If you don’t know Simone Biles’ name yet, you will by the end of this summer.
The 19-year-old Texas gymnast is one of Team USA’s best bets for multiple gold medals in Rio. She’s the anchor of the women’s gymnastics team and the first woman to win three back-to-back World Gymnastics Championships. Some are even calling her the most talented gymnast of all time ― and she hasn’t even set foot in an Olympic arena yet. Between NBC’s wall-to-wall coverage in August, as well as Biles’ various endorsement deals, you’re going to see a lot of her this summer.
Biles’ performances in Rio will no doubt inspire thousands of little girls to beg their parents for gymnastics classes. And while most of us can’t reasonably aspire to Olympic gymnast levels of strength and flexibility, she’ll probably inspire a few adults to lace up our sneakers or pick up a few weights, too. If you’re having trouble making finding the motivation to work out today ― or any day ― Biles might be just the gymspiration you need.
There’s a reason Biles is considered a surefire bet for so many medals this year. It’s not just that she’s a polished performer, with rock solid sticks and beautiful lines; it’s that her strength and her dynamism are pushing the sport forward. She has an immensely difficult tumbling pass named after her, a double back layout with a half twist. If you’re the first person to complete a new trick in competition, you get that trick named after you forever. This is the Biles.
Let’s see that again.
Aaand, once more, for good measure, but this time with a split jump thrown in at the end because, you know, Simone Biles.
Biles is so strong that she somehow managed not to fall off the beam when this wolf turn went awry on the first night of Olympic Trials.
SHE HAS THE QUADS OF A MARVEL SUPERHERO. CAPTAIN AMERICA COULDN’T HAVE RESCUED THAT TURN.
Here’s what it looks like when it’s done properly. Which is somehow almost less impressive than the Baywatch-level save she pulled off at the trials.
And, just as importantly for an elite athlete as for a mere mortal heading to Zumba class, she knows her limits and respects them. When a journalist asked her why she wasn’t competing in the hardest vault in the world ― just the second hardest ― she deadpanned, “I’m not trying to die.”
Here’s the hardest vault, the Produnova. It’s a handspring into a double front somersault, and only a handful of women in the world can do it, and no one who’s competing right now can land it in competition without a deep squat and their butt touching their ground. It has a difficult score of 7.0, meaning the maximum score you can get is a 17.0.
And here’s Simone’s vault, the Amanar. It’s a roundoff onto the vault table, and then a two-and-a-half twisting layout off it. It has a difficulty score of 6.3, meaning the maximum score you can get is a 16.3.
She’s not trying to die. She’s trying to stay healthy and win.
And, she’s a big proponent of rest days. Because her workouts, particularly vault and floor workouts, are so hard on her lower body, she needs to give her legs plenty of time to recover. Her use of pulse massage therapy is well-documented, and she isn’t above rejoicing a little when practice gets cancelled and she gets to veg out on the couch.
In other words, you might never launch yourself down a vault runway, but this vault champion can still get you fired up for reps, and, when you need it, for resting.
And if gymnastics seems way out of your comfort zone, you can still add some Simone to your leotard-less workout. Check out this rope climb. NO LEGS, LIKE A TINY SPIDER WOMAN.
So, what are you waiting for? Get your ass to the gym!
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