29 Ways You Know You’re An Ex-Gymnast

Gymnastics

Once upon a time, you were a highly competitive gymnast. It was your life. You might not have even been that good in gymnast terms, but in other people terms, you were amazing (because you said yes when they asked “can you do a flip?”). You worked out more days a week than you went to school. Now you feel really lame when people talk about what they did in high school because your answer is always the same: “well, I spent time at the gym…” If you are a no-longer-competing, still-identifying-as-one-even-though-you-definitely-aren’t gymnast, you can probably relate to the following statements:

1. When you tell people you used to do gymnastics, they immediately ask you if you can do a flip and you start asking them if they mean a back tuck or a back walkover or a back handspring and they look at you like you’re crazy because they just want to know if you can do a “flip.”

Gymnastics - Flip

2. You tell people you had to stop because you got hurt, and they get all concerned about your injury, and you remember that in the real world having really serious injuries isn’t a normal thing.

Gymnastics - Broken Bone

You have a lot of x-rays that look like this.

3. You sit on the floor in really weird positions that most people can’t even do. And you don’t even realize it.

Gymnastics - Homework

“Wait, most people don’t sit on the floor like this to do homework? Huh. Weird.”

4. If you stretch at a normal gym, people think you’re trying to show off.

Gymnastics - Stretching

You’re used to this, so doing a split as part of stretching is nothing. Your hips aren’t square and your knees are a little bent – why do they think this is good?

5. When you tell people how your coaches treated you, they usually say something like, “isn’t that child abuse?” and you say, “no, that’s gymnastics.”

Gymnastics - Mean Coach

You probably didn’t realize all coaches weren’t like that.

6. People always ask you if you’ve seen Stick It.

Gymnastics - Stick It

It’s the only movie about gymnastics. Of course you’ve seen it. (But if one more person says, “my favorite quote is ‘it isn’t gym-nice-tics,’ you might shoot them).

7. You still have most of your leotards. Just in case.

Gymnastics - Leos

There was a 30-year-old who competed in the Olympics for Germany in 2008. That could be you! You’re just keeping your options open.

8. If someone tries to compare gymnastics to the sport they did, you know that they really just don’t understand.

Gymnastics - Quote

You’re pretty sure every coach ever has tried to claim this quote as their own.

9. Despite how much you hated it sometimes, if you have a daughter, she will definitely do gymnastics. At least for a little bit.

Because this is actually the cutest thing imaginable.

Because this is actually the cutest thing imaginable.

10. You think about how fit you used to be and get nostalgic for the good old days. And then you continue sitting on the couch.

What feels like forever ago, your abs looked like this.

What feels like forever ago, your abs looked like this.

11. You watch gymnastics on TV religiously.

This is you.

This is you.

12. When someone tells you cheerleading is like gymnastics, you question why you’re talking to this person at all.

In no world is this any way comparable to flipping over a four-inch piece of wood and metal.

In no world is this any way comparable to flipping over a four-inch piece of wood and metal.

13. You still shave your legs in the winter because you’ve never not done that…

Plus, USAG sent you enough of these to last you well into your eighties, so you might as well.

Plus, USAG sent you enough of these to last you well into your eighties, so you might as well.

14. You often find yourself pointing your toes without realizing it.

Gymnastics - Pointed Toes

15. You keep up on the careers of your teammates who made it big and talk about them at any appropriate (or inappropriate) occasion.

Because how many of your friends get to do this in front of audiences of thousands?

Because how many of your friends get to do this in front of audiences of thousands?

16. Sometimes a song will come on the radio and you will immediately start doing the floor routine of a friend.

But then you remember it isn't acceptable to do this in the middle of the mall, so you stop.

But then you remember it isn’t acceptable to do this in the middle of the mall, so you stop.

17. When you try to explain a skill to a non-gymnast friend, they stare blankly at you until you end up pulling out your computer to find it on YouTube, because it’s just too impossible to describe.

They all have names like Tkachev and Yurchenko and Shaposhnikova anyways, so it isn't like anyone except you is going to understand anyways.

They all have names like Tkachev and Yurchenko and Shaposhnikova anyways, so it isn’t like anyone except you is going to understand anyways.

18. When you watch gymnastics with other people, they gasp at all the wrong moments of routines, and you get ridiculously frustrated.

This is NOT an acceptable time to freak out. This is the part of the routine where she is taking a break, for Christ's sake.

This is NOT an acceptable time to freak out. This is the part of the routine where she is taking a break, for Christ’s sake.

19. Once in a while, a new song will come out and all you can think is how you wish you still did gymnastics because you would definitely want that as your floor music.

You and your gym friends listened to these CDs for fun.

You and your gym friends listened to these CDs for fun.

20. You’re still Facebook friends with your coaches. And you think it’s super weird that they have lives outside of coaching.

This is all they're supposed to do. They're supposed to live at the gym.

This is all they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to live at the gym.

21. When you watched Make It or Break It on ABC Family, you got so pissed at how easy all their routines were (I’m sorry, those were level 8 routines, not elite. Get your shit together ABC Family).

And let's be real, no gymnast has that much time for boyfriend drama. That's just not even possible.

And let’s be real, no gymnast has that much time for boyfriend drama. That’s just not even possible.

22. If you go into a gym (the gymnastics kind, obviously), you feel like you just have to touch EVERYTHING.

But your gym was always ten thousand times better than any other gym.

But your gym was always ten thousand times better than any other gym.

23. When people say they don’t like chalk, you just cannot comprehend what they’re saying.

While normal people complain about the chalk on blackboards, you have to resist the urge to rub it all over your hands. And you know that all good conversations happened around the chalk bowl.

While normal people complain about the chalk on blackboards, you have to resist the urge to rub it all over your hands. And you know that all good conversations happened around the chalk bowl.

24. You remember exactly what your gym smelled like. Other people thought it smelled gross, but you thought it smelled like home.

Sometimes, you literally slept at the gym.

Sometimes, you literally slept at the gym.

25. You feel very confused about crushed velvet being used in normal clothes.

This is currently for sale at Forever 21. Now normal people are wearing leotard material and it freaks you out.

This is currently for sale at Forever 21. Now normal people are wearing leotard material and it freaks you out.

26. There are always those guys who say something completely unacceptable when you say you were a gymnast (they ask if you’ll do a split and when you do, they make it weird by muttering something under their breath, like “boner”).

Gymnastics - Those Guys

27. You can’t imagine ever buying a blue blazer.

Judges wear blue blazers. They're the only ones allowed to do so.

Judges wear blue blazers. They’re the only ones allowed to do so.

28. You really miss your calluses. Now any time you meet someone with calluses (perhaps someone who does crew or a construction worker or something), you feel very inclined to touch their hands.

You even kind of miss rips because they made you feel like a badass.

You even kind of miss rips because they made you feel like a badass.

29. You still feel an emotional attachment to your grips

They may be bloody and sweat-stained, but you know you'd be nothing without them.

They may be bloody and sweat-stained, but you know you’d be nothing without them.

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69 thoughts on “29 Ways You Know You’re An Ex-Gymnast

  1. Amalia says:

    “A thirty year old competed for Germany in 2008” ummm you mean fucking Oksana Chusovitina? She’s not “a thirty year old,” and btw, she competed in the 2012 Olympics as well. At age 37. And she competed at Worlds this year. At age 38. And she’s going for 2016, for Uzbekistan. At age 41. RESPECT THE CHUSO.

    • Amy says:

      I ruined my knee at 18…still having problems at 30 and I am sure beyond. However, I loved every second and long for it daily!! I rely connected with this!!

      • Jenn says:

        I did the same, this made me laugh so hard. Everyone of these is true I love the one about coaches and child abuse. People think it’s weird when I tell them my favorite coach made me cry on a regular basis.

      • Chris fletcher says:

        Wow you know what that was simply beautiful Courtney I can’t believe how much passion was put into that response😏

    • Kaitlyn says:

      i know!!!! i miss it so much! i quit at level 7 and i was 10…now i am 12, and i can bearly do a kip….on the bright side i might go back in….only i will be on x-el not usag…but still!

  2. LL says:

    That was a pretty good list except for the movie part. I am an ex gymnast and I have never nor will I ever watch Stick It AND its not the only gymnastics movie. American Anthem was first and will always be the best!

  3. Amanda Hatfield IFBB Pro says:

    Cried reading this! But you don’t have to stop at 43 I am one of the top 10 fitness competitors in the world! And I Still coach, swing bars, and throw backhand springs and tucks on beam! Don’t let age stop you! Oh yeah and I have two teenagers of my own!

  4. alicia shaunce says:

    I love everything gymnastics I knew from a young age that is what I wanted to do… but I sucked! My Freshman year of High School I transitioned to Cheer. (Remember this was in the 80’s) so we did not do as many tricks or flips. Shoot basket tosses and lifts were the big rage! .. now I am 44 and my knees dont work right and exercise is not an option because of my knee injuries… (By the time I was 22 I had 2 knee surgeries) … My daughter is not going to do gymnastics… instead she is doing ballet and taking Horseback riding lessons. Her injuries will be totally different and possibly cost more in the long run … gerrrrr… but if I wanted easy I would have gotten a fish.

  5. Jenna says:

    Omg! I miss gym so much! Wish I never gave up when the doctors told me too! Was the biggest regret of my life. Stupid spine xx

  6. sjl says:

    After doing gymnastics in the late 70s and early 80s, I’ve discovered flying trapeze and circus aerial arts 5 years ago. I’m stronger than ever and having more fun in my 40s than I imagined. It has reignited some of that love and flying trapeze is no-impact on the legs (but gives the shoulders a good workout).

    • Kazikari says:

      I too found Circus after 10 years of Gym doing part elite training and part levels comps. Circus kicks arse over Gym for me, mainly because you can keep going into 30’s 40’s and sometimes 60’s. 70’s!, You don’t have to be “perfect” and creative expression and diversity are celebrated. I loved Gym While I did it for 30 hours a week in year 6 but now I look at all the destructiveness attached to the sport and will not allow my child to do it. It’s circus all the way for us

  7. Aaren says:

    Class 1 elite! My hands still have scars from all the rips at the age of 39. My daughter finds it hard to believe as a kid I use to sleep in the straddle split before a split test. Injury doing a back tuck back lay out on the beam ended it all. :(

  8. stella says:

    Oh so true I have 2 boy s and one girl who now go to gymnastics when I take my 2 year old I go in with her and I have a terrible urge to swing on the bars walk on the beam and generally throw myself about at tge age of 40!

  9. Jen says:

    THIS. IS. AWESOME. But in reference to #6, you need to go rent American Anthem! Great movie! (Yes; I’m old. But I can still do a giant.)

  10. Liesl Hypki says:

    I love this! Makes me miss gymnastics. But I have to say I succumbed to the blue blazer and became a judge after my injury ruined me. It was fantastic money, and gave me a more technical view of those Tkachev & Yurchenkos.
    Thanks for posting this!

  11. Miranda Makes says:

    Hi, I tried to find an email contact for you on your site but couldn’t. The pictures of the little gymnast are mine. I took them of my daughter Fiona and posted them own blog. I was never contacted and never gave permission to use them. Please take them down as soon as you can. Thanks for understanding!

    • ipaulesbronet says:

      Hi! I’m so sorry, I found it on google images, which is where I find most of my pictures (since I usually think of it as the public domain), so I didn’t even think about it. I took it down, as per your request, and replaced it with a new photo. Your daughter is adorable and the photograph was beautiful, which is why I chose that picture, but of course I understand!

      • Miranda Makes says:

        Thanks a lot! Google Images turns up any images found online, many of which are not in the public domain. Something to keep in mind when looking for images. They should always be credited, at the very least. Best practice would be to contact the photographer and ask permission.

  12. Shelley says:

    My daughter started gymnastics at age 2 years 8 months. At 3 years and 10 months old could do a back handspring. Totally built like a gymnast when she was born. Competing next month a day after her 5th birthday in her very first competition as a level 2. Now round off back handsprings are her favorite next to the bars. Hands are callused from many rips but now she doesn’t cry anymore. Gymnasts are so tough!

  13. Juan Carlos Velasco says:

    I loved your site. When I was in 6th grade I did the rings, but instead I chose to be a wrestler. Your presentation was amazing! I like the smell and feel of chalk. I know you can still hang with the best of them!

  14. Gimmy says:

    Here’s a good way to know whether or not you’re an ex-gymnast: Ask yourself, “Have I ever done gymnastics?” Then ask yourself, “Am I currently involved in gymnastics?” If you answered yes to the first question, then no to the second question, you know you are an ex-gymnast.

    Using this method is much more quick and efficient.

  15. Habibi says:

    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  16. chelsnaughton says:

    Reblogged this on Rivers and Roads and commented:
    If you ever wondered what it’s like to be a former-gymnast, this girl nailed it.

    Now you all know why I sit weird, appreciate calluses, and still enjoy yoga even though sometimes I prefer to stay in the corner at class.

  17. Ayaka says:

    This was amazing, I never realized so many people felt the way I do! It’s been over 5 years since I did gymnastics and I always feel as though I don’t have a right to talk about it like it’s a big part of my life, but it WAS my identity for so long and it seriously defined a lot about me. When you spend 30+ hrs. a week pushing yourself, getting criticized and drilled and hurt and sore, finally mastering a skill, always trying to move on to the next level, it affects your work ethic, your social life, your mental stability…everything. I feel like a failure sometimes for not doing it for longer, but this helped me realize there are a LOT of ex-gymnasts who feel the same way, and that doesn’t mean I can’t still claim this as a part of who I am. Thanks! And love to all the gymnasts, current and past. You are strongest people I know.

  18. Alisa ♥ says:

    I’ve seen other gymnastics movies. Even though it’s more child/family, I adore it. “American Girl Mckenna Shoots For The Stars” might want to check it out :)

  19. bubbles says:

    I miss gym so much and even though it’s been nearly 3 years since I left my hands are still hard and rough from bars. My current friends don’t seem to understand the pain and sacrifices you have to go through as a gymnast, but this blog sums it all up.
    I love it and stick it is the best gym film out there, I have watched it so many times,i think I could quote the entire film if I wanted to.

  20. Toejammed says:

    Sums it up..been over 25 years and I’m still pissed I didn’t truly master the rings…but that fire stills burns today…I can’t help but push myself further in what ever I am doing…gymnasts are a certain breed..its a personal battle…glad to see others reminnsing.

  21. greeneyedguide says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! All these points are true, and comically so. My roommates have all just gotten used to me curling my toes when I’m sitting-It feels too weird to put my foot flat on the floor!
    I am turning 30 this year and looking for something else I can compete in. IFBB Bikini or Fitness comps seem like the logical choice but too expensive.
    Any advice from other ex-gymnasts out there not quite satisfied with just weight training at the gym?
    @Greeneyedguide

    • Katy says:

      I know this was posted a while ago – but I’ve gotten into Crossfit and my gymnastics background gives me a huge advantage over others in competitions! I came into CF able to do pullups, toes-to-bar, handstand pushups and walks, ring dips, and other skills that non-gymnasts take months/years to learn. I’m thinking about transitioning into Olympic lifting now, because my size is a disadvantage with competition weights in Crossfit but actually an advantage in weightlifting. Check both of those out!

  22. Mel says:

    I enjoyed reading your page…but the radiograph you used in #2 is actually a horse’s radiographs. It is the radiographs of Barbaro, the famous racehorse that broke down in a race and his owner’s tried to save him with surgery to repair his injuries. Just an FYI. :)

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