Former Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson is in Chicago this weekend at Nike-sponsored events to help people get fit and reflect on the importance of the landmark Title IX decision, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
I was lucky enough to attend a special session and workout with Shawn and Nike Friday morning. Besides getting to meet an Olympian, I also got to hear from Shawn about what life is like for her now. Plus, Nike gave a presentation on some of their new – and very cool – technology, which I got to test out.
Johnson recently retired from gymnastics, the sport she fell in love with as a child. After sustaining an injury to her knee while skiing in 2010, Shawn attempted to make a comeback, but in the end decided to call it quits. Even though she won’t be competing, Shawn will be in London for this year’s games to do some commentating and fill various other roles.
She’s now focused on training for life, instead of just for her particular sport, she said Friday morning. So what is she doing, now that she’s moved on from just bars, beams, and mats?
“I’m trying everything new,” Johnson said. “I’m trying to find a niche, a new passion.”
After working almost solely on gymnastics for 17 years, it’s a bit of a struggle, both mentally and physically, to change her patterns, Johnson admitted to us. She said she often finds herself itching to go to the gym, but has to restrain herself – although that’s not always successful.
“My dad will call me at like, 10 at night and say, ‘where are you?’, and I’m like, ‘nowhere…’, and he’s like, ‘no, where are you?’, and I’m like, ‘I’m at the gym…’, and he says, ‘get home!’”
This isn’t the first time Johnson has dedicated herself to something outside of gymnastics, though. She mentioned her time on “Dancing With The Stars” being both amazing, terrifying, and a confidence-booster, because it showed her that she could do something other than gymnastics and be successful at it (Johnson and partner Mark Ballas won the mirror ball trophy in 2009). Perhaps the most surprising thing she had to say? She was more scared on opening night for DWTS than she was for the Olympics.