Friends Toast ‘Anush’ to Olympia Studio

In front of family and friends, Dr. Victor Chakarian celebrated recently the seven-year anniversary of his Olympia Studio. On a cold evening, the owner of the Milpas Street gym savored the moment with true Armenian flavor, music, conversation and spirit.

Toasts were made with cold Russian vodka, clients enjoyed 25-year-old brandy and on the main table was a bounty of traditional Armenian dishes provided by International Deli and Market on Hollister Avenue. Platters of barbequed lamb, pork and spiced sausage were surrounded by roasted vegetables, smoked fish and pickled tomatoes and parsley salad provided by Victor’s mother. An unknowing visitor would not have thought the occasion to be a business celebration, but a gathering of close friends and family; and that was exactly what Victor wanted – everyone together in one room to share with him that special moment.

Victor’s brusque exterior brands him a tough persona. But those attending the party, his friends and clients from the inaugural years of business, know he is a tenderhearted guy. He values loyalty and honesty, and he choked up while toasting the crowd.

Victor moved to Santa Barbara in 1991, many years after being an integral part of the Soviet Union sports machine that dominated the world in two separate decades. He was the head of the strength and conditioning coaches for the Soviet National Team and was also the head of the Scientific Support Group, which explored new ways to improve performance for Soviet athletes.

When he moved to the U.S., Victor brought with him a structured fitness philosophy based on rigorous training and extreme discipline. He has a Ph.D. in sports science from the Russian Sports Science University and certifications in biomechanics, nutrition and kinesiotherapy. He continues to stay abreast in the booming fitness world by traveling to the former Soviet Union to help rebuild the nation’s athletic program. Victor is also working on his doctoral degree in natural health medicine through Clayton College of Natural Health.

He and his team at his 2,000-square-foot gym on Milpas Street have trained everyone from professional tennis and polo players to aspiring young golfers and their parents. Says Montecito’s Ken Lebow of the program, “I need it, I hate it, but I love it.”

At the gym, Victor utilizes his specialty, kinesiotherapy, a training method that helps clients who have suffered injuries restore their strength and mobility. “I came in with arthritis and I am now stronger and more flexible and I am able to enjoy my grandchildren and friends,” says Pat Craddock, who has trained at Olympia for the past four years.

Olympia Studio is not a gym crammed with machines and gadgets, but rather a studio that relies on the expertise of its trainers, whose philosophy align with Victor’s: to help clients achieve their fitness goals and provide them with an enhanced quality of life. On hand at the anniversary evening was Victor’s training staff: Marianna Sarkisova, Erin Wessely and Steve Blocker.

”I consider you all my friends and I love you,” Victor said during the reception.