Kononov Gymnast

I was born and raised in the city of Donetsk, Ukraine. A miner's region. Powerful industry. Surrounded by mines, factories, factories, mines, and more mines ๐Ÿ˜. To put it briefly, how I perceived my environment: minimal emotions, maximum hard work.

I was enrolled in gymnastics at the age of 4. The choice was simple: I was an 'overly' active boy who had already broken his arm twice. The gym was right near our home. My aunt knew a coach there.

As a little boy, I was amazed by the gymnastics hall: large, with heaps of different apparatuses where you could hang, jump, swing โ€“ basically a 90s playland.

At first, we trained for two hours a day, and then, almost imperceptibly, we started training for six. I spent more time in the gymnastics hall than in school. I saw my coach more than my dad.

My childhood world was filled with strict discipline: white tank top, sports shorts, and a poker face. Then there were competitions, training camps, sports college, the youth national team, university of physical education, and so on...

Overall, I practiced competitive gymnastics for 19 years. Significant achievements:

๐Ÿ† Participated in over 100 competitions.
๐Ÿฅ‡ Became the Champion of Ukraine in Team.
๐Ÿฅˆ Silver medalist on parallel bars and high bar.
๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“ Earned a higher education degree, diploma in coaching.
๐Ÿค Made countless friends.

Gymnastics taught me:

๐Ÿ”ธ To control my body at a high level.
๐Ÿ”ธ To compete. To view competition as a part of life.
๐Ÿ”ธ To take a hit. To fall and get back up.

I can definitely say that gymnastics laid a solid foundation in my personality. But now I understand that it was only the beginning of the journey. More interesting things are ahead...

Kononov Fitness

The next stage of my life was associated with fitness, which I entered in 2007 and will stay with forever.

It started amusingly. I went to the gymnastics gym out of habit. I kept in shape, laughing with friends while discussing 'The Lord of the Rings' in the Goblin translation.

One day, I noticed a beautiful girl in the stands. It turned out to be a friend of one of the coaches in our gym. Olga Yurievna approached and said, 'Kononov, you're just sitting there wearing out your pants. Do you want to meet Olena? She conducts fitness training. She'll teach you how to do it, you can earn money, and get to know each other too.' It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

Although I was deeply immersed in professional sports, Olena taught me how to create and conduct group training sessions. Listening to music, moving, giving clients tips, smiling, and doing it all at once ๐Ÿคช

In 2007, fitness was booming in Donetsk. There were few male group trainers. Clients were girls. Colleagues were girls. Disco music. It wasn't work, it was pure joy.

I fell in love with fitness, worked hard, and learned everything I could get my hands on.

๐Ÿ† Before moving to Canada, I conducted over 2000 group and personal training sessions. In my classes, I saw how fitness motivates and energizes, makes people healthy and happy.

Fitness taught me to love my body and to take care of my health.
Fitness taught me to love my clients and help them become healthier.
I'm grateful to everyone who opened the world of fitness to me ๐Ÿ™

Kononovย Artist

I celebrated my 22nd birthday with great gymnastic skills, a strong work ethic, and an absolutely skewed sense of beauty :)
It was around this time that I received my first invitation from Cirque du Soleil.

To join the show, in addition to gymnastic skills, I had to master acting, dancing, singing, makeup, drumming...
For a guy from Donetsk, it was a real Challenge

Going through this was scary, awkward, embarrassing. It felt like breaking concrete walls of stereotypes and complexes in my head.
It wasn't easy, but the main thing was that the result was achieved โ€” I got my contract, and with it, a new meaning to what I had been doing since I was 4 years old.

Training in the studio and subsequent performances in the show completely turned my worldview upside down. I realized how important emotions are. That gymnastics can make someone cry from happiness. Fill them with energy. Inspire hope, a thirst for life.

Performing in the Alegria show, I did the High-Bar act. In short: at a height of 12 meters, some gymnasts fly, performing incredible tricks in the air, while others catch them and return them to the 'base.ย See it here ๐Ÿ‘ˆ It looks epic live.

At that time, the act had no parallels in the world. That is, we were the only people on planet Earth doing such crazy stuff with our bodies. I remember thinking after my first training session in the studio: 'Yo... is it even possible to do such stunts?' But later, I did it 8 times a week, 35 times a month, over 300 times a year. For years...

โญ๏ธ Overall, I performed on the Cirque du Soleil stage over 2000 times.
๐ŸŒ Traveled with the tour to over 50 countries and 148 cities.
๐Ÿคฉ The show was seen by over 5 million viewers during this time.

Then I understood that our body has great potential, 'tons' of unused resources. And that creating unreal things is possible.

Cirque du Soleil also revived my love for gymnastics, for which I am very grateful to the company.


Kononov Methodist

Waking up from anesthesia with a blurry vision, I fumbled for my phone and started calling my family. They say I was telling them about the approaching end of the world and how badly I wanted a drink ๐Ÿ™‚

I was operated on in Kyiv when the Alegria show arrived in Ukraine. It was the company's second attempt to enter our country's market.

I lay in the hospital bed as the anesthesia gradually wore off, and my shoulder started to ache. With the pain came the realization that after traveling through all of Western America ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ 47 cities, ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 49 cities, almost all of Europe ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ 42 cities, I missed performing in my homeland by just a few weeks. I had already performed for 3 million viewers, but I couldnโ€™t perform for the two most important ones - my parents. My throat went completely dry.

The show moved on, and I was left with the recovery process. My mood was combative. But a few weeks later, news came that the show was closing. Another realization hit me: my career in Alegria was over.

I accept it. Moving on.

I remember being astounded by the operation. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โš•๏ธ The doctor said, 'If you want to continue performing, itโ€™s better to change the attachment point of the long head of the bicep. Naturally, the muscle passes through the shoulder joint and attaches to the scapula, but for you, it will be attached with a biodegradable bolt to the humerus ๐Ÿคฏ I couldnโ€™t grasp how they fixed me up with bolts like a machine.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten the anatomy I learned at the Olympic reserve school and the institute of physical education. And just like you, I googled it. ๐Ÿ“œ I realized: knowledge you don't use disappears.

But what I went through and saw captivated me so much that I dove into anatomy for hours without food or sleep. I dug up all my institute notes, books, 3D apps on my phone. Knowledge became applicable, now firmly rooted in my life experience.

When I recovered and started working as a fitness trainer again, talking to other trainers, I realized that many of my fitness colleagues hadn't studied at the institute of physical education or missed in-depth courses in anatomy. They knew how to perform an exercise correctly, which muscles were the primary targets, but, for example, which muscles assisted, which stretched, which were responsible for stabilizing the body in that exercise, they didnโ€™t know.

At that time, fitness knowledge was usually acquired after short courses with other top trainers. The plus of such courses was that you quickly enter the profession, start working, and earn. The minus is that you work by templates 'as the guru said,' often without understanding why it has to be done that way. You can't deeply analyze an exercise or create new exercises, new training methods.

Then the idea arose to combine Anatomy with my experience in sports, fitness, Cirque du Soleil, and make an applied, interesting workshop on anatomy for fitness trainers.

I gathered all my thoughts, called Boris, a Methodologist Trainer from the Fitness Academy of Ukraine, where I studied. I proposed a meeting. At the meeting, I presented the program and suggested that he allocate me a few hours in his workshop for this topic. But he said he was ready to give me three days and make a separate workshop. That's how my teaching stage of life began. Thank you, Boris, thank you, Ania ๐Ÿ™

The main challenge was to make Anatomy Interesting, Bright, Fun. To make trainers fall in love with this topic.

By my internal estimates, the first workshop was boring, but people liked it, and I continued. I conducted over 15 workshops. The last one was like a rock concert ๐ŸคŸ Love happened. I was satisfied.

The main insight of this stage is that when you teach someone, you learn very well yourself. You dive deeply into the topic. We all did a great job at those workshops. This experience will help me a lot in the coming years in my second tour with Cirque du Soleil.

Kononov Club

A week from now, the Alegria show by Cirque du Soleil will resume its tour after the global lockdown. But I wonโ€™t.
This is my Instagram post from November 2, 2021, at 9:27 AM.

Iโ€™ve noticed that my life follows Olympic cycles and is connected to sports and challenges.

In 2009, joining Cirque du Soleil after my gymnastics career, I discovered an incredible world. A world that values what you do, provides everything needed for development, supports you when it doesnโ€™t work out, and loudly celebrates when there are results. Mastering the High-Bar act, I realized that human capabilities are limitless. I tested and believed in myself.

In 2013, I ended the tour, counting on a quiet life back home in Donetsk. A year later, I received another valuable lesson. Life is more complicated than my calculations. Sitting back and relaxing wasnโ€™t an option ๐Ÿ˜
The best strategy is always to be in shape, to react quickly and adequately to black-and-white surprises.

In 2018, the opportunity to be part of Alegria Show in new Light emerged. I was in shape. I reacted. Around the same time, I started sharing gymnastics and recovery training on my Instagram profile @kononov_oleksiy Things that fill my life.

The new tour taught me:
๐Ÿ”ธ To trust my skills and enjoy work.
๐Ÿ”ธ To test my spirit with a knee injury, my soul through meeting inspiring people.
๐Ÿ”ธ To respect what I do and share, so all these events were visible to my parents and you through stories and posts.

I already understood then that this was just a cycle.
The tattoo 'it won't always be like this' was already etched under my skin.

In 2020, on New Yearโ€™s in Miami, on the ocean shore, I set a goal to create an online gymnastics gym. To let go of all the beauty around me in two years and explore life as a free gymnast, coach, and entrepreneur.

The ocean heard. Accelerated.

In spring 2020, the tour stopped due to coronavirus. The High-Bar act was replaced in the show's program. The act, once unique in the world, became legendary.

In 2021, Kononov Club was born, the first online gymnastics club to help people recover, strengthen, and enjoy gymnastics.

2022 showed me, life is more complicated than my calculations.
Meaning, again itโ€™s time to take risks, learn new things, fall and get up.
Replacing the sentimental 'how good it was' with the exciting 'what's next?'

Because itโ€™s not that important whether itโ€™s 'better' or 'worse' there. What matters is, whatโ€™s there...

Are you with me?