This week in the “Queers You Should Know” series, I’m introducing you to lesbian fitness model and WNBF Bikini Pro, Ruslana Sokolovskaya.
Ruslana was born in Siberia and raised in Moscow. She immigrated to the US, learned to speak fluent English, met the woman of her dreams, and became a professional bodybuilder in 4 years. Meanwhile, I was over here watching Netflix and pretending to be Beyonce in my bathroom mirror.
Hey Ruslana, tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I am originally from Moscow, Russia. Now live in Brooklyn. I came to America less than 4 years ago as a tourist and never went back home. In my head I always divide “life before America ” and “life after I came to America”.
I started a completely new life here as a different person. I came with a pair of jeans, sweatpants and few t-shirts. I had nothing or no one here. I immediately came out of closet and realized there’s no way back for me, there’s no life for me back there in Russia. I could not work in my career as a gay person. I will never be accepted or supported there. So here I am.
You came to America with just a backpack? That’s insane. How were you able to stay in the US?
I actually applied for asylum status with the US government. Being gay is illegal in Russia so I could not go home without facing legal consequences. I’m in the US legally now as a political refugee.
We see all sorts of negativity in the media about LGBT issues in Russia, is that true to your experience?
It is difficult to be gay in Russia. Not only difficult but simply impossible. There’s no life for gay people. We don’t have rights. You cannot get married, have kids or have normal life. You will be discriminated against.
Obviously my close friends from home, they all love me and have no problem with me being gay but not all people I know from Russia are cool with it or supportive.
Honestly,I didn’t come out until I came to US. I was too afraid. In the US my identity does not impact my career. I truly believe it is all about being professional and having great work ethic. Bad attitude or lack of skills,- that’s what can impact your career. I could never be out at work in Russia. It would just be impossible.
I’ve been in the US for 4 years and can’t go back to Russia until I become an American citizen. I have to wait another three years to apply for citizenship and then it’s still a long process. I wouldn’t believe a lot of what they are showing on TV because it is shown from another culture’s point of view. Overall there’s no life for gay people in Russia, in my personal opinion. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.
You’re a professional body builder… how the heck did that happen?
I’ve always been very athletic but seriously got into weight lifting thanks to my girlfriend Sherri Mikus. She’s a retired professional basketball player that now runs a popular NYC gym. She introduced me to the life of fitness. In December of 2013, I hardly squatted 65lbs by October of 2014 I went all the way up to 225lbs which I’m very proud of.
Damn girl, I’d be proud of that shit too. I get tired carrying my suitcase. Congratulations on winning your Pro Card this past year, that’s incredible. Can you tell us a bit about the journey?
Thank you! In 2014 I competed in 4 bikini fitness competitions and placed in all of them. By the end of the year I earned my Pro Card and competed in my first Professional show In November. My debut was at the WNBF World Championships.
JEESH, no pressure.
I placed 5th. Honestly, I was disappointed with my placement. I’m a very competitive person. It was a good accomplishment overall. I’m letting my body recover and focusing on other projects before I get back to the stage.
I mean… Let’s be real. 5th in the world isn’t bad… I get it though. We tend to be our own worst critics. How do you design your workouts when you’re on the go? Any tips for travelers?
My first year honestly I was trained by my girlfriend Sherri and was strictly following her training programs. Now with the skills and knowledge I have I can make a workout in few minutes depending on my current goal.
For travelers the main tip would be – Don’t make being on the road an excuse. Heck, one time I used a block of wood for strength training while I was vacationing on a ski trip.
You can do a full body workout just using a towel. It is very possible to work out in a hotel room, outside or in a hotel gym.
If you ned any help I can always help with creating a customized workout and nutrition program, even if you don’t have access to the gym equipment.
Damn, I should take you up on that offer. You’re definitely #fitspo worthy. You mentioned that you’re taking time off to work on other opportunities. What do you have going on?
Hahahaha thanks! Well…I just got a contract with a fitness modeling agency.
WHAT? That’s amazing!! You should have led with that detail… haha
hahahaha Thank you. I’m currently focusing on acting and modeling. That is the field I always wanted to be in. I’ve been wanting to be a professional actress since I was 9 years old. Acting is something I did back in Russia and I am happy about getting back into it here in US. I have several shoots in the near future. I’ll be doing a couple commercials, a short film, and a bunch of photo shoots. I can’t really disclose specific information yet, but you will be the first to know.
Girl I better hear this from you and not in a press release! 😉 So are you still in the fitness industry? What’s happening with that?
Yes! Of course. I’m a fitness model. It’s my passion and what I love to do. I still love to help people with their fitness goals and creating training and nutrition plans as well. Don’t worry, I’ll be getting back on the Fitness stage and competing this summer.
I’m pumped to see how far you can go. You’re an inspiration to a lot of people Ru, what advice would you give to folks aspiring to be in your position?
GRIND! Go for what you want. You have nothing to lose so don’t fear anything. There’s nothing scary in living your dream, quite the opposite. So don’t give up on your dreams. 🙂
Want to hear more from Ruslana or hit her up for a workout plan? Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram. Like this interview? Check out more in the Queers You Should Know series.