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Life after gymnastics: When to retire and what to do with your time

Rhythmic gymnastics is a young person's sport. In fact, the average age of the gymnasts in the World Championships in Baku was only 18.70, way lower than in most other Olympic sports. Competitive gymnastics is demanding discipline that athletes can't sustain for much longer than that age. It's normal for competitive gymnasts in love with the sport to wonder when their sports career will end. There is many different things to take into consideration, and it's undeniable that every person is different when it comes to stepping out off the mat.

When you don't want to stop training but your current routine is becoming too much

If you are considering quitting, or if you know someone that is, there are two things you may want to take into account: why are you considering quitting is the first one. The second one is, are you sure this is what you want? Sometimes athletes feel overwhelmed by the pressure and the time they are required to train and can't keep it up, forcing them to consider ending their career as a gymnast. This sometimes has to do with health issues, injuries, academic studies, family situations, etc... If you don't want to be fully out of the world of RG, there are ways around it. You can compete at a lower level, keep training but stop competing, or you can start coaching. If you are thinking about your options, going to your coach and telling them in detail how you feel is always a good idea, since they will understand your needs better and they can give you a few different options.

There are two things you may want to take into account: why are you considering to quit is the first one. The second one is, are you sure this is what you want?

When you still love the sport but you are having problems in your club

It's easy to get discouraged if there are tensions with coaches or teammates. Whether we encounter toxic sporting environments within the rest of the gymnasts or a coach, this can manifest confusion; Do I not like the sport anymore, or is it the club where I train? There is a great number of people quitting competing because of this case, so it's important to think about it. If it's the people around you making the experience unpleasant, you can always talk to an adult, and hopefully, you can try to transfer to a different group, coach, or club altogether. Thinking about the reasons why we may want to leave can prevent us from regretting retiring, most former gymnasts do miss training after they quit.

Thinking about the reasons why we may want to leave can prevent us from regretting retiring, most former gymnasts do miss training after they quit.

When you are afraid to disappoint your parents

Parents are incredibly proud of you when you do rhythmic gymnastics, everything a gymnast does will always be great for their parents. With all their goodwill, they encourage you to the point when it's a bit pushy. Most times parents do it for your own good, but it's important to sit with them and tell them how we feel about training if we feel forced to continue just because of them. They probably don't know this. Remember to stay calm and explain things accurately without getting too emotional in order to allow them to understand your feelings. Before talking to them and telling them we don't want to do gymnastics anymore, make sure you are 100% sure and that you won't have second thoughts in the future.

So, now what? Life after quitting.

Manage your time

Once you are sure quitting is the best thing for you, you will have plenty of time in a week that was filled with rehearsals and training before. Doing something with this time is vital. Some may focus on their studies or career, some others may want to find another hobby, and others may just want to spend more time with friends and family. Those are all good options, making sure we are not on our phones or picking up other bad habits.

Keep exercising

If you quit gymnastics and you are not doing any other competitive sports, you will need to find alternative ways to stay active. Signing up for a gym, doing fitness classes, and going for runs or cycles are a few examples of what you can do. Your body will inevitably change, but it's important to keep moving if you want to stay in good health.

Your flexibility will be gone before most people think. If you want to keep it stretching is necessary.

A lot of people quit because of injuries. In order to keep our muscles active in a way that we don't damage them and that allows us to stretch, yoga or Pilates are laid-back and relaxing options that you should consider.

Stay in contact with friends

Most gymnasts have all their friends in the gym with them every day. When quitting it means you won't see them as often. If all your group is still training, it's normal to feel a little lonely at the start. If you want to keep your friends you can still engage in activities with them. Going to their competitions to support them, help them with make-up and hair... You can give your opinion on leotards they are thinking of getting, and give them hand putting rhinestones on their leotards.

Gymnasts that did great things after their retirement

Here are a few great examples of how to move on in life after a gymnastics career has come to an end. They succeeded greatly at projects and ambitions after retiring.

Melitina Staniouta

The three-time (2015, 2013, 2010) World all-around bronze medalist, the 2015 European Games all-around bronze medalist, the 2014 European Championships all-around silver medalist, and 2009 Grand Prix Final all-around bronze medalist had her hands full after her retirement.

Staniouta has been involved with the Belarusian media and she had a TV fitness show, and she has appeared in a commercial ad for Bon Aqua. But the most remarkable things sha has done after the Olympics are arguably becoming one of Belarus' United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Celebrity representatives; speaking out against the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko and police brutality in her country.

Her Instagram feed became an essential chronicle, documenting riot police battering peaceful civilians, security forces dragging men across the streets, and women's faces being caked in blood. She expressed she felt she had to spread the truth.

Almudena Cid

The former gymnast was the first Spanish gymnast in history to have competed in two Olympic finals, Atlanta and Sydney, and she is the only rhythmic gymnast to make the finals at four consecutive Olympic Games: Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. She also has an Apparatus Difficulty named after her, the Cid Tostado.

Although she retired from competition in 2008, Almudena remains a gymnast at heart, and she now has a very successful YouTube with rhythmic gymnastics tutorials, she has been involved in the world of broadcasting, commentating in a great number gymnastics competitions including the Olympic games, World Championships, and more. If that wasn't enough, she wrote a nine children's book collection about her experience as a competitive gymnast that inspired many young girls to join the sport.

Almudena also graduated from acting and appeared on numerous TV shows and movies in her home country, Spain.

Juliana Spicoluk

Juliana Spicoluk is known for being a renowned yogi, pilates teacher, and meditation expert with 2.63M followers on her YouTube channel, Boho Beautiful, a one-stop platform for all things new-age spirituality and wellness. What some people may not know, is that she was also a Canadian high-performance gymnast taking part in important international tournaments such as the Deriugina Cup in Kyiv, Ukraine. After her years as a gymnast, she built a very successful online career that involves traveling, photography, yoga, pilates, meditation, podcast production video and photo editing, and more.

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