1. Bold Beginnings
3. Early Signs
Most babies at the age of three months are just starting to explore and develop their motor skills. However, by then, Varya Akulova was something of an infant prodigy as she was already demonstrating an extraordinary attribute for such a young child. Months before the expected age, baby Varya was reportedly able to pull herself up into a standing position. And by the time she was one, Varya exhibited a great display of strength in her hands and arms. Her parents were blown away. It appeared that Varya did, in fact, possess the family’s legendary strength, but it didn’t end there.
4. Surprise From The Start
5. Family Business
As the first few years of young Varya’s life went by it became more and more apparent to her parents that her strength was growing. Although her father Uri had initially dreamed of a father-son act, it was now clear to him that a family and father-daughter act was their destiny. So in 1995, at the age of just three, Varya Akulova joined the circus with her parents. Varya mainly stuck to gymnastics and acrobatics routines, while her folks performed feats of strength under the big top. Incredibly, though, Varya wasn’t far behind.
6. Circus ‘Strongfam’
7. Weightlifting Wonderkid
As she continued to get older, Varya made more of a name for herself as she started participating in weightlifting competitions. By the mere age of seven, she could lift two heavy kettlebells off the ground, but that wasn’t all. While most fathers are still carrying their young children at Varya’s age, she could carry her (very muscular) father! Varya’s ability to lift her father on her back was a crowd pleaser at shows and by the next year, she’d manage to set a world record!
8. World Record Holder
10. Overcoming Hardships
Life was quite difficult in Ukraine in the 1990s. Like many of their fellow countrymen, the Akulova family faced hardships as the country’s economy was in shambles. Work was scarce and inflation was high, as the nation had just received its independence. And while the family was regularly busy traveling across the country with their circus act, Varya was only making about the equivalent of about $10 a day. So, despite her family’s growing fame, they had to take some fairly extreme measures.
11. Tight Quarters
12. In The Face Of Fear
The drunk men hollered at Varya and made faces at her all the while trying to block her way, but there was no obstacle for the brave young Varya, who showed no signs of backing down. Unperturbed by the two grown men, she proceeded to teach them a lesson they’d never forget. Varya was just a young child at the time of the incident, but she tapped into her incredible strength to grab the pestering men by the legs and throw them on the ground. They never bothered her again after that, but still, her parents decided a change was in order.
13. Moving On
14. Strength Of Mind
Even though she won the record for world’s strongest girl, Varya Akulova’s wasn’t just a top performer in the gyms and circus. In fact, in spite of all the obstacles she had to face during her childhood, Varya Akulova was also a top student. By the time she was three she could read, and as a schoolgirl, she amazed her teachers and parents with her accelerated math and reading skills. She was also able to keep her grades up and mental abilities sharp at the same time she was training. As the years went on, however, her life would take another surprising turn.
15. Moving On Up
16. International Star
Varya was now able to train at home, as her family had space to set up a home gym. It seemed her strength wasn’t wavering at all with her age, and by the time she was nine, she could lift both of her parents on her back. By age 10, Varya was making international appearances and could be seen on Russian TV wowing viewers with acts like laying flat between two chairs and easily supporting the weight of both of her parents (about 352 pounds), who sat on her legs and stomach. Varya’s father said by the time his daughter was 12 she was stronger than him. Soon, the family would expand their fame yet again.
17. Muscles And Media
18. Another World Record
In the year 2006, the 14-year-old circus performer and strongwoman amazed the world when she managed to lift more than 660 pounds, more than four times her body weight! For this incredible accomplishment, Varya again earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. As just a teenager, she again claimed the title for the world’s strongest girl. However, weightlifting wasn’t the one discipline she had mastered. Varya was also trained in acrobatics, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and juggling. But you wouldn’t have expected just how she did this.
19. Family Secret
20. Holding Some Back
According to Varya’s father, she only used about three-quarters of her full strength to minimize the risk of injury. That meant that she was capable of taking on even more than the amount of weight she lifted in performances. Varya could lift the same amount of weight of a large vending machine, and that wasn’t even her maximum capacity! While Uri closely supervised his daughter’s techniques and crowds cheered on Varya and her parents, not everyone was as impressed.
22. Skeptics Of Strength
Along with naysayers who suggested that Varya should learn how to cook and sew instead of training in athletics, other skeptics speculated about whether it was detrimental for Varya’s health to do such rigorous training at such a young age. Furthermore, others wondered whether her demonstrations of strength could all be a hoax, and whether she was actually capable of lifting such heavy weight. When Varya’s parents took her to the doctor to settle the matter once-and-for-all, the results were shocking.
23. And The Results Are…
24. Anatomical Anomaly
Varya had been regularly examined by doctors several times a year throughout her childhood to make sure her strength training regimen wasn’t stunting her growth in any way or causing any harm to her growing bones and organs. And although she didn’t have an overtly bulky physique, doctors eventually found that Varya’s muscles were somewhat different in alignment from the average woman and perhaps this allowed her to gain more muscle fibers than average. However, that wasn’t the only controversy the family faced.
25. Dashed Olympic Hopes?
26. A New Addition
As the former world record holder for the world’s strongest girl, strength training was the only lifestyle Varya Akulova knew. Throughout her teen years, she kept training, but when she was 17 her family life changed and inevitably so did her life. In 2007, Varya’s parents welcomed another child, younger sister Barbara. Barbara was soon following in her strong older sister’s footsteps and could reportedly lift her father off the ground by the age of five. But that wasn’t all.
27. Where’d She Go?
28. Studies Over Circus
Fans may have expected the two-time Guinness World Records winner Varya Akulova to go into adult bodybuilding or a similar career pursuit after her youth. However, she went to college and had to cut back on the performing and touring with the circus for her university schedule. Throughout her whole childhood, Varya proved that she could do the incredible when she put her mind to it, and it wasn’t any different with her college studies. While Varya used to wow the crowds as a wonderchild, these days her life has undergone something of a transformation.
29. Juggling Act
30. True Feelings
Unlike many other child stars, Varya Akulova surprisingly has no qualms about her childhood. Thankfully, her diet has since improved since the rough days of her childhood and now she actually wishes she could get bigger. “I do not take steroids, I only take multi vitamins. I wish I could be big, really big: 190 cm tall and weigh more than 100 kg, like my dad,” she told the Daily Mail. Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen — you’ve heard it from Varya herself!