A chubby girl from Debrecen turned into a fitness competitor. Mária Hajdrik also fights for important goals as a coach

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Mária Hajdrik is a bodybuilder, fitness and bikini model from Debrecen, and this sport has been her love for more than twenty years. She started in a tough competition and achieved podium results. As a personal trainer, Marcsi works to make as many people as possible fall in love with exercise and fights against the stereotypes surrounding the world of bodybuilding.

You competed in fitness, bodybuilding and bikini model categories, then became a personal trainer. How did sports start in your life?

When I was a child, I was quite a chubby little girl, so I started doing aerobics at home, to the videotapes of Norbi Schobert, Ica Bíró, Réka Rubint and Cindy Crawford, among others. I only started going to the gym when I was a university student. One of my roommates and I went to Vezér Fitness, and there we first met weightlifting world champion Zoltán Kecskés. Zoli saw fantasy in us and “persuaded” us to compete. I was impressed, and my love for the sport has continued ever since. As a personal trainer, I try to pass on my acquired experience to my guests.

What are the achievements that you would highlight in your career?

My first competition in 2005 was the Women’s Fitness Forma Cup, where I placed 4th in the 160 cm category. Next, I would highlight the 2010 Brutal Challenge as a more significant result, where I took 7th place nationally. This category included bench presses, squats and biceps exercises. Perhaps many of you still remember, that in this competition, you didn’t have to go for the maximum weight, the emphasis was on the number of repetitions. In 2011, I became the Hungarian champion in fitness at the IFBB association, and in the same year, I achieved 2nd place in the European championship at the WBPF association. In 2011, I took 2nd place at the Austrian championship in Vienna. I finished on the podium in Timișoara, Nagyvár in fitness form and model. The difference between the two is that you don’t need to build as much muscle in the model as in the fitness form. In the bikini model category, make-up, hair, and stage movement also count.

Building muscle is important for one competition, but not so much for another. How did you decide which one to start in?

It is selected by your association because for some the model must be relatively muscular, wiry, or shapely, while for others less so. The INBA is a natural association, the girls there cannot be very muscular, but at the WBPF they allow it, and they also check whether the model has a defined body shape or not. We, on the other hand, observe the competitors during the on-site analysis, and with the help of the coach or escort, we can also determine in which category we should start.

Can you decide on the spot?

In a competition where we are aware of the entrants, yes. On-site entry is a bit simpler. But based on older pictures, you can tell who started in the model or fitness category.

Have you been training continuously since the 2000s?

Training has become constant, while racing has become a bit less frequent lately. The last time I started was last spring, and then I finished on the podium.

Did you feel any tension when you stood in front of an audience as a bikini model in a skimpy dress?

In the beginning, I did, and I didn’t even dare to look at the judges, I just looked over their heads. However, it is important to smile and maintain eye contact. But I got used to it over time because in this category the point is to show yourself.

Need to impress the jury?

Yes, mainly in the model. But also in bodybuilding, because first, the compulsory poses have to be presented, then the free pose, which can even be a dance routine.

When you started the sport, did you have a role model?

The aerobics videos inspired me a lot, and I wanted to look like the instructors. When I started weight training, I wanted to be like even more muscular girls. By the way, I have also read all of Schwarzenegger’s books.

But he is a man…

Yes, but the muscle must be developed in the same way for both sexes.

It’s been twenty years since you played sports, but what motivates you to go to the gym and compete?

To keep fit, in shape and healthy, and to be a part of getting more people to love this sport. For example, among young people, because these days it cannot be said that they regularly play sports. They prefer to sit in front of the machine, even though they could be doing something healthier. I would like to dispel the misconception that this sport is not for women.

Are you satisfied with your body?

No. But when I compete, I am satisfied with my competition form, because then my body is defined and my muscles are visible. Although I’m not on a diet now, I’m not saying I’m gaining weight either. It’s hard without fat coming up, and I don’t want that. I watch my food, but not as strictly as when I’m preparing for a competition.

Is a course necessary for personal training, or is it enough to have skills?

I have been a personal trainer since 2007 and I think it is good to have a course behind us. But, of course, some self-appointed trainers believe that training gives them the necessary knowledge because they also understand it. But this is not so. During a course, we learn the correct execution of the exercises, and quite important knowledge can also be acquired in the field of anatomy.

What is a good personal trainer?

On the one hand, they are competent, and on the other hand, they are empathetic, someone who understands the problems and needs of the guest. Then knows how to help with training and nutrition as well. Be honest and tell them what to eat, what exercises are important to do, and how long it will take for the guest to expect results. Of course, only if they obey what the coach tells them. Reassure them, but she also needs to be honest.

Do you prefer women or men to ask for your help?

Mostly women who want to lose weight. There are also guys who “just” want to get in shape, gain muscle, or whose primary goal is to keep fit.

How do you, personal trainers, stand on the issue of doping? There are plenty of trainers who represent an unnatural physique. If a customer comes to him, how can this thing be cleared up?

If someone wants to compete effectively, the use of doping agents is unfortunately unavoidable. I do not represent this direction, but a more serious competition result can be achieved without doping agents at most with natural associations.

(Not always there either, because the industry of performance-enhancing drugs is at least one, or even more, steps ahead of the doping inspectors – ed.)

Which of your guests’ achievements are you most proud of?

For those who, starting from scratch, have now made sports a part of their lives with my help. I am particularly proud of a lady in her twenties, she and her husband also fell in love with training.

How long is a cycle for you to train someone?

Such a project can be measured in months, but unfortunately, many people give up.

For what reason?

Their main argument is that they cannot devote as much time to it as they would like. Others take it to work, but some find it boring to work with weights. Of course, I try to vary the training so that we do different exercises, in different order, with different numbers of repetitions. But it doesn’t work for someone.

Are they not caught up in the wave of progression? How good does it feel to get stronger or to see a change in yourself?

I don’t know, but they also motivated me when I started. And that’s why I never stopped. Many times I really don’t even understand why they stop.

What are the misconceptions that hold women back from this sport? That you can’t eat after six or that they will be too muscular?

Perhaps these are the aspects, but these arguments can be defended. When eating after six in the evening, it is important what we eat. I eat even at ten in the evening, for example, meat, salad, boiled eggs, cottage cheese, and protein shakes. The point is to have protein-rich food and minimize carbohydrates and saturated fats. Due to her hormonal balance, a woman cannot be very muscular in the first place, because her body’s testosterone content is a fraction compared to a man’s.

You mentioned that most women who want to lose weight come to you. Are they achieving their goals?

Many people approach weight loss with the idea that they want to lose weight from the stomach or buttocks. But it won’t work that way, because you can’t burn fat locally. If the person goes into a caloric deficit, then the fat will decrease from all parts of the body, the only question is who will lose it from where first. For the luckier ones, from the stomach, but there will also be people like me, whose upper body is the first to lose the excess. But over time it will decrease in all areas, you just have to be patient and persistent.

Is there a bigger rush expected after the Christmas holidays?

More people always come down to the gym in January, but some start already in September because of the start of school. Many people make up their minds then and unfortunately give up after two or three months.

Do you think it just takes persistence?

When someone doesn’t have the inner motivation to train, I try in vain to persuade them not to give up. If he is not motivated by change, the joy of movement, because he prefers to watch TV at home, then I cannot persuade him to exercise. Maybe he’s persistent in another sport and would rather do it, he just hasn’t figured it out yet.

What do you think about the general fitness of Hungarian people? Has it improved lately?

We have been at the forefront of the ranking of the obese for a long time, and unfortunately, I don’t see any improvement in this. There are initiatives, such as the daily gym class or the healthy canteen, but these have not brought improvement either. Many obese children are used to eating fast food, chips, cola and pastries. They are very hard to get off and addictive.

If someone is defining himself now, how can you encourage him to apply to you?

By persevering for at least a few months and then you will see the results. Then he too will be inspired by the change.

How do you calculate the amount of nutrients you take in?

I don’t measure carbohydrates, protein and fat per gram either. Based on the mirror and the body weight, I can see, and monitor any changes, and if I start to gain fat, I take back the carbohydrates and the fat. This is how I try to keep my weight under control.

Even if you don’t measure, do you know roughly how much of the macronutrients you’re taking in?

I try to keep the protein around 2 grams per kilogram of body weight, and I take in minimal amounts of fat and oil. I prefer to use coconut or olive oil, and I often steam the meat without fat, together with the vegetables.

What does your daily diet look like?

For breakfast, I eat two measuring spoons, about 60 grams of oatmeal, and 30 grams of a protein shake with fruit. During the day, I usually eat chicken, turkey, or fish with vegetables or rice, divided into three meals every hour. For dinner, I prefer low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, meat and salad.

Karina Kecskés from Debrecen broke several national records at the weightlifting European Championships

Do you also use supplements?

Yes, in addition to the protein shake, it also contains BCAAs, multivitamins, omega-3, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc.

When should a person who wants to lose weight schedule a cheat meal?

If we do eat cheating, then only after training, but not regularly, and especially not at the beginning.

What do you think about intermittent fasting, which is very fashionable these days?

I haven’t tried it, and I don’t believe in it. I still practice old-school bodybuilding, which involves continuous filling and eating every three to four hours.

If someone wants to look good in the summer, when should they start working out?

This is difficult to say because you have to see the individual. How much fat you should lose depends a lot on your body composition. And if the situation is not so dire, you need to gain muscle first. But I say that those who want summer beach shape should start training already in winter.

Translated from Rontó Judyt and Szilágyi Szabolcs article on the Debreceni Nap page.

Photos: Debrecen Nap, private archive, csakisti.hu, gym.hu

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