Certified Personal Trainer: Meet Ventisislav Yankov Pursuing his goal in helping others find their confidence, inner strength

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Finishing another hard workout session, senior Ventisislav Yankov studies his side triceps after training shoulders and arms. Beginning his junior year, Yankov began to start taking the gym seriously and working out to improve the way his body looked. “I remember the best memory of my training experience when I benched 225 pounds, which was my goal for six months,” Yankov said. “I failed that benchmark three times before that and when I finally hit it, I felt very happy.” Photo Credit: Ventisislav Yankov

Naila Yazdani

Sweat dripping down his body as he lifts the weights, senior Ventisislav Yankov pushes himself to achieve his personal body goals. 

Yankov was not always the fit and athletic individual he is today. He, like most trainers, struggled at first. 

“The thing that probably broke me into the mindset of working out would be when one of my childhood friends from Bulgaria who was already working out, saw how I looked without a t-shirt and told me to go eat a burger,” Yankov said. “As I kept working out and training my body, I realized how much I love it, and slowly after that, I thought to myself, why not pursue it as a career and actually work in that industry. So I started doing research and asking other personal trainers how to become one.”

Looking at his progress and areas for improvement after every workout, Yankov rigorously trains to be the best version of himself. 

“I look at myself in the mirror and see what I need to work on,” Yankov said. “For example, I think my arms are small for my physique and I think that if they are bigger I’ll look better. That is why I focus a lot on them so I bring them up. Another weak point of mine is my chest. It also depends on the day. Some days I feel better about myself, other days I feel like I haven’t made any progress.”

Getting his inspiration from teenage bodybuilder Anthony Mantello, Yankov began taking bodybuilding seriously after he watched a video where Mantello was prepping for a competition and following a strict diet given by his trainer. 

“Most of the time, even though people think it’s bad, I compare myself to fitness influencers on Instagram, to the people that inspire me and the people I want to look like,” Yankov said. “My biggest inspiration is David Laid and I want to look like him. Other people I compare myself to are Lexx Little and Anthony Mantello. People see it as a bad trait, but I see it as motivation. If someone looks better than me I want to look as good or better than them.”

Becoming a personal trainer is a somewhat lengthy process. Taking the actual course either online or in-person can take up to three months to prepare for the exam, moving on to setting up the appointment and hopefully passing, to then receive the certification. 

“Throughout the months of working towards the course, the hardest part was definitely studying for the actual exam because it was a lot of information I needed to know,” Yankov said. “Another challenge was doing the actual course because I had to balance school, work, personal life and actually doing my course.” 

Yankov didn’t always have the ability to practice in an equipped gym and it took a lot more practice for him to earn the certification that he wanted. NASM, the certification that Yankov has, is one of the most difficult to earn. There are a variety of companies, such as ISSA, that offer certificates as well. 

“First, I started off in my apartment complex gym where I used to live. I was very inconsistent and didn’t really know what I was doing,” Yankov said. “My family and I moved into a house at the beginning of the pandemic and all I had was a pull-up bar. That’s when I was very serious and consistent but didn’t have that much equipment. When we started school again in my junior year, I decided to get a gym membership and started working out every day. That is when I made most of my progress and got most of the knowledge I have today.”

His biggest insecurity being his arms, Yankov tends to work on them more and dedicates two days specifically to his arms to work on them. Additional weak points being his chest and legs, Yankov has put aside ample time to work on his insecurities to feel better about them.

“I was honestly insecure about my body, was very skinny, and was made fun of,” Yankov said. “People would call me a twig or tell me that they would break me in half. The moment I came back to Vegas I started working out. At first, I was very dedicated but then I stopped a little as my motivation went away. I picked it back up at the beginning of junior year and I haven’t stopped working out since then.”

Yankov’s mental health over the time span of him evolving into the strong and fit person he is today displays a great deal of resilience as the process was not easy.

“The biggest challenge that I’ve personally had is honestly the mental,” Yankov said. “It’s the motivation and your self-esteem. If you ask any person that works out they can all agree that they’ve all struggled with body image at some point in their journey. When you start working out you get that mentality that nothing is ever enough. There’s always going to be a person bigger than you and stronger than you. So it’s this constant chase of something you can’t really achieve.” 

Yankov, along with other trainers, has a direct priority to their clients in hopes to help them fulfill their goals. Witnessing his clients succeed is one of the most enjoyable parts of personal training for Yankov.

“I hope that my clients reach all of their goals both in the gym and outside the gym,” Yankov said. “It’s really cool because as you train different people you build a connection with them and get to know them on a personal level. So, when they tell you that they have accomplished something, you are happy. I work at the gym, I get to help others, I get to see them grow and achieve their goals which is so important to me. The best feeling in the world is when your client makes progress and they are happy at where there are at.”

Training six times a week for about an hour and a half each time, Yankov is able to reach his goal of helping his clients achieve what they want and the way they want to.

“I first talk to the client to see what their goals are,” Yankov said. “I briefly explain to them what they need to aim for and what we are going to do during the workout. After that, I demonstrate each exercise we do and then make them do it themselves. The session is usually about an hour. Of course, the main restriction is that most people don’t like being touched. When you work out, a simple touch on the muscle that needs to be worked improves the exercise much more as it helps with the mind to muscle connection.” 

Ultimately, Yankov wants to continue working with people and helping them reach their goals.

“This is what I love doing and want to pursue it as a future career,” Yankov said. “I think there is a lot of room for growth and I think I could be pretty successful. I actually just got hired for a personal training job at EOS Fitness and I’m going to be starting as a front desk and then move to a salesman over the summer to really get to learn the industry and get some experience. After about six months, I’ll start as a personal trainer there since I’m only 18 at the moment and close to no one has finished the course as fast as me so I have a huge head start.”