Meet Denis Samsonov, The Fittest Wizard
Like most athletes headed for Semifinals, Denis Samsonov spends his days in the gym, training. But unlike his competitors, Samsonov spends his night making TikToks
A TikTok Star: Samsonov, currently ranked 7th in Asia, is known on TikTok as The Fittest Wizard. His account, which has garnered over 1 million followers, is filled with short, goofy videos — that regularly receive hundreds of thousands of views — of him lifting and dancing around the gym.
- It all began last summer, when Samsonov, coaching at a local gym, decided he wanted to start an online workout program. To get a following before a launch, he says he “started posting some workout videos here and there, and then sometimes would do [a] goofy video working out and dancing in between sets.”
- Things started to blow up after Samsonov released a video of him dancing to Cardi B’s “WAP” — the video, posted in August, now has over 38 million views and 5.8 million likes.
- Based on the success of the “WAP” video, he thought mixing dance and fitness could be a good way to get people interested in working out. “It kind of just evolved into me dancing and shaking my ass,” he laughs.
(Samsonov calls himself the “Fittest Wizard” because of his love for Harry Potter. One of the few things listed in his Instagram bio is his Hogwarts house – Gryffindor.)
His videos, though they do involve shaking his ass, are no small feat. In one, he films himself dancing on five different Assault Bikes, essentially doing a series of sprints on the machine to finish the video. In another, he snatches 300 pounds before launching into a full jazz routine. His 10-year gymnastics career shines in clips of him flipping off boxes and climbing (and dancing) on the rig. Samsonov has even created a dance alter-ego, Ashes.
- Samsonov estimates his content takes a few hours to put together, typically from 12 to 3 a.m., now that he’s working out of a 24-hour gym and not a CrossFit gym. Some take hours to make (anything with dance takes longer, Samsonov says, emphasizing that he’s “not a dancer.”). Others — like the video he posted a few weeks ago of him getting hit with a ball — take minutes.
A CrossFit Wizard: Samsonov moved to the United States from Kyrgyzstan in 2005 for gymnastics. Murph was the workout that hooked him to CrossFit; “I couldn’t move my arms or legs for the next week, but I loved it,” he quipped, saying that almost immediately after his first Murph, he signed up for an on-ramp class at a local box.
- He’s competed in six Opens, been to Regionals on a team in 2017 and 2018, went to Granite Games in 2019, and last year — before COVID shut events down — had qualified for the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge.
The Fit Wiz Method: Earlier this year, in collaboration with three team members (one of these partners, Lori O’Shea, regularly films and makes appearances in his TikToks), Samsonov did what he set out to do from the start and launched an online workout program. The programming, called The Fit Wiz Method, has three tracks: minimalist, recreational, and competitive.
- The competitive track follows the exact programming Samsonov will perform leading up to Semifinals.
- The success of his account is clear. Currently, the program has about 100 people signed up, most of whom, Samsonov says, aren’t CrossFitters. Most have come to his programming through TikTok. The program’s Instagram account, started in March of 2021, already has over 10,000 followers.
The Future of Fit Wiz: Right now, Samsonov is focused on Semifinals, training four to five times a day with his coach (and Fit Wiz partner) Gretchen Key. Currently unaffiliated, he’s hoping to find a box he can use to compete in the CrossFit Asia Invitational.
As for the future of his TikTok account, Samsonov plans to slowly turn his content more towards fitness, with less dance. On Instagram, where he has almost 350,000 followers, he’s already started taking that turn.
- “I’m not a fan of my own videos if I’m completely honest,” he says. “Just because it’s not how I really am in real life”.
- “I know people enjoy watching it, they tell me it makes their days or whatever, so I know other people enjoy it, but to me, it’s not really how I am in real life, me looking at it is just cringe-y to me,” Samsonov continues. The dancing won’t stop, he assures, but eventually, it may just be a goofy sprinkle on top of his fitness content.