Little Words Project x Laurie Hernandez
NEW TO NORDSTROM:
Little Words Project x Laurie Hernandez
Gold-medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez teamed up with Little Words Project for a collection of bracelets bearing the words that inspire and empower her. We speak with the Nike athlete about sport, mental strength and her record-breaking career.
Who or what made you want to become a gymnast?
When I was five years old, I first saw gymnastics on TV and asked my parents if I could try it. I always loved doing flips and jumps, and the gym was a safe place to do it, so I tried it and loved it. That aside, I think my desire to compete and perform at a young age made me really want to take gymnastics to the next level.
How has gymnastics empowered you?
I'm empowered by young gymnasts who look at my journey and say, "I want to be like her when I grow up," even though half the time I'm not even completely sure what I'm doing! It's showing up every single day for yourself, loving what you do because you are good at it and giving it your all. Gymnastics gave me a platform to compete in the sport that I love, but beyond that, it showed me how to love myself for ME—flaws and all—and share that authentic love with the world.
What has been your proudest or most memorable moment in your gymnastics career?
Being a part of Team USA and competing as a member of the Final 5 in Rio [de Janeiro] is definitely high up there in memorable moments, I mean come on, the Olympics?! Then to be one of the very few Latinx women to ever compete at that elite level and represent Team USA—it is a memory I will honor for the rest of my life.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I would say not putting my mental health first is something I've battled with since starting gymnastics. When I finally realized how important it is to show up for yourself so you can show up for the rest of the world, things just became more clear for me. I’m continuously working on prioritizing my mental health!
Some of Nike's recent campaigns have focused on a broader definition of sport. As a Nike athlete, how has this inspired you?
To me, sport has always equaled empowerment. I am empowered by movement, by strength, by falling down and always getting back up again. I consider myself much more than a gymnast. I am a woman, I am a daughter and a sister, I am outspoken, I have a story to tell—and I can help change the world with my story. Gymnastics is a beautifully complex piece of who I am, but it isn't completely who I am, and I am endlessly proud of that.
Because gymnastics takes so much mental strength and resilience, what's your favorite way to unwind or reset when you're not training?
I love spending time detaching from everything, whether it's taking a trip to the beach, playing my ukulele and singing, or binge-watching Netflix because it simply feels amazing to watch mindless TV after a long day. When I'm in the gym I have to be "on", so turning off a bit really helps ground me.
What advice do you have for the future generation of up-and-coming gymnasts?
Prioritize YOU, listen to your body, be honest with yourself even if it's difficult or uncomfortable. Simply put, you can only be the best athlete (or person in general) when you take care of yourself first.
What's your biggest hope or dream for women in gymnastics, and sports in general?
It's safe to say that women in gymnastics have had quite the year. There was a lot of trauma but also a lot of growth. I think the upside of hard experiences is the chance to come out the other end, reclaim your story, and step into your power. My hope is that women in gymnastics have the confidence to listen to their bodies, listen to their minds, and to know their feelings are valid. I want them to all realize that they are on their own journey, not someone else's, and to trust in that journey. That is something that can apply to any sport.