Laurie Hernandez is a famed gymnast who took home gold and silver medals with the U.S. “Final Five” gymnastics team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That same year, she won the 23rd season of Dancing with the Stars, and published her New York Times bestselling memoir, I Got This, in 2017. Now, she has her eye on the 2020 Olympics. Here’s what makes her feel powerful...
I feel most powerful when…
I'm moving. Different types of workouts. Sometimes it’s just gymnastics, but sometimes it’s doing other things, too — like cycling. When I first started my comeback [she took a two-year break from gymnastics after the 2016 Olympics], I was doing boxing, too. But just testing how my body works makes me feel most powerful.
What does power mean to you?
For me, it's not just about being physically strong and able, but also being mentally strong.
Gymnastics can be more mental than physical sometimes. So throughout training, going through different tests — whether that’s competing with a lot of people or just with yourself can build your mental strength. I tend to get really nervous when I’m competing, but once I’m up on the equipment, I really like it. So, just learning how to calm myself down; I think that’s pretty powerful.
What do you do when you feel powerless?
When I feel powerless, the first thing I do is reach out to my family and close friends. Sometimes I feel like they know me better than I know myself. Especially my mom and dad; they’ve been supporting me since day one. I feel like they have all the answers.
Right now I’m training in California and my family is in New Jersey, so there’s a lot of FaceTime going on.
What's your power anthem?
I have a playlist full of pre-meet pump-ups. Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is a really good one. It’s so fast. It makes me want to get moving, dance around and do the best I can. Any good karaoke song is a good pump-up song.
Who's your power icon?
Can I pick my parents? My icons are my parents. After having to raise three kids, they’ve gone through a lot of different struggles. My siblings and I have been able to do so much in our lives because we had a really good foundation. There’s only so much your parents can give you, and yet it feels like our parents really gave us the world.
I think without that foundation and without the things they taught us when we were little, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They’re so kind to other people, and that’s something that I want to follow their lead on. So, they’re my power icons.
What do you wear when you want to feel powerful?
During practice, I typically feel most powerful in a training sports bra and some Nike Pros. I feel really comfortable in my body in those.
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.