Laurie Hernandez

Laurie Hernandez talks mental health in sports and how to transition from gymnastics

Laurie Hernandez is a gymnast. That’s how everyone knows her. That’s what a Google search of his name will tell you. But Laurie Hernandez is, of course, much more than that. Remezcla had the opportunity to speak to Hernandez during the THE ATTITUDE event, which aims to celebrate Latinos and counts Nike among its sponsors. Hernandez, who was on the panel Extending the Wellness Footprint: Creating a Culture of Belonging and Inclusionwas very candid about the role gymnastics has played in her life, who she is now outside of it, and what the future holds for her.

The conversation was primarily centered on mental health. It’s something Hernandez was careful to point out, sharing that it’s very important to have big names like Nike to support conversations about ‘minorities, about the Latino community’ and about the lack of resources. in mental health. In particular, when talking about our communities, she referenced the fact that so many people “can’t afford to take care of themselves”, which makes the process of raising awareness all the more important. .

“Trying to train just your body and completely blow up your mind will immediately, essentially, set you up for failure,” Hernandez said during the panel, an idea she reinforced by sharing her own struggle with mental health. and what the change in environment — and focusing on being mentally well — has done for her.

But Hernandez was also looking forward to a post-gymnastics life and what that transition has been like for her. She shared that “it’s a struggle for everyone”, but it was also very important for her to realize that she is more than gymnastics. “There’s so much more to life, and there’s more things I can do, [things] that I know I love.

In this regard, she also told us that she was lucky to have been able to “find several things that I am passionate about”. And for Hernandez, that includes pop culture. “Music is important,” she shared, adding that she has playlists of imaginary scenarios that she listens to in the subway, acting. It makes sense because she’s just started at New York University, where she’s majoring in acting. “I consume TV and movies like no other,” she said, which is pretty clear from the comment stream on her Twitter feed.

And like us, she thinks of representation, of seeing herself in the media she consumes. But as someone who’s been the portrayal of many little girls, Hernandez has a clear idea of ​​what that means. “For me, performing is best when I just follow my heart and pursue the things I love. Before, it felt like gymnastics. Now it feels like playing and being able to work really hard for it,” she says.

But it’s not just about being present and visible. It’s about living your life without worrying about how you represent others. “Be yourself and you’re already an inspiration,” Hernandez made clear. “That’s it.”

She also had advice for people who are starting over, like her. “You don’t have to throw away your old self and your old experiences to be able to receive a new one,” she said. “You can recognize the experiences you’ve had.” And if for her, looking at her career as a gymnast sometimes feels like looking at another person, it’s not. This kid is still “in me, it’s me, and she’ll always be there.” But this person that you were must not continue to be all that you are.

“[R]Presentation is best done when I just follow my heart and pursue the things I love. Before, it felt like gymnastics. Now it looks like playing and being able to work really hard for it.

“I can recognize that and turn the page a little more and realize that I’m wearing this and now there’s room for another version of me.” And going to new environments trying to hold on to the past makes it difficult. “At some point you have to relax and know that you don’t have to cling to who you were. It will always be there, and you can have room for everything.

Laurie Hernandez is a gymnast. A gold medalist. She always will be. But Laurie Hernandez is also so much more, and the things she can still achieve, influence and create are something she will have to discover for herself. And, in the future, her fans will be able to follow her as she embarks on the most important journey of all: finding her place in life.


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