Artur Semenov & Kelly Baker | 2023 CrossFit Games Prep

Sevan Matossian (00:00):

Is it po Bam. We’re live. Is it possible to turn your camera sideways? Is that, is that okay? Like that? Yeah. Is that okay?

Roza Gilles (00:12):

Yep, that’s fine. Awesome.

Sevan Matossian (00:14):

Nice to meet you.

Roza Gilles (00:17):

Pleasure meeting.

Artur Semenov (00:17):

Nice to meet you too.

Roza Gilles (00:20):

Illa. The rest day. It’s perfect day, huh?

Sevan Matossian (00:29):

Oh, good. Am I pronouncing, um, your names right? Rosa and, um, Artur?

Roza Gilles (00:35):


Artur Semenov (00:38):

It’s correct.

Sevan Matossian (00:39):

So R Tool, not Arthur.

Roza Gilles (00:44):

Well, it’s like in, in a way, like, my name is Rosa here, you’re saying with R as the way the Americans would say R. Right. So it’s r o z A, but it’s R Rosa.

Sevan Matossian (00:56):


Roza Gilles (00:58):

But it’s like a Spanish, like Artur is the same way. Artur. Is that art? Like now you’re saying it in English? It’s not wrong, it’s just with an accent, but I think he’s great. <laugh>.

Sevan Matossian (01:10):

Okay. Arturo, but not. Oh, okay. But the H is silent. It’s not Artur, it’s Artur. Artur.

Roza Gilles (01:25):

And also I spelled to that t h the way we spell it, it’s a r u r

Artur Semenov (01:33):

Passport. Yeah.

Roza Gilles (01:35):

This H Yeah, in English. You add on that H and that’s what makes it into the, so in there. So that’s totally fine. I think it’s misspelling or et cetera. That’s, that’s, he’s fine with it. <laugh>.

Sevan Matossian (01:48):

I have a nephew named Artur. Artur.

Roza Gilles (01:52):

When you,

Sevan Matossian (01:55):

Maybe it’s, or maybe it’s a cousin.

Roza Gilles (01:57):

Oh, is he as strong as Arthur?

Sevan Matossian (02:00):

No. Well, maybe, I don’t know.

Roza Gilles (02:02):


Sevan Matossian (02:10):

Uh, Artur. Where are you?

Roza Gilles (02:17):

He’s in Park City in Utah.

Sevan Matossian (02:19):

And, um, Artur, you can elaborate on anything you want.

Artur Semenov (02:31):

Okay, I got it.

Sevan Matossian (02:33):

And, and he shouldn’t be limited by my questions.

Artur Semenov (02:41):


Sevan Matossian (02:42):

Um, where is home for, uh, Artur? Where does he, where does he call home? Where does he put his bed in? Uh, his head down at night normally.

Artur Semenov (03:03):


Roza Gilles (03:04):

Peterburg in Russia is his home right now. He’s, uh, resides, uh, in, uh, Kazakhstan in the city, Alma, but he is from St. Peterburg. There you go.

Artur Semenov (03:22):


Roza Gilles (03:23):

That’s correct.

Sevan Matossian (03:25):

And, and is he staying in, uh, Kazakhstan because of, uh, ease of coming back and forth to the United States, or because of the war, or what would be the reason that he’s, uh, in Kazaki?

Roza Gilles (04:13):

Yes. Yeah, so he, he’s an athlete. He has aspirations to come to CrossFit games. Uh, it’s very unknown right now, current su so it would be safe for him to move to Kazakhstan, so then he knows for sure he can come and compete in the United States.

Sevan Matossian (04:29):

I, I heard that the, uh, Iranian athlete is having, uh, visa issues. Did Artur have any visa issues?

Roza Gilles (04:53):

So, uh, when you apply for a visa in for tourist visa, and with a Russian passport, you are allowed to get a visa for about three years. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so he applied for one last year, uh, and he got, uh, approved. So he, he has a ability to travel to Russia for, uh, to United States for about three years. So he didn’t

Artur Semenov (05:12):

Have to,

Roza Gilles (05:16):

He still have a year and a half, so he’s like, in the next year and a half, he has goals to switch it to the athlete visa. More of like a, like an oh one, uh, P one, uh, visa, like an athlete or extra ordinary person kind of a thing because, uh, to prolong the visa to, uh, apply for an next visa. Right now a lot of, uh, Russian athletes have issues and the male athletes tend to not get the visa, so he’s going to go with a route of going more professional.

Sevan Matossian (05:53):

Oh, interesting. Um, uh, significantly the males have more problem than the females. And, and does he, does he have any idea why?

Roza Gilles (06:24):

Uh, we do not know why. Again, the, all of the athletes are applying for a tourist visa. Tourist visa is up to a consulate. Right? Like every single person that we know currently from Russia, uh, females tend to get the visa and the male males don’t. Mm-hmm. We don’t know why. We can just guess and like, make assumptions, you know?

Sevan Matossian (06:44):

Yeah. Um, boys do worse things than girls generally. Mm-hmm.

Roza Gilles (06:48):

<affirmative>, I, yes. I’ll check. Um,

Sevan Matossian (06:57):

How, um, in general, how’s the language barrier J just sort of l um, from the beginning, from learning about CrossFit to this elite level that he’s taken it, how has the, um, translation since the origins of CrossFit or in English, how’s the translation been treating him to get the information he needs to perform at this highest level?

Roza Gilles (08:00):

So he started his CrossFit, uh, career in 2015. His first, um, competition was in Finland. And, uh, and it was really difficult ’cause he couldn’t like, um, communicate with anybody. He didn’t know English at all whatsoever. But then now it’s a little bit better because he learned some English. He understands what you’re saying. He understands if you speak a bit too fast, maybe there’s a little bit of an issue, like when in a, during the explanation of the, like, um, kind of like a complex, it might be like hard, but like in general, he can have a communication with you and he can have a conversation with you if you’re having coffee with him. Like, you would’ve not need me

Artur Semenov (08:45):


Roza Gilles (08:46):

Oh. And his first coach was from Finland as well, so they communicated through like, um, on English as well. So it was really hard.

Sevan Matossian (08:54):

Um, he, the, the appreciation from my perspective of the Russian athletes from, um, people in the United States is very high. There seems to be a, uh, especially for Roman, there’s, there’s a, a lot of, uh, affection and love for Roman. Like the, the Americans seem to be a huge fan of Roman, and I’m sure as they get to know Artur, they’ll become a fan of Artur Als. Uh, also, is that surprising to him that there’s this, you know, this, these two countries have this, you know, history going back to, you know, forever. And yet when, um, the Russian athletes come here, they’re, they’re embraced by the community one. Am I, am I seeing that correctly? I mean, that’s why I feel they, they cheer loudly for Roman, and um, does that, does that surprise them?

Roza Gilles (10:12):

He was pleasantly surprised, for sure.

Artur Semenov (10:14):

Yeah. Yeah. But

Roza Gilles (10:17):

Like, again, I’m

Artur Semenov (10:18):

Going to

Roza Gilles (10:20):

Have a lot of people help him out.

Artur Semenov (10:22):

Watch American.

Roza Gilles (10:24):

American, actually, American community of CrossFit is more supportive to him than per se this, uh, the community that he is surrounded back home in a way. And I know Arthur since last year as well. Like, uh, you guys don’t know Arthur. We do here in Madison. There’s many people who are still waiting for him to return back. And we like waiting for him. And he’s like a part of our family. He’s our person.

Sevan Matossian (11:00):

It’s, it’s cool for us to see, even in the United States, because we forget in the United States that this is an enormous melting pot and that we are performing, um, an experiment on planet Earth that’s never been done before. People, people forget because there’s so much complaining here, but that the United States really is a, um, it, it, it’s as much Russian as it is anything.

Roza Gilles (12:10):

Hmm. He is he

Artur Semenov (12:11):


Roza Gilles (12:15):

Yeah, he was saying that if like, as a CrossFit, uh, gets developed at the, uh, it gets developed, uh, in the, in the, in the world. It’s more popular here in the United States and how people like, uh, being like treat athletes from the CrossFit here, it’s a lot kinder better, almost like the sponsors, like, they understand the hardship that the athlete has to go through that they like had and like help them out rather than in back home. Unfortunately, they, the sport is very small, so it’s like the help is very little. So here it’s definitely seeing how people are kind and they like kind of drawn to you and then they will treat you better just because you did make it to top 40. You know, that’s pretty, pretty sweet. Obviously the, the, uh, the, the, how you develop your career here, it goes much higher. Obviously. He, he’s experienced it. Roman experienced it. I think all the, uh, international athlete experienced it more in United States than in their hometowns. Even like, I feel like Europeans and stuff as well.

Sevan Matossian (13:22):

Uh, Austin Hartman, uh, he kind of looks like Ryan Reynolds. What? That’s true. He, he does kind of look like Ryan Reynolds does <laugh>.

Roza Gilles (13:29):

Wow. He got this all Reynolds.

Sevan Matossian (13:38):


Artur Semenov (13:39):

Steve Rogers.

Sevan Matossian (13:40):


Roza Gilles (13:41):

Most of the people actually say he looks, uh, more like, uh, captain America Staple.

Sevan Matossian (13:45):

Yeah, I see that. I see that too. Wow. Hmm.

Roza Gilles (13:49):

Isn’t that cool? <laugh>?

Sevan Matossian (13:50):

Yeah. That’s crazy. Um, what are, how, how big is Artur? I saw a picture of him next to Spencer Panche. He made Spencer look like a little nibble.

Artur Semenov (13:58):

Six or two? Six foot two.

Sevan Matossian (14:01):

Six foot two. Okay. Six foot

Roza Gilles (14:02):

Two. He’s very tall. Eight, nine. He athlete. He’s even tall. Yeah, because <laugh>.

Artur Semenov (14:23):


Sevan Matossian (14:24):

He’s tall. Oh yeah. And look how big, I noticed how big his feet are too. His feet are huge. What size shoe is he

Artur Semenov (14:35):

Against? The US 11. US

Roza Gilles (14:38):

11. He size 11. So it’s not that big,

Sevan Matossian (14:41):

Huh? No. Yeah, that looks, that seems hard to believe. So I had no idea that he was taller than Wakowski. So is he taller than, um, yellow? Uh, Holste too.

Roza Gilles (14:55):

We don’t know his height. Uh,

Artur Semenov (14:57):

He’s, no,

Roza Gilles (15:00):

He’s, he’s definitely bit, uh, taller than Fki, I think is maybe like six one. And he’s like, he’s back maybe a centimeter or something. I remember the problem at the water palooza when we’re at the water palooza, the rings were so low and like, like Roman could hold them and he went like, can you make it higher? And when they said no, when Arthur came down, he was like, oh my God, <laugh> like, he speed. He was like standing. He was like the big, I was like, what is this? I was like, you guys have to like, do something. It was just a kind,

Artur Semenov (15:32):

It was fun. Yeah. <laugh>.

Roza Gilles (15:34):


Artur Semenov (15:34):


Roza Gilles (15:41):

That first complex was fun.

Sevan Matossian (15:45):

Is, um, is he deterred by his, um, height being that the, the, uh, the average CrossFitter, you know, the elite CrossFitters are like five nine to five 10.

Roza Gilles (16:24):

The, the, in the very beginning of his, uh, career, he was, um, kind of like sad because he would lose the complex due to his height. And then he just like, kind of like embraced his height in the way he was inspired by athletes like Kowski and that they are tall and they’re still getting the second place being, becoming second players on earth, you know? So when you have hardships, they don’t really stop you. They motivate you to become better regardless of whatever. So it doesn’t kill, makes you stronger.

Sevan Matossian (16:52):

Nice. Is he, does he have family here with him or is he all alone?

Roza Gilles (17:00):

He’s all alone. We are back in San Peter, his wife and his beautiful daughter.

Artur Semenov (17:09):

Yeah. <laugh>

Sevan Matossian (17:11):

Wow. Is the plan to bring them here with him.

Roza Gilles (17:20):

He really, really wants them to come next year and watch him in the crossing games.

Sevan Matossian (17:27):

Um, is there an affiliate in Kazakhstan?

Roza Gilles (17:30):

Um, yeah, when he, uh, when he moved to Kazakhstan, he partnered up with his friend and they, uh, made an affiliate in Kazakhstan for CrossFit. So he kind of like made it <laugh>. It’s,

Sevan Matossian (17:52):

Is it the first affiliate in Kazakhstan?

Roza Gilles (17:54):

No, there are

Artur Semenov (17:55):

Many right

Roza Gilles (17:58):

Now in Kazakhstan. There’s only one affiliated or the cross, but not the

Artur Semenov (18:04):


Roza Gilles (18:05):

Right? Currently, yeah. For about last like few, like seven to eight years, there were no affiliated affiliates, but before that there were some.

Sevan Matossian (18:17):

Wow. So there’s,

Artur Semenov (18:22):


Roza Gilles (18:23):

My God, there was like 17, 18 affiliate. The gyms in thousand 14, in one city of Alma, there was 18 affiliated CrossFit gyms. And then they’re all gone for, for about like seven, eight years. There was none. And now I kind of brought one.

Sevan Matossian (18:45):

Wow. And, and, and it’s actually open to the public. There’s members there and like of, of wide variety of people there, not just him.

Roza Gilles (18:57):

Yeah, it’s, it’s for members, it’s huge. It’s beautiful. It has everything. It’s 2000 square meters. I don’t know how what it is in feet.

Artur Semenov (19:09):

It’s, uh, six, 6,000 feet.

Sevan Matossian (19:12):

Wow. Okay. So it’s a big gym.

Roza Gilles (19:14):

It’s a big gym. Lots of space, lots of equipment. Oh my God. They have like barbells from Elco, uh, from the weightlifting barbells. They have all of the equipment that need to, when he rowers that,

Artur Semenov (19:36):

Yes. E acres fit. No, that,

Sevan Matossian (19:38):

Oh yeah. That’s nice. Wow. That’s a big place.

Roza Gilles (19:41):

It’s a giant, it’s like, it looks super spacious. Like a good thing about where, so I’m from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan is when my parents were both were born. My friends live in Kazakhstan, like in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, we have an ability to rent the square footage and it’s really cheap. So when we built something, we would be build a big <laugh>. So it’s kind of cool. That building was specifically built for CrossFit right there. So it wasn’t like a warehouse, nothing before it was built specifically to make that, there’s like a one meter of cement underneath, so you can drop the barbells anywhere, and so you don’t, you can drop it anywhere.

Sevan Matossian (20:24):

Um, what’s his, uh, relationship like with, uh, his coach, Nick Fowler? What’s their relationship like?

Roza Gilles (20:54):

That’s so sweet. So, uh, he met Nick, um, at the CrossFit Games last year when he was training Rama Rowland Koff here at the games. Uh, and they kind of like hit it off. It was really good bond in a way. And then, uh, he was kind of shy to ask to be his athlete and to coach him. And then eventually, like after a couple months passed in November, he sent him a message on Instagram and Nick, uh, thought about it for about two weeks, and then he agreed to become his coach.

Sevan Matossian (21:26):

I, I’m, I’m guessing there are some special, special needs to have an athlete like, uh, Artur. Uh, he’s so far away. There’s the language barrier. There is a, uh, a limit of resources. There’s only one affiliate there, whereas probably in, in Salt Lake City, there’s probably, I don’t know, 20 affiliates just in that one city alone. Um, it, it, I’m guessing that they’re closer than most coach and athlete.

Roza Gilles (21:59):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. They like it. Yeah. They kind of like bonded. Like they, like, they almost hit it off right away. And like, the city that Arthur lives in, Alma is very like, hilly. So there’s a lot of mountains there. And Utah is very mountain mountainy, as you know. Uh, so like, they kind of like have similar like elevation almost. Like, so it’s almost like, kind of like similar environments. So it’s kind of, uh, to talk about working

Artur Semenov (22:43):


Roza Gilles (22:45):

Yeah, they’re like friends. Yeah. So like, besides just talking about working out, they al they always find subjects to talk about. They always have fun.

Sevan Matossian (22:55):

Um, is our two, um, spreading the word of CrossFit in, uh, uh, um, Kastan, is he, does he work with any, any, any kids there, like any, any sports teams there or train anyone there to sort of spread the word?

Artur Semenov (23:18):

It’s just, I think

Roza Gilles (23:36):

I’m going to translate this.

Artur Semenov (24:09):


Roza Gilles (24:09):

<affirmative>. So he’s being humble as I’m saying. <laugh>. He, he believes that, he’s like, all I do is work out. My, my, my friend does a lot of work and he puts a lot of time and effort into it. He educates people, host the classes. All I Arthur is doing is working out where I say I disagree. Because by having somebody like Arthur working out next to you, sometimes Arthur will give you a little tips and hints saying, Hey, if you do it this way, it would be better. Or like, he’s giving a little tips. He’s per se not hosting the class or doing a private sessions, but by having Arthur there and it, it motivates people to do better. I’ve seen many, many people tag him on the, on the Instagram stories and saying thank you, like to him all the time for the tips that he has given people. So I do believe he helps. He’s being humble saying, I do my job. I love it. And, but my friend is really puss his heart into it. And his name is Ava

Artur Semenov (25:03):

<laugh>. <laugh>. <laugh>.

Sevan Matossian (25:09):

What is, uh, Artur, uh, background? What was he, what was he, uh, active child? Did he play sports?

Artur Semenov (25:16):

I, former lead teacher

Sevan Matossian (25:19):

Olympic weightlifter.

Artur Semenov (25:21):


Sevan Matossian (25:23):

Anything else?

Artur Semenov (25:25):

Track and field. Yeah.

Sevan Matossian (25:28):

Uh, the running shot put

Artur Semenov (25:31):


Sevan Matossian (25:32):


Artur Semenov (25:33):

Jumping or road jumping. Road jumping

Sevan Matossian (25:39):

High or long or both? Long, long, long. Wow. Um, and, and Artur, that’s a, um, explosive. I, I guess that’s a short, really short time domain. Super explosive, right? You get a, you get a what? A, a a 20 meter sprint, and then you jump.

Roza Gilles (26:03):

He was very, very like a powerful, like really short like domain, like you were saying, but now he’s like, sort of like, uh, kind of like, um, afraid a little bit of it. Like he’s trying to regain his like long jump. Yeah. But yeah, like, he was a lot of power and just like going really, I guess his height. That did help him too.

Sevan Matossian (26:24):

H how Artur how old are you?

Artur Semenov (26:28):


Sevan Matossian (26:29):

30. And, um, he, he’s, he’s, he’s already knows. He’s, he, he’s made it to this CrossFit games and just hearing him talk. You want to go to more CrossFit games? Like you, like you’re in this?

Roza Gilles (26:48):

Yes. <laugh>, his goal is always to, uh, make it to the game until 35 and then he will re

Artur Semenov (27:04):


Sevan Matossian (27:05):

Is he in his prime or is he

Roza Gilles (27:09):

Well, I, I think so. No, he still has a lot of potential.

Sevan Matossian (27:17):

Awesome. Um, what will he do when, when the, uh, games are over on Sunday? Does he have plans?

Roza Gilles (27:54):

Uh, his friend from Kazakhstan coming all the way from Kazakhstan to cheer for him at the games. He has a couple friends here in the United States that live, they wanna really see him. So after the games, he thinks they’re gonna just get together and talk about life and just about the experience at, across the games. And he probably gonna go eat a lot.

Sevan Matossian (28:15):

Does he already have plans to go back or will he, does he, does he already have his ticket back to Kastan, or is he staying for a little while?

Roza Gilles (28:36):

He’s already has his ticket on a Tuesday. He extremely, he misses his wife and the daughter so, so much. So he can’t wait to get back to them.

Sevan Matossian (28:44):

Of course. Hey, what, what did, what makes him tough enough to do this? This isn’t easy. CrossFits hard enough, and then he has to leave his homeland of Russia and then move to Kazaki Stan, and then he has to leave his family. What does he think in his life has made him tough enough to do this? Not only the CrossFit, but just the whole ordeal.

The above transcript is generated using AI technology and therefore may contain errors.

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