How Gold Medalist Gymnast Gabby Douglas Cares For Her Physique

Alexandra Engler

mbg Magnificence Director

By Alexandra Engler

mbg Magnificence Director

Alexandra Engler is the wonder director at mindbodygreen and host of the wonder podcast Clear Magnificence College. Beforehand, she’s held magnificence roles at Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports activities Illustrated, and

Game On With Gabby Douglas

Picture by Wealthy Polk / Stringer x mbg Inventive / Getty Photographs

April 19, 2024

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We love celebrating girls on high of their sport. In our new collection, Sport On, we’re interviewing high athletes about their well-being routines—masking all the pieces from diet that makes them really feel sturdy to the moments that deliver them pleasure. 

Like many individuals, I used to be first launched to Gabby Douglas over a decade in the past, in the course of the 2012 Summer season Olympics in London. That summer season, the nation grew to become enamored with the “Fierce 5” who took dwelling the staff Gold in girls’s gymnastics for the USA. 

Douglas’ star-making performances and gravity-defying power earned herself one other Gold within the particular person all-around. And in doing so, she made historical past: Douglas is the primary African American lady to turn into the Olympic particular person all-around champion and the primary U.S. gymnast to win gold in each the person all-around and staff competitions on the identical Olympics. 

I used to be an intern at Sports activities Illustrated that summer season, and was assigned to analysis all issues girls’s gymnastics. Meticulously following Douglas’ meteoric rise to Gold endeared me to her — and I’ve adopted her profession since.

“I am blushing,” she stated, as she laughed once I informed her about our small, principally one-sided connection. I informed her it was most likely simply her pure glow.

I used to be thrilled to have the ability to test in together with her all these years later, study how she’s at the moment caring for herself and her physique, how she mentally prepares for large competitions, and what recommendation she has for younger athletes with huge desires. 

mindbodygreen: You’re somebody who’s been competing on the worldwide scale for a very long time—in a famously intense sport at that. How do you mentally put together for an enormous competitors? 

Gabby Douglas: Truthfully, I preserve my routines fairly easy. That’s been my routine for a very long time now — I don’t do rather a lot. I don’t must as a result of we achieve this a lot preparation within the health club main as much as [competitions]. For instance, we do strain units, which is when everybody comes over to observe you do your set. That approach by the point you get to a contest, it feels second nature. 

So on the day of a contest, I stand up, eat breakfast, hearken to music on the best way, and get within the mindset of ‘OK — let’s do that.’

mbg: What meals aid you really feel strongest and nourish your physique? 

Douglas: My favourite is baked salmon, mashed potatoes, and asparagus. Good protein — you gotta have it!

mbg: How do you go to sleep—particularly earlier than an enormous competitors? I imply I can not think about attempting to go to sleep earlier than one thing as huge because the Olympics! 

Douglas: To be sincere, on the finish of the day my physique is simply so drained. Gymnastics may be very exhausting. For instance, not too long ago we went like 30 days straight of follow within the morning and at evening. So I simply really feel like our our bodies are naturally drained as a result of we’re waking up early within the morning for follow, then coming again later within the day for one more.  

So our our bodies are drained — we actually do want the remaining. 

mbg POV

She’s not flawed—energetic our bodies want an ample quantity of of high-quality relaxation. Now what that appears like in follow is totally different for everybody relying on a wide range of components together with exercise ranges, hormonal shifts, and extra. This is the best way to discover your superb sleep quantity.

Mbg: Gymnastics is notoriously exhausting on the physique. How do you take care of it after? 

mbg: Being an expert gymnast comes with a lot strain. How do you discover that child-like pleasure that made you fall in love with the game to start with?

Douglas: It’s so true — so usually dad and mom will say to me, “Hey, how can I get my daughter to be at your degree?” I’m like, “No — let her get pleasure from it first. She’s a child.”

Typically we [professional gymnasts] want we might return and begin that journey once more, when it’s joyous and pleased. While you become old is once you begin pondering, Oh that is one thing else. 

However we do attempt to preserve it enjoyable within the health club with me and my teammates. We like to seek out other ways to giggle and be joyful and have banter right here and there. As a result of if not, the game is simply that a lot more durable—and gymnastics is already actually exhausting. It’s necessary to seek out other ways to maintain it enjoyable. 

So usually dad and mom will say to me, ‘Hey, how can I get my daughter to be at your degree?’ I ’m like, ‘No — let her get pleasure from it first. She’s a child.’

Mbg: That’s a extremely nice perception. You must discover the enjoyment first! What about for younger girls who wish to take their sport extra severely—what recommendation do you’ve gotten for them, as somebody who grew to become an expert athlete? 

Douglas: Do not surrender. Irrespective of if it is gymnastics or basketball, simply don’t surrender.

And also you don’t should take it to the skilled degree, however I do encourage ladies to remain in some form of sport. There are such a lot of advantages of being concerned in one thing. Gymnastics has taught me time administration, self-discipline, perseverance, and teamwork. 

mbg: Talking of staff mates — what qualities make a fantastic teammate? How do you present up to your teammates? 

Douglas: I simply attempt to meet everybody the place they’re. Some circumstances which means not pushing somebody too exhausting — and as an alternative, simply actually being there for them. In the event that they want a shoulder to cry on, right here you go. In the event that they want somebody to encourage them, I’m right here for you. So simply assembly of us the place they’re. 

I used to be all the time taught to by no means finish on a foul day.

Mbg: What qualities about your self are you most pleased with and why? 

Douglas: My perseverance and drive. I used to be all the time taught to by no means finish on a foul day. So I all the time attempt to preserve going and ensure I depart all the pieces on a excessive notice. 

Like, even for those who didn’t make it—however you gave it your all—on the finish of the day, you may be glad with the outcome as a result of you already know you set your all into one thing. For me, I wish to be sure I put my all into one thing and by no means have regrets on the finish of the day. 

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