Jelena Petelinkar is an international award winning Fitness Model and Personal Trainer, and has successfully been in the Fitness and Health industry for the last seven years.
This Dubai based Double European Champion in Fitness has a deep passion for helping and inspiring individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle as well as maintain a variety of workout regimes that is appealing to a wide variety of clientele. She has a huge fan base due to her success with clients, fitness competitions and through her modelling career.
What inspired you to become a professional personal trainer and fitness model?
Ever since I was a young girl I have always been passionate about sports and physical activities, and I have found that I felt so much better about myself when I exercise. Early on in my career I had also decided to compete in several fitness competitions with the careful guidance of my trainer, and through this venture I started to receive a lot of inquiries about fitness modelling work. At the time it wasn’t something that I ever thought I would be good at or something that I would be interested in. But after a few shoots I found it to be very enjoyable, fun and rewarding. Together, both personal training and being a fitness model, has helped me to empower individuals to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet as it can do so much for their physique and self-confidence.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing is that when I wake up in the morning I don’t feel like I am going to work. I find it fulfilling to help people to achieve their personal fitness goals and if I can help bring a smile on their face when they look at themselves in the mirror I know I did a great job. Seeing the difference I can make to a person’s life makes me feel happy and proud. To me it isn’t just about changing a client’s physical appearance but also enhancing their mental wellbeing which makes them feel more content in their personal life. Seeing these positive changes and receiving feedback from my clients gives me the motivation and enthusiasm to continue doing what I do and work harder. This in turn motivates me to stay healthier and keep challenging myself to do better.
“I work-out six days a week, and start out with one hour of boxing in the morning, forty to sixty minutes of circuit/interval training or cardio in the afternoon, and then one and a half hours of Bikram Yoga in the evening”
What are some of the challenges you face in your job?
The biggest challenge is to motivate people to start and to be consistent with their exercise regime. To me, personal training is not just a one hour session, but it is also a Life Coaching session as it is very difficult to change the client’s lifestyle and habits especially in a fast paced place like Dubai. I am always available to my clients 24/7, and help them to make better food choices based on their dietary requirements as nutrition is a very important aspect to achieving their goals.
How do you prepare for a fitness modelling and personal training session?
I follow a special diet and workout regime for fitness competitions and modelling projects. I usually prepare for fitness competitions 12-14 weeks ahead and become quite strict about my diet. During this time I add special formulas to my food and increase my workout from one session per day to two times per day, during which I do a mix of cardio, weights and practice Bikram Yoga three times a week.
To prepare for the personal training sessions I always make sure to complete a thorough assessment of what the individual wants to achieve and together we set short and long term goals. I also keep in mind the client’s dietary needs as those are unique to their age, weight, activity level, health status, cultural variance and how stressful their work and personal environment is. I also like to keep myself updated with the use of forums, magazines and fitness expert blogs to ensure I have a variety of exercises at my disposal to avoid repetition which can make the client bored and demotivated.
Taking into account all of these factors, I develop a comprehensive nutritious diet and exercise program that fits the client’s lifestyle to help them achieve their fitness goals.
How long have you been living in the UAE for and how long have you been a personal trainer and fitness model?
I am originally from Serbia and have been in the UAE since 2012. I have been a personal trainer for the last seven years and currently I am an advanced personal trainer at Fitness First in Dubai.
I started my fitness modelling career when I was 18 years old, where my trainer saw my progress and dedication and registered me for my first fitness competition in Serbia. During my first competition I came in third place after which I competed for the European Championship where I took first place and I came in first again in 2013. Ever since 2009 I still have the motivation and passion for fitness competitions.
What is your current exercise routine?
I usually like to plan my workout schedule one week in advance as I love doing a variety of things but I have a tight work schedule between personal training and modelling. So right now I work-out six days a week, and start out with one hour of boxing in the morning, forty to sixty minutes of circuit/interval training or cardio in the afternoon, and then one and a half hours of Bikram Yoga in the evening. This keeps me motivated and rejuvenated for the week.
What keeps you motivated?
I believe in motivating myself and I feel even more motivated when my clients work so hard to perfect their health and that just fuels my passion to look and feel good about myself.
As human beings our bodies keep changing and get used to the work out that we do which is why I like to constantly vary my exercise routine.
Are you a healthy eater?
I have been eating healthy and clean food for the last five years. I don’t eat any junk food as it has zero nutrition and doesn’t add any value to my overall health. I like to eat six times a day; out of which three meals are snacks and the other three are proper meals. My usual meals consist of broccoli, salmon, eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and quinoa. My snacks usually consist of energy bars, protein shakes and nuts. Overall, I like to feed my body healthy and nutritious meals as I truly believe that you are what you put into your body.
What is your favourite meal?
In one word ‘Sushi!’ I just love it.
Give us your best exercise tip?
Well, I have three great tips; the first is to plan. I believe in planning in advance. I understand that we are all very busy in Dubai and so if we plan and get ourselves organised we make it a habit which in turn makes it a lifestyle. As someone once said ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!’
The second tip is to stay motivated. You can do that by inviting friends, family members and co-workers to join you when you exercise. That way you can stay motivated while keeping each other accountable to stay committed to the
The third tip is to try new things as you get demotivated when you are bored. So the best things to do is find a new sport or fun activities that you would enjoy. The variety will keep you on your toes and you might even discover a hidden athletic talent. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring and when you are having fun you are more likely to stick with a fitness program.
What is the one piece of advice you would give the people of UAE?
I always tell my clients “If your workout doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you!” which is why it is very important to try and stay motivated, be healthy and positive in your life. Try and challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone and only then will you see the magic of what your body is capable of.