- Laurie Hernandez took a two-year break from the gym to recover from the emotional abuse from a coach.
- He needed time to reformulate his relationship with food, his body, and sports.
- After returning, Hernandez injured his knee just before the Olympic tests. He will not go to Tokyo.
- This article is part of our series The Golden Plan, which highlights Olympus and its values.
When the 2020 Olympics were postponed, American gymnast Laurie Hernandez was taken aback.
She told Insider that she was ready to return to the sport after a two-year break to recover from the emotional and verbal abuse she said she experienced while training with her former coach.
But the delay meant his much-anticipated return to the sport would have to wait another year.
“It takes a lot of time to prepare for something as big as the Olympics, so to have to stop and delay it, then start again, at the time it felt really overwhelming,” he said.
The Olympic gold medalist told the May Insider that she felt stronger than ever and that, although she felt more pressure to exhibit in Tokyo after another year out, she was “overwhelmed.”
“There will be such high energy this summer because that’s what we’ve all been waiting for,” said Hernandez, 21.
Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury in June and went away from the Olympic trials.
Although the Tokyo dream will not become a reality for Hernandez, he told USA Today that she asked the schools and thought of trying to act; he said it was too overwhelming to think of Paris 2024.
Hernandez didn’t want to do it a second time
When gyms closed during the pandemic, Hernandez had to take a break from training for a couple of months.
“I remember calling my coaches and being like, ‘So, without practice tomorrow, I think,'” he said. “It’s been a long time.”
Hernandez has refocused her focus on the silver linings of the pandemic, including the six months she will spend with her family in New Jersey during the lockdown.
She stayed active by stretching and going through mental routines at home.
“I put rugs and mats on the floor in the kitchen and I tried to make some antennas and springs back into the living room, just so I could keep my body,” he said.
After a while, she was invited to a gym where she could train alone.
“It was a pain in the ass,” Hernandez said. “Returns are as romanticized as it will be. It’s nice. But no, it’s going to be hard.”
Back in the gym, Hernandez’s regimen involved physiotherapy two or three mornings a week and four- to five-hour gym sessions the afternoon of the week and some Saturdays.
“My coaches have been fantastic in the sense that they don’t really give me a time when the practice ends,” he said. “They just give me assignments, and when I do them, I can go home.”
But Hernandez’s training isn’t over when she leaves the gym – when she trains, she makes time to stretch, run and do yoga at home.
“The recovery is huge,” Hernandez said. She uses a Hyperice Hypervolt massage gun to resolve the bends in her muscles.
Hernandez overcame the eating and purging
In recent years, Hernandez has changed his approach to food.
Heading to the 2016 Rio Olympics, she counted calories and was “really obsessed” with her food, she said. This behavior led to binge-eating and purging.
“Gymnastics is a sport where everything has to be perfect – your hair, routine, body, face, everything – it was just a lot,” he said.
She said her coach regularly criticized her body shape when she was a teenager. He has she talked about the emotional abuse she says she was subjected to. The coach, Maggie Haney, he was suspended for eight years in April 2020. (The suspension was later reduced to five years.)
Hernandez said he has worked to reverse this mentality and is now more relaxed. Eat intuitively, concentrating on healthy foods and preparing meals as much as you can.
“If I want more carbs, then my body clearly needs more carbs. If I want more protein, my body needs more protein,” she said, adding that she has a sweet spot for breakfast foods at any time of the day.
Hernandez’s focus is on becoming stronger, not younger
When Hernandez returned to the gym in 2018, he did so consciously, with a fresh mindset: the focus was on becoming stronger, not younger.
“When I was 16, the goal was to
, she looks beautiful, and she fits in with the other girls, “Hernandez said.” Now I want to be strong and be able to count on my body. ”
She was busy at first, wearing loose-fitting T-shirts and leggings at the gym before building the confidence to wear a sports bra and shorts to practice.
She said her new trainers encouraged her to feed her body well, build muscle, and use it to her advantage.
“My trainers were like,‘ Your body has changed, but all the extra muscle and mass you have now will allow you to hit the floor when you fall. It will bend the bars and launch you. to learn how to use it. You don’t have to lose weight, you just have to become strong. “And it was all for me,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez used the break to prioritize his mental health
Hernandez’s break from gymnastics was driven by his mental health.
“I had been doing gymnastics for so long that I literally wanted something else,” he said. “I just wanted the time to experience life and meet new people.”
So he continued “Dancing with the Stars,” wrote two books, presented TV shows, and declared a character for a Nickelodeon series.
“I was scared because gymnastics was all I knew, but it was good,” Hernandez said.
Initially, she wasn’t sure she would ever return to the sport. But he understood that the problem had been the people and the environment, not the gymnastics itself.
“It took time, trial and effort, to understand what my brain does when I’m nervous and how I can deal with it,” he said.
In the tough days, Hernandez focuses on the community of people who support her and remembers that she always has a choice.
“If you want to stop, you can. You’re not stuck anywhere. You can change things,” he said, recalling. “And as soon as I was given the option, I realized,‘ No, I really want to stay. I just had a bad day. I think tomorrow will be better. “