If you know the history behind the name Larry Nassar, then you would know that the life of a female gymnast is not as fun as we would all want to think. Since after this one, many more cases keep making their way before judges you would have to wonder what else the girls have to go through which most of us are not aware of.
Obviously most of the girls are young and are afraid of speaking up about many of the issues they go through, but eventually, some of them do. Often, the few who have the courage to speak out usually face criticism, therefore, many of them just resolve to put up with the negative environment to avoid jeopardizing their careers. However, more and more information is coming out revealing that the life of a female gymnast is even messier than we could have imagined. Here are a few things about it:
20 A Female Gymnast’s Career Begins Very Early
Thetalko reports that some girls join gymnastics at the tender age of three and continue with the sport until their teens. The sport is very demanding and the pressure from parents and coaches can be too much for the young girls. The physical activities also put a strain on their young fragile bodies and some end up with lifelong injuries at such a young age.
19 Training Goes On For Long Hours
Gymnasts have no choice but to put in many hours practicing routines. Most, even the young ones have to practice even up to eight hours a day. As competitions draw closer, the girls normally practice for long hours. Understandably, this is partly because they cannot afford to mess up their routines. TheSportster explains that small mistakes can be quite costly.
18 Girls Do Not Eat Well
The Guardian mentions a memoir written by a retired female gymnast who confesses that female gymnasts have a wide range of eating disorders. Girls competing in gymnastics avoid eating healthy to keep their weight down. The pressure from the coaches and sport all contribute to unhealthy eating habits.
17 The Sport Stunts Growth
Gymnastics may look like a fun sport but there are long-term side effects of participating in the sport among them stunted growth in women as we find out on BuzzFeed. It is very common to see short girls in the sport however, the fact that they are better at carrying out some performances like the spin means that the sport favors them.
16 It Also Affects The Girls' Menses
Amenorrhea or missed periods are very common amongst female gymnasts. Physical activities are beneficial to the body but overdoing them as is the case of female gymnasts has its own effects according to health24.com. A number of the female gymnasts have reported that they only get their menses once they have retired from the career.
15 Gymnastics Can Take A Toll On The Girls’ Bodies
Gymnasts suffer injuries all the time. Among some of the minor injuries they get are calluses on the hand. Sadly, the girls cannot allow such minor injuries to stop them from competing as revealed on Babygaga. They have to bear with small injuries and continue to practice or perform.
14 Some Girls Get Permanent Injuries
According to flickr.com most girls ‘expire’ rather than retire from gymnastics, this is because their bodies have undergone so much strain that they cannot compete again. Aside from these common injuries in gymnastics, lesions, dislocations, ligament injuries, and broken bones, gymnasts can also develop permanent injuries.
13 Coaches Are Not Always The Nicest People
Most female gymnasts are very young, and a number normally fall in the hands of the wrong male coaches. A retired gymnast by the name Sey reveals on theguradian that some top male coaches do indeed behave inappropriately towards the young girls. Unfortunately, authorities rarely do anything when such claims make their way forward.
12 Girls Do Not Wear Anything Underneath
Innerwear for most people is a necessity. Female gymnasts, however, cannot afford to have any innerwear under their figure-hugging leotards. Buzzfeed states that judges can penalize the girls if their underwear sticks out during a routine. Since they cannot adjust their clothing because they will surely lose points for doing so, most forego them.
11 Female Gymnasts Cannot Adjust Their Clothing During A Performance
As explained on Babygaga, a female gymnast cannot afford to pick a wedgie or adjust their clothing in any way during a performance. Judges have the authority to deduct a few marks if they catch a girl attempting to fix herself. Luckily, with the help of butt glue, girls can keep their leotards in place.
10 The Girls Are Self-Conscious About Their Bodies
Female gymnasts are only supposed to perform in leotards, which normally expose a good part of their lower body. Buzzfeed states that the girls are normally self-conscious about their bodies. Unfortunately, they cannot go for clothing that is more conservative as it can interfere with their performance.
9 During A Performance, A Gymnast Has To Be Quiet And Alone
Coaches and parents can be present during a gymnast’s performance. However, they do not have the permission to have access to their girls, especially during routines as revealed on Babygaga. The parents can only cheer from the crowd while the coaches watch from their bench and hope that they heed to all the practice and advice they gave them before the competition.
8 A Gymnasts Cannot Afford To Wobble
The balance beam or the great equalizer as Buzzfeed calls it is one of the most terrifying props to maneuver on top of according to a number of female gymnasts. The girls cannot afford to mess up a performance on it as it can greatly cost them.
7 Most Stunts Terrify Them
Flying or somersaulting through the air can be fun but up to the point where a gymnast has to make her landing. According to Buzzfeed gymnasts can tell that they are about to miss their landing while in midair. The possibility of either an injury or loss of marks can sometimes be terrifying to the gymnasts.
6 Girls Sometimes Pee A Little When Performing
According to Babygaga, peeing while performing for female gymnasts is very common. It mostly happens because of the strain the girls put on their bodies. A gymnast in such a case should gracefully continue with her performance as if nothing has happened and hope that the liquid does not get on her hands and mess up her routine.
5 The Girls Have To Land And Strike A Pose Immediately
When a person falls, their natural reaction is to flinch or give some facial expression that communicates pain. According to thetalko, gymnasts cannot do this. They must smile even when they are hurting and finish their routine with a cheerful pose. Any wobbling at the end also counts as grounds for deduction of marks.
4 Gymnasts Carry On With Performances Despite The Risk Of Injuries
Gymnasts never give into injuries easily. They normally continue to train as hard as they can and push themselves to their limits despite the possibility of developing lifelong complications and injuries. According to Babygaga they survive on salts baths and ice to relieve their aches and bruises.
3 The Girls Are Not Allowed To Show Hesitation
Gymnasts do not have the permission to go on a short period pause before attempting to perform a routine. If they take longer than the stipulated period, the judges will normally deduct their points for the hesitation as explained by TheSportster. Therefore, no matter how terrifying a stunt may appear to be or how nervous they are, they should not show it.
2 Female Gymnasts Have Very Short Careers
As disclosed by thetalko, most female gymnasts peak in their mid-teens and wind up their careers by the time they near their twenties. Gymnastics is very demanding, even though a few have the will power to continue participating, their stamina cannot allow them because of all the strain their bodies have to endure over a short period.
1 Their Number One Safety Measure Is Chalk
According to BuzzFeed the chalk the girls apply on the palms of their hands can seem unimportant to us but to the girls, it is their lifeline. Without it, most gymnasts would lose their grip during performances and have nasty falls. Therefore, this commodity must be in plenty during practice and any competition.
Sources: BuzzFeed, TheSportster, Babygaga, TheGuradian, flickr.com, Health24.com, Thetalko.