gym related topics and where you get your inspiration from?

Only 3 years ago I was the last person you could imagine posting videos on tiktok and IG. I was very uncomfortable talking on camera and did not think I was creative at all in that way. But those were just limiting beliefs. I realized that if I wanted to grow as a person I needed to do things that I was not comfortable doing – so I started! My first videos were horrible and cringy but I like to believe that I got better with them over time and it was very satisfying to talk about something I am passionate about in a creative way.

When it comes to my content style I wanted to be different from other fitness creators and make content that other gym rats could relate to on a very human level. I also threw in some humor and sarcasm to make my videos more entertaining. I draw my inspiration from my experiences as a gym rat. It is not very hard as I live and breathe this lifestyle.

How would you define a gym rat and why?

A gym rat is not just a regular gym goer, it is a person whose primary objective and goal is to become as muscular as what they look like with their pump. Considering that it is impossible to become as big as your pump because your pump is always bigger than you, the only thing we can do with that goal is keep chasing it.

You visited Europe recently. Tell us some differences you’ve noticed about the gym culture in the US and the gym culture in Europe.

I LOVE going to gyms in the various countries where I travel to experience the fitness culture there. European gyms are a lot cleaner and much better maintained. They also have a much stricter rule regarding hygiene. Unlike in American gyms, people are required to use towels on all equipment and machines.

Additionally, it seemed to me that people in Europe are much less concerned with getting „big” but rather work out mostly for health reasons. I think American gyms have a lot more people who are dedicated to bodybuilding as a sport or lifestyle potentially due to the larger influence of steroid culture here.

A lot of us tend to listen to trainers or influencers on Social Media when they speak about the best exercise to do in the gym to obtain a certain body figure. From your perspective, how can we spot someone who’s selling us lies and is just posting for clicks and likes? What would be the red flags in those cases?

The most obvious red flag to watch out for is when a trainer or influencer tries to sell the message of „this is the absolute best exercise or program you should be doing for X goal”. No program or exercise is best for anyone as there are many alternatives people could implement just as effectively and everyone’s body will respond differently to various stimuli, such as exercise selection, nutrition, and training methodology.

I believe that any effective trainer should introduce their client to a baseline science-based method suitable for their goal and make adjustments based on their progress (or lack thereof).

I’ve heard people say that they went to the gym to lose weight, but they never did and after a while they just stopped going because they did not see results as fast as they expected to. What would be your advice in this case? And in what time frame we can expect to see results (losing weight or gaining muscle)?

Lack of results can happen for two reasons – incorrect methodology when taking action (such as not tracking foods properly and eating in a calorie maintenance or surplus when trying to lose weight) or impatience. Metabolic changes (weight loss or muscle gain) take time – they will not be instant. Tracking your results every day will not be sustainable as these results will not be large enough to be noticeable resulting in de-motivation to continue. Instead, it should be analyzed as a long-term trend and corrected if results are not achieved as expected.

When I used to work with clients I would always give a baseline timeframe of 3 months to start seeing noticeable change. However, for some people it happens faster if they respond effectively to the training and nutrition methodology. Last but not least and as I said in the previous question, it is important to have a clear sense of WHY which will help stay consistent on your fitness journey.

Most people don’t know what supplements to take when they start going to the gym. What would be your recommendations? 

People really overthink supplements and often take what they don’t really need. My recommendation first and foremost is to try and consume less supplements and more Whole Foods of various types – proteins, vegetables, fruit, etc. Whole Foods will provide the best and highest quality sources of vitamins and nutrients. However, some supplements cannot be replaced by whole food sources. Good examples are Vitamin D (taken as D3+K2) and creatine. Vitamin D deficiency results in not being exposed to enough sunlight (the case for many people with office jobs) and creatine can only be found in meat in very small quantities.

I won’t be going into specifics here but these two supplements can greatly help with progress at the gym. Additionally, if your diet is not rich in fish, it would be a good idea to supplement fish oil for cardiovascular support and a multivitamin in case not a lot of vegetables/fruit are consumed.

As far as protein powder – no you don’t have to consume it to build muscle as long as your daily protein requirements are met from other foods (chicken, Turkey, tuna, etc.). It should only be used as a substitute if the protein goal (roughly 0.8-1.2g per lb bodyweight) cannot be met for that particular day (let’s say you’re in a rush and can’t cook chicken).

Pre-workouts are in my opinion completely optional. Some people experience great results and get better focus/pump at the gym by using them. I don’t use pre-workouts because I don’t want to develop a caffeine dependency when I workout and I don’t like the tingles that you get from beta-alanine (another pre workout component). One strategy you can use is to only supplement pre workout on days when you absolutely cannot fathom going to the gym. In those rare cases in could be an effective tool to maintain consistency! Note that there are also caffeine-free pre workouts you can look into.


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