Olympic gymnast, Aly Raisman, once felt unhappy on the podium; not because she didn’t love gymnastics; but, because she ‘lost confidence in the gym.’ She tells all in her new book, ‘Fierce’ and she gave us a preview!
Aly Raisman is a role model to hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. She’s a two-time Olympian and team captain of the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics teams [2012 and 2016]. She’s graced the pages of Sports Illustrated, and, she’s only 23-years old. Aly has it all, right? — Well, first things first, she wants you to know that “nobody’s perfect.” So, although she’s been quite blessed throughout her life, Aly’s faced some personal obstacles throughout her career. When HollywoodLife.com caught up with her at The Leesa Dream Gallery in New York City, Aly admitted that she used to spend a lot of her energy worrying about what other people thought of her. At one point, her focus on other people’s opinions consumed her so much, that her confidence started to dwindle. And, that eventually affected her gymnastics.
In 2012, although Aly left the London Olympics with gold medals in the team and floor competitions, as well as the bronze medal on the balance beam, she wasn’t too pleased with herself. “I was so worried what other people were going to think of me, that I put too much pressure on that, and I didn’t perform as well as I would’ve like to [in London],” she admitted. And, when she returned from London, she admittedly still wasn’t competing well. The problem? — Aly’s worrying made her lose confidence in the gym.
After some valuable advice from her mother and season 1 of 13 Reasons Why, Aly came to the realization that she had to start competing for herself and no one else. And, that’s one of the reasons why she decided to add the title, author to her already impressive resume. “Fierce: How Competing For Myself Changed Everything”, is the official title of Aly’s new book, which is slated to be released on Nov 14. In her tell-all memoir, she reveals a different side of her, both on and off the gymnastics floor, that we’ve never seen before. And, the main theme of her candid book? — Pure honesty. Check out our full interview with the Olympic gold medalist, below.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
“Throughout the book, you really see a transformation of my character. My whole life, I’ve always put so much pressure on myself. For example, when I was competing in the 2012 All Around, I was so worried what other people were going to think of me, that I put too much pressure on that, and I didn’t perform as well as I would’ve like to. I ended up getting fourth place in the All Around and then when I came back to gymnastics after that, you’d think I’d be a little more confident. But, for some reason, although I did so well in London, I felt like I still put so much pressure on myself that I forgot how to be confident in the gym, which is bizarre. But, I was not really competing well. Every time I would compete, I’d be very worried about what people would think and I couldn’t get it out of my head.”
“Finally, just before the Rio Olympics, I just started thinking and my mom was like, ‘This is enough. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Just do it because you love it. It’s not about winning, it’s really about the kind of person you are. People will remember you for the kind of person you are, not because you’re on the podium.’ And, of course you want to be on the podium, you work so hard and you’re an athlete. But, she said, ‘That’s not what’s important. What’s the value of being on the podium if you’re not happy?’ Ever since she said all of that, a few months leading up to Rio, things really started coming together. And, when Rio came and the All Around Final, I just said, ‘I’m going to do this for myself, and not anyone else.’ It worked out, but, it was a long time to get there. It’s hard when the whole world is watching you. So, I’m honest in my book about all of that.”
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) June 26, 2017
In 2012, you said you really didn’t understand the kind of impact you truly made on young girls. Now, five years later, you have a better understanding. Tell us more about that growth period from 2012 to now.
“I just understand what being a role model is, more now. And, it shows in my book and people are going to be really shocked. That’s why I waited so long to come out with the book because it’s much needed honesty. I was really inspired by 13 Reasons Why. I was watching it and I love the story because it really showed what happens in life, and it was so honest. So, I was like, ‘if I’m going to do a book, I have to tell the truth about my life and what’s going on.’ Because, how are you going to help other people if you aren’t honest? I had to be a tool for people of all ages to look at.”
“I also talked about how I learned how to be confident and not worry as much. But, I also talk about how I still worry; but it’s healthier now. I’ve been made fun when I was younger by the boys in my class and now I’m learned to accept myself. I want people to know that when you focus more on the kind of person you are, it helps you be more confident. No one’s perfect, but that’s OK; the more we talk about it, the more we can help other people. Now with social media, everyone thinks everyone else’s lives are so perfect. But, that’s not it, we’re all the same, we all stress out. Society likes to act that if you have a lot of followers on social media, then you have the best life. The less you’re on your phone, the better.”
We were lucky enough to catch Aly while she was in New York City with Leesa Sleep, a mattress brand she’s been partnered with since the 2016 Olympics. Aly and Leesa have been helping those in need, through the brand’s One-Ten program. For every ten mattresses sold, the company donates one to a homeless shelter, Aly told us. Leesa and Aly most recently worked with Heading Home shelter, for single mothers and children, to donate mattresses. “I’m excited to keep working with Heading Home, because Leesa has donated 18,000 mattresses to homeless people, which is amazing,” Aly gushed, adding, “I’m excited to continue this. Everything Leesa does is just so incredible. “
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) July 26, 2017
HollywoodLifers, what’s one TV show that influenced you to do something good for yourself?