The 2022 conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been the focus of the majority of the world lately. Many people feel for the people of Ukraine who are doing their best to defend themselves against the Russian invasion. body feels more compassion for the people there than Kyiv-born Viktoria Grygorian.
"It certainly wasn't easy," says Grygorian. "When 26 years of your life get wiped out and all you can do is watch, it wasn't easy."
Viktoria Grygorian came to the United States from Ukraine and felt connected to military service. Her father originally served in the Soviet Union. After Ukraine became its own country, he continued to serve for this nation. Victoria joined the armed forces in America for several reasons.
"I've always liked discipline, I've always liked people in uniform, and I grew up in it. My mother was a military nurse," she said. "When I came to the US, I saw men and women in different uniforms, not just in one branch, and just seeing how proud the people were in serving their country, I felt like I was in one of those uniforms."
This notion drove Viktoria Grygorian to make it a reality. After being turned down multiple times for being a student, she eventually received her green card and was able to join the Virginia National Guard in 2015 and complete her basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. This was not only a career choice for her, but also an expression of her gratitude.
"For me it was an opportunity to fulfill one of my dreams and give back to the country that welcomed me and gave me the opportunity to live a better life."
Joining the National Guard made sense for Grygorian as she already had a career in healthcare and felt she could best serve her country on American soil. She served from 2015-2021, earning multiple awards including the Army Fitness Badge, a Certificate of Appreciation for Service, and the Army Achievement Medal for exceptional service in providing leadership during annual training.
Courtesy of Viktoria Grygorian
Grygorian felt that one of the greatest gifts she received during her tenure was nothing material, but something more important to her - dedication to fitness. Before joining the military, she only focused on fitness by taking Zumba and bike classes. After becoming a member of the National Guard, she realized that being physically fit is part of the job.
“I looked very seriously at the fact that I need to be physically and mentally fit to help other soldiers should we ever end up on the battlefield. If you are weak, you will never be able to help your battle buddy in battle. You're taking the risk of losing both lives," she explained. Service and commitment to training gave her other gifts as well.
"I've developed more situational awareness and it has given me the foundation for more discipline in bodybuilding and fitness."
Viktoria Grygorian is someone who takes desires and commitments to the ultimate level. So training and fitness were great, but she wanted to take that to a new level by taking the stage. Her first competition was the 2017 NPC Max Muscle competition as a bikini competitor. She looked back on this moment with mixed feelings. Her family wasn't there to watch her compete, but there was something positive about that moment, too.
"I stood there and had the feeling that I belong here, that means I'm among like-minded people," she said proudly. "I was blown away to be present on stage and show the work done."
Courtesy of Viktoria Grygorian
Grygorian would eventually move from Bikini to Figure, gradually improving over the next three years. Her journey as an amateur competitor ended in late 2020 in Orlando, Florida where she earned her pro card - on the Olympic stage. She entered the amateur Olympics that year and ended up exiting with IFBB Pro League status. Despite many restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of shows in 2020, Grygorian found a way to achieve their goal.
“There was no food, no gym, no equipment, but we remodeled the first level of our home and used whatever we could. Bands, my body weight, everything we could train with, we did.”
The "we" she was referring to is her trainer Mike Davies, who helped her prepare for the competition, and her husband Tony Roberts. Coming from a military background himself, Tony has had several roles in the bodybuilding industry, including himself as a competitor and as a promoter of competitions. VIktoria now works alongside her husband in this promotional role. They work on several shows in the DMV area (DC, Maryland, Virginia) such as the NPC Armed Forces Nationals, the Ben Weider Natural Show and others. She also owns Fit & Furious, a company with a mission to support athletes. They also work with legendary promoter Gary Udit.
"I think the main aspect of organizing a competition of this scale is to give the athletes the best possible experience," she shared. "We let them understand that their sacrifice will be recognized and rewarded."
Her focus in recent weeks has clearly been on her homeland again. While Grygorian said her parents and sister are safe, there are still many members of her family that she cannot get updates about because there is no way to contact them. While she can't be there directly, she is working to raise money to send to local people so they can make the best of the situation they are in.
“I organized a GiveSendGo for freedom fighters. The money raised goes straight to the people there for them to use,” she said. “You will know that your donation is going to the right place. Anything that can be donated will make a huge difference.” If you would like to support the people of Ukraine you can do so by donating here or sharing the link with others who may wish to offer support.
Follow Viktoria @ladyviktoriag and @fitandfuriousllc on Instagram. She is also on Facebook with Viktoria Grygorian.