The London-based Kristel Klein has always been active and played sports, but even she couldn’t have predicted that she would get into the fitness world that would considerably change her lifestyle. A time that was meant to be a gap year before going to the university in Estonia turned into eight years away – and recently, she achieved international success in fitness.
Klein is from a small Estonian island called Kihnu, where national traditions have important roles in everyday life. There are many active people in this small island who love to play sports, but there are not that many opportunities. After leaving Kihnu, she got engaged in athletics and started to go to the gym. “My plan was to study physical education in Estonia, but I decided to go explore London and improve my English before going to the university. I never thought I would stay here for such a long time and all my plans were going to change,” Klein says.
The path to fitness
When she arrived in London, she was just doing a little bit of jogging to keep herself fit. Visits to the gym were not more frequent than one’s usual in a fast-paced city. But something new was on the cards. “I wanted to become a trainer and completed a course to get a diploma as a personal trainer. I was conducting training days for others in the park and putting together training plans which could be viewed online,” Klein recalls.
She then embarked on a more ambitious journey in fitness world. There were a few fitness competitions coming up in the UK and she decided to challenge herself to compete.
Klein underwent proper training along with an eating plan. She was also taking posing lessons with professional coaches to learn how to act on the stage. It was a tough seven months for her, but she was full of excitement. “In the beginning it was a plan to take part in only one competition, but finally, I decided to try my luck at Pure Elite where I was successful,” Klein recalls.
Pure Elite – where everything began
Pure Elite is the fastest growing bikini, fitness and muscle model competition in Europe.
“At the beginning, my plan was to participate in the bikini category, but due to me being in a better physical condition, I decided to compete in the fitness category,” Klein says. It was a lot of hard work and learning before she was actually ready to shine on the stage.
She was recognised in Pure Elite and got a lot of opportunities and sponsors thanks to this contest – other competitions invited her to participate and sponsors asked her to be an ambassador for their products. “It is essential that a whole package is perfect when you are in a competition. I was scared of the first time being on the stage, but I did my performance as well as I could and I was confident with my looks,” Klein states.
And thus, Pure Elite was the beginning of her fitness journey.
The birth of Pure Elite Estonia
She has always been proud of her Estonian roots and the fact she is from small island of Kihnu. During her different competitions, she has always been wearing Estonian-themed clothes and flying the Estonian flag while walking on the stage. “In Pure Elite, everyone knows that I am an Estonian, from the island of Kihnu,” Klein points out.
During her holiday, Klein heard news from the Pure Elite founder that the competition was planning to expand outside the United Kingdom. This made her ask whether Estonia could be a suitable location for its expansion. “I was thinking about this opportunity – I really loved this event with its show element and the idea. Nothing like this existed in Estonia, so I decided to accept the challenge,” Klein says.
It was not an easy task she took upon herself – there were a lot of preparation, promotion and problems to deal with. It was a bigger ordeal than she had imagined, because even the Estonian Fitness Union could sense the rivalry and was trying to change her mind about organising this event in Estonia. “If I would have known how challenging it is to organise this kind of contest, I would have thought it over, but I do not regret my decision,” Klein adds.
She put together an entire programme and decided to do all the organising. The last few weeks, her friends and family were doing whatever they could to support her to deliver a successful event. Naturally, an Estonian element was not missing from the show – there was a group of people performing on the stage wearing the Kihnu folk clothes. “It is important to pay attention to every single detail. Everything has to be thought through and it is essential to sell your event for as many people as possible,” Klein says.
The first Pure Elite Estonia contest turned out to be successful and received a lot of positive feedback. The majority of competitors were non-Estonians and they all loved the country and wanted to return. “Over half of the competitors are willing to compete again next year. It is a huge compliment for me. Also, I hope next year there is going to be more interest from Estonians,” Klein remarks.
In 2017, she plans to organise the event in an even bigger scale. Klein says that she now has the experience and knowledge of what to do differently or better. “I am definitely not trying to manage this alone anymore – I am going to ask people’s help with planning and organising this from the beginning,” Klein promises.
Fitness as a lifestyle
For Klein, the fitness has become a lifestyle – she is training regularly, observing her food intake, and her life goal is to be healthy and physically fit. “The more your body changes, the more you want to train. It is something you are doing for yourself, not for others,” she says.
She has not planned her future because, so far, things have just fallen in place for her. At the moment, she is concentrating on her fitness, being an ambassador for several sports brands and preparing for the next year’s Pure Elite Estonia. She is also dreaming of creating her own line of clothes one day. “It is always important to be consistent and never give up; with consistency, it is possible to go far in life,” Klein believes.
Klein thinks that it is important to promote Estonia and the small island where she comes from – she is a kind of an ambassador for fitness in Kihnu because she is the only fitness model from there. “Fitness and the Kihnu folk dance do not go together, but who says that they cannot,” Klein remarks.
Cover: Kristel Klein (photo by Matt Marsh.) Images by Matt Marsh, Siim Kinnas, Simon Howard, UV PRO Photography/courtesy of Kristel Klein.