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Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez On Her Book, "Dancing With The Stars" & More

EXPERT COLUMNIST
Exclusive
379   //    04 Jun 2018, 10:30 IST

Champion gymnast &
Champion gymnast & "Dancing With The Stars" winner Laurie Hernandez

At just 17 years of age -- her 18th birthday is coming up later this month -- Laurie Hernandez has already accomplished more in her life than most people ever will. In the 2016 Summer Olympics, Hernandez was a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, winning a gold medal in the team event and a silver medal on the balance beam.

Later that year, Hernandez competed on season 23 of Dancing With The Stars, becoming the show's youngest-ever winner. Hernandez has also managed to become a New York Times Best Selling Author for her 2017 title I Got This: To Gold And Beyond, and to make a few on-air appearances as an actress.

Hernandez is now back into training mode and currently has a second book in the works. I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Laurie Hernandez, and highlights of such are below; simply put, she is as warm and welcoming as one would hope. The New Jersey native can be followed on Instagram via @LaurieHernandez_ -- on which she has over 1.6 million followers -- and on Twitter via @LZHernandez02.

On if she feels there to be any misconceptions about being an Olympian:

Laurie Hernandez: I think the biggest misconception of being an Olympian would be that it happens overnight. A lot of people think that people say, "I just want to go to the Olympics," and then they go. Whereas they don't realize that there are years and years and years of hard work inside and outside of the sport we do. So let's make sure we give the athletes the proper appreciation because it doesn't happen right away.

On differences between training for the Olympics and training for Dancing With The Stars:

Laurie Hernandez: (laughs) Honestly, training for the Olympics is very, very different from training for Dancing With The Stars. For the Olympics, it was training for 11 years, and the pressure came from, "I've done this routine a thousand times the same way, can I do it the same way?" Whereas Dancing With The Stars was 11 weeks and it was a new dance every single week, a new style, new music, new shoes, a new environment that I was in every single week. The two were very different.

Another big difference, at least for me, as a gymnast you're barefoot all the while. For Dancing With The Stars, I had to learn to dance in high heels, so that was really really hard. (laughs) But I enjoyed it, I had an incredible time and an incredible experience on Dancing With The Stars and the Olympics.

On her training regimen these days:

Laurie Hernandez: My training regimen nowadays is very different than what I am used to. I've taken about two years off of gymnastics, so now it's that big transition from taking a break to coming back as an athlete.

I've never had to do that before, so it's been a fun ride. It's been an incredible rollercoaster. Right now it's changing a lot of the workouts I do at a regular gym and also starting to train at a gymnastics facility, and also my eating habits are changing a lot. (laughs)

On upcoming projects:

Laurie Hernandez: I have a book coming out at the end of the year called She's Got This. I'm very excited.

On her proudest career accomplishment:

Laurie Hernandez: That's really really hard to pick, but I'd say writing my book is something I'm so proud of. It was very nostalgic for me because being able to write that book, I was able to go back and look at all of the memories I was able to have as a gymnast and all of the opportunities I've had, even life lessons I've had looking back at my story. That was really important to me.

On what she likes to do when not competing or working:

Laurie Hernandez: Spending my free time, I think the best way to spend it is with my family. I'm very much a homebody, even though I do travel a lot. If we're able to watch movies or spend time outside or do whatever, any time with my family is a good time.

On what she wishes more people knew about her:

Laurie Hernandez: I think the biggest thing that people would be surprised to learn about me is the fact that I wear Alcon Dailies Contact Lenses. A lot of people didn't know that I wear contact lenses, but at 12 [years of age] my mom took me to the optometrist for my annual check-up, and they realized that I couldn't see as well. The best way for me to see while doing gymnastics would be to wear contact lenses...

I definitely depend on those every day. They make my life so much easier, they're so simple, it's my invisible edge and they're so comfortable. Especially at 12 years old, having to put something in your eye could be a little bit scary, but they were simple, I had no issues.

On any last words for the kids:

Laurie Hernandez: My advice to kids out there who are watching would make sure you are going after what you are passionate about, whether it is singing, dancing, a hobby, a sport, a job opportunity in the future, don't let anybody stop you. But if you create big goals for yourself, make sure to create little ones in between to get you there.

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EXPERT COLUMNIST
Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Downtown Magazine, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer. Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.
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