While packing my gym bag, sorting out my trainers and workout clothing, I find myself reflecting on how sports makes us into universal fighters. Today is yet another day to fight for my dreams. Today is yet another day to walk into the gym and do my best to boost my stamina. This is the way to attain top athlete results in life too. On such days I’m grateful for the chance I had to realize early enough that sports is one of the most powerful generators of personality traits. I also reflect on what makes amateur athletes so motivated and aspiring in the absence of external incentives such as a competition. Of all possible reasons, the one that easily comes to my mind is that sports helps us learn how to be strong and enduring, and how to leave our comfort zone daily. It teaches us how to be satisfied even with the smallest of triumphs of mind over body.

When the Student is ready, the Teacher will appear, they say. I was lucky enough to meet Ina and her philosophy of life and workouts at an early stage. It’s difficult to describe a person like her; in a word, she is multilayered. Ina has been my coach and teacher for over 10 years now and thanks to her, I survived a failure or two in my life, ending up as a winner. Because sports makes us strong, disciplined and resilient. It simultaneously improves our bodies, intellect and our interaction with other people. It makes us team players.

Ina Georgieva holds the sports title of Master of Sports in Bulgaria, but she’s far too modest to stress that fact. She took up sports when she was 6: swimming, track and field, volleyball. She used to be the captain of the women’s national volleyball team. She graduated from Chavdar Sports School and the National Sports Academy, Kinesiotherapy Faculty. Apart from being an unrivaled coach, Ina also has an encyclopedic mind. Well-versed, inquisitive, and capable.

To a professional like Ina, sports is like the air, she simply can’t live without it. It’s her profession, her passion and her way of life. Ina claims that one has to have natural aptitude for coordinated movement, but all other athletic qualities are polished in the gym, in the stadium, or in the swimming pool. Day after day, tirelessly, no excuses. Interestingly, Ina believes that everybody is able to improve their physical condition and health by exercising in the right way. She has seen plenty of metamorphoses taking place in the gym. It all depends, however, on the set goals, on perseverance, and last but not least, on the coach’s professionalism. It occurred to me that whenever we need to find good doctors, we first try to obtain information about their experience, qualification and specialization field, etc. This is how we should act with coaches too, because we entrust our bodies to their care long-term. After all, what matters most in sports is to preserve our health so that we can upgrade and further shape our physique.

Ina’s approach to the people visiting her gym is the same as that to professional athletes. We often joke that she reminds us of great Neshka Robeva, former coach of Bulgarian top rhythmic gymnasts. Ina is demanding and dislikes attempts at underperformance in individual elements or exercises during workouts. She insists that we don’t spare ourselves, because if we do in the gym, this pattern tends to be multiplied in life and work as well. I’ve always wondered why top coaches are usually sparing of praise. It’s simple: professional coaches are focused on keeping track of any dysfunctional workout processes so that they can be corrected and better results can be achieved. This is constructive criticism that leads up to improved capacity and ultimately to medals. This is why professional athletes have learned to endure and embrace criticism, their sole purpose being to make progress, while professional coaches either offer no praise or offer it rarely.

It seems though that the girls in the gym have something to teach Ina too: mostly moderation and patience, qualities that she appreciates. Moderation in her demands, and patience, recognizing that we are amateurs after all. In any case, achieving good results implies at least 4 workouts a week, proper nutrition and a clear target. There’s really no way to be both good-looking, or successful, and lazy. It takes efforts and perseverance until workouts become a habit, necessity and pleasure. Only then good results show up. You need to pursue them!

I asked Ina to summarize the top 3 reasons that she thinks would make anyone start exercising. Below are the three most important incentives:

1. Sports means disease prevention.
2. Regular workouts help build up personality traits that are useful in all areas of successful life.
3. And last but not least: sports contributes to the attractiveness of one’s appearance, which is of course of particular concern to women!

If people want fulfilled lives, they need to simultaneously improve the abilities of their minds, bodies and souls. If we focus on a single ability, neglecting others, there’s no way to experience harmony and satisfaction. Because we will lack stable construction. What I also learned from Ina is that professional sports may go hand in hand with intellect and there’s no such thing as “dumb athlete”. Everybody could prove narrow-minded, athlete or not. And everybody could be great, if they invest lots of efforts in what they do. So, lace up your trainers, my dear friends, and go that extra mile as true champions, because medals are awarded at the finals, and only for achievements.