Interview with Kirill “Cheerio” Chayka
by Peter Renault
Born in the Ukraine, Kirill Chayka has one of the most striking looks in the modeling field. His stunning physique, chiseled features and riveting eyes have won him a flurry of attention from fans and the media in an incredibly fast amount of time. But it has not all gone to his head. He’s focused entirely on his training, his career and his schooling. Growing up in South Carolina after moving to the States as a kid, Chayka started out small for his age and skinny, but he made up for it after high school by lifting weights and improving his size. Since launching himself on the fitness scene through social media, he has been sought-after by the top photographers in the business. At times it seemed as if everyone wanted a piece of him, but he has not let all the adulation and flattery go to his head. His story is one of perseverance and determination, but also one of setting boundaries, choosing goals, and always maintaining a sense of humor. Our interview with this up-and-coming sensation follows below.
Masculine Mag: You have one of the most impressive physiques in the fitness modeling scene. How long have you been working out?
Kirill Chayka: Thank you. I have been working out for four years now.
M: I read somewhere that you got into bodybuilding and exercise because you were picked on as a kid in PE class. Were you much smaller then? How did you overcome that?
KC: Actually I got into bodybuilding because I failed to make my university’s soccer team. I just used the gym as something to take my mind off my failure. And I ate a lot in the school cafeteria before and after gym sessions. I had a fast metabolism and since I stopped playing soccer, all the food I ate went into building muscles since I was training at the gym two times a day. I did get picked on a lot in high school. I was very little and skinny. People pick on the weakest to feel superior, I guess. After graduating high school, I hit the gym, and I put on 20-30 pounds my freshman year.
M: What motivates you to persevere? To push the limits? Is it an intrinsic part of you? Or did you have to learn it?
KC: It is, I think, an intrinsic part of me. I was always competitive as a kid. I would want to win at everything that was presented in front of me, both physical and mental. Whether it be soccer, running the furthest, the fastest, doing the most push-ups, pull-ups, etc. I never wanted to be adequate, or just good enough. I wanted to be the best whenever I took up a challenge.
M: How old were you when you first came to the United States? And if you can recall, what was your reaction to it? Was it hard to adjust?
KC: I was 5 years old when I moved to the States. Can’t really recall what my reaction was. But I adapt really fast and I learned to speak English fluently in five months. I also speak Russian.
M: Who were your role models growing up? Did you look up to any well-known figures?
KC: My role model when I was a kid was Batman. Haha. I liked how he achieved something from nothing. He doesn’t have super powers like every other superhero. He worked at his skill and mastered it. I know that Batman is fictional, but if I can set my sights beyond what is real and what society thinks is attainable, then I can go beyond all limits and expectations of everyone. If not, then I will just be like everyone else. And like Arnold Schwarzenegger says: “The worst thing is to be like everyone else.” Arnold was also a huge role model when I started lifting weights!
M: How did you first get into modeling? How were you discovered?
KC: Once I developed a muscular lean body, I put up a picture on the website Bodybuilding.com and from there it just sort of happened. I come from a very small town, so I don’t think I would be where I am today if it weren’t for social media.
M: You made quite a splash early on with your pictures by Luis Rafael and Rick Day. How did all that initial attention affect you? Did you enjoy being in the spotlight?
KC: At first it was good. Awesome. But then I got too many people and creepers on my social media accounts. I just needed a break, so I shut all my accounts down. I made new ones and I started fresh — this time with a clear mind and better prepared for what is to come. I do enjoy being in the spotlight, since I worked hard enough to deserve it. 🙂
M: What advice would you offer others just coming onto the fitness modeling scene?
KC: Be yourself. Be original. And have fun.
M: What part of your body do you think is your best asset? And why?
KC: I would have to say my eyes, or so I have been told. My body could be built-up and slimmed down, but you can not change something that was given to you genetically. God made me how I am and I am happy with that. 🙂
M: Do you think Americans have a different attitude about men’s bodies than Russians do? The emphasis today seems to be more on adding muscle mass rather than developing strong classic lines.
KC: I don’t know. I prefer symmetry over being huge and muscular. Being lean, muscular and symmetrical is what “I” prefer.
M: How do you maintain your physique when not in full training mode? What are your toughest challenges to keep healthy and fit?
KC: I train all the time, all year-round since I started. There really is no off-season for me. I am always trying to better myself. The biggest challenge to staying fit and lean is the diet. It’s more of a lifestyle than a diet, since diet is temporary and lifestyle is year- round. I don’t have any trouble training year-round, I love it! The food choices is what comes harder to me since I love to eat good food. I have to control my cravings and overcome them by always thinking of my goals.
M: What do you do to relax? Your favorite hobbies? Secret passions?
KC: I watch my favorite TV shows, which are “MasterChef,” “Hell’s Kitchen” (I know, right!), and comedies. I actually love to cook. It is like a hobby, but also a lifestyle since food is a BIG part in a healthy lifestyle. As for secret passions — I want to be an awesome cook! Haha. I also want to travel the world and be a part of all the different cultures.
M: What is there about Kirill Chayka that people don’t expect and are surprised by when they finally meet you in person?
KC: What surprises people when they meet me in person is that I am very straightforward. I say what is on my mind. I don’t BS things. Also that I am not as serious as I look. I am sarcastic.
M: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
KC: Who knows? I want it to be a surprise. 🙂
M: So how did you get the nickname Cheerio?
KC: I got it my freshman year in high school. People could not pronounce my first name well, and they thought it sounded like Cheerio. Plus I do love Cheerios cereal and eat it all the time! I just roll with it. It stuck, and I like it. Haha.