For the last 18 months or so I've been working out six or seven days per week with ElkY and our trainer, Lincoln. I first ran into them during EPT London in October 2011, when ElkY was training for his boxing fight with Lex Veldhuis. I had just spent four weeks in Ukraine and put on a lot of weight while I was there. It kind of upset me. When ElkY invited me to go work out with them, I said, "Yeah, sure. That sounds great. I'd love to try it out. I can certainly use some company and some professional training."
At the time I had a hidden motivation. I had a chance to be on a pretty big reality show in Ukraine. They say the camera adds 15 pounds, and I already felt like I was overweight. I wanted to shed some pounds in a hurry, to be ready in case I got on the show.
Anyway, I joined them for a really great workout and had a great time. I didn't know ElkY very well at that time but I got along with him and Lincoln really well. They asked me if I would like to train with them again when we were in Cannes for the WSOP Europe. I jumped at the chance.
That progressed and snowballed into something much larger. I've become great friends with ElkY and Lincoln since then. And Lincoln is an amazing trainer. I've had some good trainers in my life but he's just on a different level. His knowledge about sports nutrititon, the body, and what you should and shouldn't eat, is unparalleled in my opinion.
Once I started seeing the results in myself, I was so impressed I really wanted to stick with it. I would tell Lincoln what my goal was, where I'd like to see myself, and he would plan out the physical training plan and a nutritional plan.
The nutrition has been a big part of it for me. Food used to control a part of my life in a very unhealthy way. I couldn't control my cravings as much as I'd like. But I've definitely got them under control now, and overall I'm just eating much healthier.
This exercise and nutrition program has improved many things in my life. Besides just feeling great and being generally happier, I almost never get sick anymore. If I do, it's for one or two days maximum. Everyone tells me that I look five years younger now than I did two years ago. I also find I don't need as much as food to fill up as I used to, which means I don't usually feel like crap anymore.
My goals have always been to get healthy and stay fit. I don't want to be a bodybuilder. I just want to stay fit and healthy. It's possible for anyone to do it if they work hard at it, even a poker player. Obviously I'm not a professional athlete, but I've shed more than 30 pounds and brought my body fat percentage down to single digits. These are weights and fat percentages where I've never been in my whole life.
The funny part about all of this is that I found out that I wasn't going to get onto the Ukrainian reality show about three weeks into training with ElkY and Lincoln. My initial motivation to get in shape fizzled out very quickly. Yet here I am, 18 months later, feeling the best I've ever felt.
Who says TV is unhealthy?
Eugene Katchalov is a member of Team PokerStars Pro