JESSICA: Remember this show is PG13, so you might hear a naughty word or two.
LISA: There’s no grey area, I don’t feel with myself and I’ve kind of come to realise I’m not everybody’s cup of tea but really I’m quite happy Im not everyone’s cup of tea? I’d much rather be a full glass of Courvoisier that is better with age and, you know, is an acquired taste.
[INTRO MUSIC EXPRESS YOURSELF]
JESSICA: This week, Lisa Mason is here. The British legend and 32yearold elite gymnast talks about her comeback, her decision to become a mother, being a normalsized human gymnast she’s 5 foot seven, throwing impromptu dance parties at the Tianjin World Championships in
1999, and the importance of ballet, people. Yes, ballet. This is episode 137 for February 18th I’m Jessica, I’m joined by Emma and this is the bestgymnastics podcast ever, bringing you all the most fascinating people from around the gymternet and I just wanna remind you guys, if you love the show, please consider supporting us. You know the rules, if you’ve listened five times, you basically have to donate whatever you want. It can be five dollars a month? it can be a dollar a month. You have to do something. If you can’t do that, you can rate us on iTunes or rate us on Stitcher, you can use our Amazon bookmark and shop through there? a little portion of what you spend goes back to us. Just go to the homepage and you‘ll see what to do. And remember we love hearing your feedback so you can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can leave a voicemail, which we love, we love voicemails and thank you Dan for leaving a voicemail this week. You can call us at 415 800 3191 or on Skype, you can call us for free [singing] for free! For free from anywhere in the World, our username is gymcastic podcast. And of course you can follow us or ask us something on Twitter. We are
very chatty on Twitter. We get back to everyone.
JESSICA: We all know gymnastics is a whole lot more fun when you’re not injured. That’s where
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EMMA: Before Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle, there was Lisa Mason. Lisa came to prominence at the Huntingdon Gymnastics Club home of Louis Smith, Dan Keatings, Luke Carson,
Rochelle Douglas and Marissa King. She broke down all of the barriers for British women in international competition. At fourteen, she was the youngest ever to win the senior British title and then went on to do it three times in a row a first for any Brit. She was the first Brit to win a Grand Prix gold, beating both Khorkina and Produnova. She made finals at the European
Championship and achieved the highest ever allaround placing for a British gymnast at World Championships. She helped Britain qualify a full team for the Sydney Olympics. This was the first time that GB had ever sent a full team. In Sydney, she qualified for the allaround finals, where she elected to compete vault again, after the height debacle. After the games she retired, started her own choreography company, became a stuntwoman, a sports model, and then became a mother in 2005. Leading up to the London Olympics in 2012, she was asked to perform in a gymnastics display at the games, along with Rebecca Wing, Danusia Francis and Marissa King. A few months later in January 2013, she announced her comeback and after only three months of training vault, she won the English vault title. In 2014, she was derailed at the English Championships by an ankle injury, but has since competed internationally again and started training allaround. Lisa is known for her frank and entertaining personality. See for yourself!
JESSICA: We started off by chatting about her daughter’s recent trampoline competition.
LISA: In trampolining. And she won, so she was happy.
EMMA: I saw. Amazing [claps] And she’s like beautiful and tall and like you. LISA: She’s got big bubble butt though, cracks me up. It’s so funny. JESSICA: It’s gonna be excellent on trampoline, then. It’s fantastic!
LISA: I was saying that today, though. All the girls are quite hippy in trampolining. EMMA: They are.
LISA: But she is one competing. She beat all the thirteen year olds. She’s only nine. EMMA: Wow.
JESSICA: Oh my gosh, that’s so exciting!
LISA: So she’s happy she’s made the National Final. So that that actually might be in March, as well, so I might not even be able to go to it because it might be the weekend of the English or
the British, so.
EMMA: Oh God, that’s rubbish.
LISA: But my mum gets to take her, so she’ll be happy. My mum can’t watch me anyway because she gets too nervous. [laughs]
JESSICA: Was she like that when you were younger, or is she just like that now?
LISA: What, oh my mum? Yeah she kind of gets I’m like my mum? I kind of just like speak my mind and not a lot of people like that, so I kind of banned her for a little while because she’d say things and it would just upset people and I was like ‘God’s sake, Mother! Just shush! Don’t say anything to anyone? anyone listens. Just shush.If you think something’s unfair, don’t say it. Just think it in your head’.
LISA: It’s hysterical. But yeah. It’s good though.
EMMA: I have to ask you this: why did you decide after all those years to make a comeback? And hadn’t you had enough the first time around?
LISA: Well no. I kind of came out of gymnastics and I weren’t ready. I was kind of like, came out of the Olympics and I just got a little bit bored of being a gymnast and wanted to be normal and turns out that’s not as great as I thought it would be. And then I did the show in London, like the opening ceremony bit. And I was just doing all the skills I could do and my coach was like ‘why don’t you just come back?’ and I’m like ‘um…ok why not?’ You know. I only did one and I pulled my ITB band and it was so painful that I couldn’t do the rest, so now
EMMA: Oh no.
LISA: Everyone said it was me on floor and it wasn’t [laughs]
JESSICA: Tell us for you what a typical training day for you is like. Like how many hours do you train? What do your sessions consist of? What do you do?
LISA: Well it kind of it varies, really. Like on the days that I don’t train, I generally go to like weights gyms and I go and workout at weights gyms and stuff. But in the gymnastics gym, I kind of do my own programme, really. Like I obviously do stuff with the girls but, you know, the stuff that they do and what I need is two completely different things. So normally it’s like warmup and we’ll do like a basic conditioning and stuff but I’ll go ahead and do like ballet and…I’m quite old school so I will do your basic dorsal raises and leg lifts and chin ups and stuff like that and they do like little complex plank holds and everything like that. And then generally, to be fair, most of the time we do all four pieces like every night. So we train like four five hours like in the evening and I do that like five days a week, so.
LISA: That’s about it, really. And I squat a lot [laughs]
JESSICA: And everyone on Instagram appreciates your squats.
LISA: My coach doesn’t appreciate my squats [laughs] He turned around to me the other day when I was on bars and I got stuck in handstand and I fell out and he was like ‘Well let’s be honest, Lisa, it’s not really a skill problem, it’s more of an arse problem isn’t it?’ I was like
‘Thanks Vince, I appreciate that’.
JESSICA: [laughs] But I mean you have a total power booty. Like when you do your series for beam, it looks like you’re not even trying? you just have total ass
JESSICA: Like how can you complain about that?
LISA: When you don’t see the back view, it shakes when it lands. [Jessica and Lisa laugh]
LISA: I had to work on that? I had to do a commercial and it was all in slow mo an oh my God, I nearly had a heart attack on there, I’m like oh my God, my legs are shaking. So yeah I’m kind of on a clean healthy eating and doing a lot more cardio to kind of slim down and, you know, relaxing a bit more on the weights and stuff at the moment. I need to get my backside into a leotard, so. It that worries me. I hate those things. They’re not flattering.
JESSICA: But I bet you did sell like a million more tickets when you did the Heathrow Hunnies Christmas display. Because we’re all joking like I bet any dad that goes to that gym is like ‘you know, I don’t think one time is enough. I mean I think we need to go every night to this’.
LISA: Do you know what, it’s so difficult doing those shows ‘cos they do like two shows a night and it like we do a complete like I think all in all, it’s about I think it’s ten shows, we do. So,
you know, it’s backtoback kind of thing. I’m quite good, though, like I don’t join in all the dance? I literally just did the tumbling display. So like all the other girls do like eight dance routines and all that they’re like ‘why aren’t you joining in?’ And I’m like I’m way too old to be sitting there dancing to what’s that song? All about the bass. Oh lord. No I can’t do it. I’m too old for that. I’d rather stand there and look pretty.
[Emma and Jessica laugh]
JESSICA: So speaking of tumbling, what was the hardest skill for you to get back and what was the easiest skill for you to get back?
LISA: Oh um…to be fair, I didn’t I think because I’d done so many numbers over the years, it wasn’t really a matter of getting the tumbles back, it was a more having the legs to be able to not land on my face [laugh] so I didn’t really find anything difficult to be I think this time round, because I don’t have a crazy teenage head on me, you know, I’m a lot more aware of what I’m doing with my body. So I probably found things a lot easier this time because like I know what I’m doing and coming from a coach’s point of view as well, I kind of understand more now than what I did as a gymnast before, so I wouldn’t say there was anything too difficult, to be fair.
JESSICA: And in terms of just the impact on your body, is there anything you’ve changed from the way that you train, besides like the mental aspect. Do you do less numbers or what?
LISA: Yeah I do less numbers. My coach always says ‘You know, you’re at the point, Lisa,
where you can either warm up or compete. You can’t do both’ [laughs] So I kind of just go in and do like little bits. Like I know my numbers, like I would rather like go into the gym and hit five beam routines clean than go into the gym and do ten beam routines and then not be able to
walk for like, you know, three days. So, you know, I know what I need to do in order to get the best out of me. And I know the skills, like I said, I’ve done, you know, hundreds of the numbers? I think it’s a bit like riding a bike once you know the skill, you know the skill, you know. So that’s been a I mean it freaks my coach out sometimes because at the British actually last year, I hadn’t actually warmed up any of my vaults. I hadn’t done my second vault, my handspring pike half, for about three days and because I rolled my ankle on the board in the warmup, I had like a grade two sprain and three torn ligaments, so I competed on that and he’s like ‘you’re not possibly going to go and do this second vault, are you?’ and I was like ‘course I am’ and he was like ‘well you haven’t done it in three days’ and I was like ‘That’s because I’m a professional. It’s fine’ [laughs] I come out and I nailed it and he just looks at me and goes ‘You bugger’. [laughs] I was like ‘you shouldn’t doubt me, you know, Vince. I do know what I’m doing’ I think he just has a little heart attack sometimes, so.
JESSICA: And speaking of vault, how did you adjust to the new vaulting table and find your setting and all that kind of stuff? How did you have to change your technique for that?
LISA: Oh my God, it was a bloomin nightmare. It was really especially with Yurchenkos, like obviously on the old vault, it if you ever did Yurchenkos, it was like it was very whippy because you had the tiny little vault to get your hands on. So when I first came back to do, you know, Yurchenkos, I found it very very difficult to like adjust. I mean, it’s a lot harder. I find it a lot
harder to vault on this table than I do on the old one. If I’m really honest because I feel like even with like handspring Tsuks and stuff, you can get right into the front of the old vault and you know, be able to block off more, whereas, you know, on this table, it’s flat and you can skim
your hands and, you know, I don’t know, I just found the old vault a lot easier to vault on than the new one. It still kind of freaks me out a little bit if I’m honest. But that’s how it goes, you know [laughs]
JESSICA: Yes totally. Did you have any fear problems coming back? Was there anything, especially vault, where you just balked on it a bunch of times until you could make yourself go for it or anything that gave you trouble with fear?
LISA: I hmm let me think. Not really. There’s not really anything I’ve gone like I’ve blocked on. Like I’ve been scared of skills, like oh my God how am I gonna do this? But I look like an absolute crazy person, I’m going ‘Lisa stop being so stupid, what are you scared of? Really, come on, think about it’ in the gym and these little girls are looking at me like ‘Why is she talking to herself?’ And I think the scariest one ‘cos I actually um relearnt my Tkatchev on bars and I haven’t done that for gosh nearly twenty years. So to get back up the last time I did it, like, the way that I’m doing it is when I snapped my arm at the Nationals. So to get back up on the bar and do that again, like kind of freaked me out? I was like ‘Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God’ so that was I would say probably the scariest, but I still got up and did it and, you know, I think I’m probably just mind over matter isn’t it, really?
JESSICA: Mmhmm. EMMA: Yeah.
JESSICA: So do you think you’re gonna be doing allaround this year?
LISA: Yes definitely doing allaround. Definitely. I’ve done a few I’ve added a few skills into well all pieces actually, so I feel more confident it’s very difficult coming back. I had a lot of pressure when I first came back and I didn’t I think it showed that I wasn’t very confident. I mean I suffered really bad with nerves and, you know, I think now like this year I feel a lot stronger and I feel way more confident now and, you know, coming back, I’ve got numbers I’ve got more numbers behind me as well. You know, the programme I’ve got set I think is better for me as
well so, you know I’m actually really looking forward to going out and actually competing my new floor as well, so you know. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how it goes.
JESSICA: We’re excited, for sure. So are there any new skills that you’re working on or any skills like you used to do like the full on beam or anything that we’ll be seeing this year.
LISA: Yeah I’ve got on beam oh my God, I’ve got like six lengths in my beam routine at the moment. It’s crazy. I’ll be doing my flic full again. I’ve added in like a front somi but I do my front somi on beam like the old school way. It’s like a jack front way.
JESSICA: Mmhmm. Yes.
LISA: So like it’s really weird, all the girls try to figure it out, like ‘how do you do that?’ and I’m like ‘I don’t know’. I’m just like It works in my head. I don’t know, I use my butt to my advantage [laughs] ‘Cos if I do it the old way, it just drops me down to my butt on the floor, so I’ve added that. I’ve upped my dismount. Been working two and a halves and triples. On floor I’m still kind
of umming and ahhing what we’re doing with regards to tumbles. I’ve got my full twisting double tuck back. I’ve also learnt handspring two and a half forward, which, you know, are worth the same they’re both Es, so yeah so it’s kind of figuring out what’s gonna work better because I kind of need to box smart, as they say.
LISA: You know, so yeah. I’ve upped my vault as well, so working one and a halves. I’ve been working doubles but I don’t think it’s gonna be ready. So we shall see. I struggle actually doing half twists as oppose to doing like fulls. Like I find it so much easier to like double and triple than I would to like one and a half and two and a half.
LISA: I kind of feel like I’m a pigeon that’s been shot out of the sky when I half twist [laughs] JESSICA: [laughs]
LISA: Just like bang and I’m like ugh. [laughs] It’s not good.
JESSICA: Speaking of vault, I was totally thinking of you when I was watching Fragapane at Commonwealth Games and her in the vault finals, her I feel like your like Fragapane has great difficulty, but you have really nice form on everything. And especially on vault. And I feel
like that’s definitely something that has been lost in vault as there’s a lot of, you know, someone has a really high D score their difficulty is up there but their E score is like an eight or a seven point five because they have so many form problems. So do you think that you will have an advantage with in terms of your E score on vault?
LISA: Yeah definitely. I mean like that’s when I’m saying, like I wanna box smart. You know, that’s what I need to take into account, you know. You look at Catherine Lyons, she she’s beautiful to watch and her execution is just so minimal that she just doesn’t matter that her difficulty is not up there, you know, and I know that the moment, kind of everyone is chasing that score, you know, and they’re not worried like you said about, you know, losing the deductions
on form but I think you know, I’m always gonna be one of those classic gymnasts? it’s installed
in me now anyway, so and Rochelle comes from that generation and, you know, she’s installed it in Catherine and her other little ones, so I think that will definitely be, well I’m hoping it’s gonna be an advantage for me anyway [laughs]
JESSICA: Yes and so are we. We’re on team good form over everything. That is what we love. LISA: You know I just go out there and put on a show, at least I make it look nice, though
JESSICA: Well what are your goals for 2015? Do you have something specific in mind or are you just taking it one meet at a time, or?
LISA: Definitely one meet at a time. It’s just it’s been difficult like because I just I everything kind of comes from the British, doesn’t it? So I don’t think really anyone knows what they’re doing kind of until they know the results from the British and stuff. I mean I’ve got a few options but not kind of ready to discuss those yet [laughs] so I don’t know, I just want to see how it goes for the English and British and then obviously make decisions from there. Obviously I’ll be going out to IGC and stuff again this year and my coach was talking about a few club he wants to
take our club out to where was he saying, Slovakia or somewhere? I think. Some meet out there, so, you know, until I do the British, I don’t really know what I’m doing. It’s kind of just like we’ll see what happens.
JESSICA: Well we’re super excited to watch and see what happens. EMMA: Totally.
EMMA: Lisa, who’s your current coach? Is it the same coach that you had in the olden days? LISA: In the olden days, no, in the olden days I had Terry Sharpington when I was at
Huntingdon. Unfortunately, Terry passed away like a few years back now so I actually train at Heathrow and my coaches are Vince and Michelle Walduck and Natalia Ilienko, actually. You might remember her? she was the World Champion.
EMMA: Oh my gosh. Yeah.
LISA: So she’s my floor and vault coach. Michelle’s my beam coach and Vince is my bar coach. It’s a really good team, like they’re good together, you know.
EMMA: They as well, at Heathrow, they have like a long line of beautiful gymnasts, don’t they? Like, you know, Rebecca Wing and Nush and Laura, so you’re in the best place, I think.
LISA: I think you know right now, definitely I feel just at home with them. Everything just fits in nicely and I think it, to be fair I’ve been to a lot of, you know, clubs around the World and I think Heathrow sticks out, you know, massively for me because the loyalty that they show you is just something I’ve never really experienced if I’m honest and it’s more than just a gymnastics club, it is like a home. Like it doesn’t matter how long like even when Becky Wing and stuff, they come back and they haven’t seen them for like two years, they come in and it’s like they’ve never left so, you know, it’s completely different. It’s home, you know?
EMMA: That’s lovely. Ok so we ask every gymnast who’s had more than one coach the same question and it’s what did you learn at Huntingdon and at Heathrow that you use in your gymnastics?
LISA: God. I don’t even know. I was I was [laughing] I think I was just mental when I was at Huntingdon. I was you know, I was a kid, wasn’t I so being at Heathrow, you know, I’m a grown adult. I don’t really know. That’s a difficult question to answer.
JESSICA: Some people say like you know, they got their artistry from one gym and they got their tumbling or their vault technique from another and, you know.
LISA: Yeah ok. So then I would say then obviously like my artistry and stuff was very much installed from Huntingdon. You know I had my choreographer was Monica Beru and she was you know Marissa’s coach, you know she did choreo with Louis and, you know, Kaley Cook, all of them guys, like Dan Keatings and stuff as well. So ballet was was a massive part of our programme, you know, at Huntingdon. And I think I still do ballet now and I don’t think a lot of people do it anymore and I think it’s a shame because, you know I think it can
EMMA: It is a shame.
LISA: It does help massively. I find it very weird, actually, that, you know, we kind of did everything. Like even in line warm up, like even if you never did a free walkover, you’d still do it in lines, you know. We did absolutely everything in I think the basics that were instilled were what made gymnastics beautiful. I think it’s changed and it’s all about power now I guess. Like you were saying earlier on. But with regards to Heathrow, I think they’ve…I guess they they’ve taught me to enjoy it more, I guess. And take everything just in my stride and if it goes wrong, it goes wrong. If it doesn’t, you know, great. They’ve taught me to be a lot more patient. So yeah I think that’s probably the advantages and disadvantages of everything what I’ve learned what Huntingdon and that, you know.
JESSICA: And so what’s it like being back now, you know, working out with the girls who were maybe not even born when you competed last. What’s the dynamic like in the gym?
LISA: Oh do you know what, like I said, Heathow’s like not like any club that I’ve ever been to. The kids there they’re just they’re just good kids. They’re absolutely crazy. Like it’s funny actually because one of the younger ones, her name’s India, she was talking to me the other
day and she said ‘My dad was asking me questions about you the other day’, I was like oh God. Sitting there freaking out. And she was going ‘No he was just asking if it was like really weird
and if I told her off in the gym because obviously I’m like pretty much the same age as her mum
[laughs]. And she goes ‘But it’s not weird, is it Lisa? Because you’re like one of us’ and I was like ‘Right thanks India. I appreciate that’ [laughs] I was like I’ve got my own child? I don’t need to tell off anyone else’s child, thank you. It’s like my day off. When I go into the gym, I’m in gymnast mode, not mummy mode. So.
JESSICA: [laughing] Oh I love that the other parents are wondering if you’re disciplining their kids.
LISA: [laughing] Like that’s your job, that’s not my job.
JESSICA: So was Lilleshall around? Was there a national team camp programme when you were competing before and is have you been back or experienced that now?
LISA: Yeah, I mean we were the first to have the centralized system. So you know, we lived at Lilleshall. Oh God, living at Lilleshall. It was so hard [laughs] it was so hard. You think like in those days, we didn’t have anything like we didn’t have iPads and stuff like that, so , you know, we used to get up to so much just naughtiness and just oh gosh, yeah. It was it was very difficult. But like I said, we were the first like generation to have a centralized system there, so
we were there 24/7. We used to train six days a week, eight hours a day, so it was intense. Very intense. And it’s in the middle of nowhere anywhere so we couldn’t even run away and go anywhere [laughing] so.
JESSICA: So what sort of trouble did you get up to? Can you share any of those stories? LISA: Oh my gosh. Lord. Well like I said, like we didn’t have any iPads or anything like that so
we weren’t allowed in the bar ‘cos all the coaches would be there so we used to break into the
gym. That’s really bad. [laughs] Me, Rochelle, Paula Thomas, Melissa Wilcox, I think Natalie Lucit was there. We literally just they never used to lock the front doors but they would always lock the gym doors so we used to climb like walk up onto the top of the balcony and we used to take it in turns to like jump down [laughs] So whoever would jump down first would go and get a crash mat so that everyone else could jump down safely. And we’d literally just go absolutely mad and just double bounce each other on the trampolines. We’d be knackered and the coach would be sitting there wondering why the hell were were so tired. We’d be up we were like crazy I mean they kind of upgraded their cameras at one point so that they could see in the
dark [laughing] so they knew when we were breaking in like after a few years of doing it. But yeah we used to get up to all kinds of craziness. But it’s fun. Good memories though.
JESSICA: I love that like this is totally, you know everybody makes fun of that show Stick It
was it Stick It or no Make It or Break It, that we had on TV here. LISA: It felt like that was my life, though, Stick It.
[Lisa and Emma laugh]
JESSICA: Yes! I’m like no you guys, like people make fun of this but everything that’s
happened in this really happened in gymnastics and this is more proof like they totally do this in
the show. They break in in the middle of the night and play around. Of course you did that. I love it.
LISA: It’s funny ‘cos when I went when I went to England squad training and I’m sitting there with all the coaches, and they hear all these noises and the kids are in the gym, jumping around on the trampolines and I’m absolutely killing myself with laughter. All the coaches are going mental and I was like ‘you can’t be mad at them half of you went into the gym and flipping did it yourselves [laughing] so you can’t really be mad at them’!
EMMA: When you first made your comeback, didn’t you wear your original leos?
LISA: I did. I had leotards that were like older than the gymnasts I was competing against. It was crazy.
EMMA: That’s amazing.
LISA: I like to call it my vintage my vintage leotard. It was so funny. I came in, I think I had it was a black velour one, as well. It was fabulous. Loved it.
EMMA: There can’t be much holding in in velour, can there? LISA: No but
EMMA: The ones now are like supertight, you could bounce a coin off them.
LISA: Oh my God, I feel like a Power Ranger. This is why I have to design my own leotards. I feel like someone has taken loads of Quality Street wrappers and stuck them together and put a made up leotard. I’m like I’m too old to be wearing foil around my body! Please stop. Let me design my own.
EMMA: Oh goodness. So I just made a casual observation over the past couple of years and there’s so many older girls doing amazing things yourself, Adriana Crisci from Italy, Vasiliki, Chusovitina of course and Marta from Poland. We need like a like a…an older ladies league.
LISA: That would be actually pretty awesome. I don’t know why no one’s done that yet, to be fair.
EMMA: No, I don’t either. I think you should do it. I think it should be called the Lisa Mason league.
LISA: [laughs] EMMA: Get it done.
LISA: Oh my God, I think they’re trying to keep everyone young forever, you know. So I don’t know if that would happen.[laughs] It would be good. Maybe if someone’s listening they can organize that for us. The Golden League.
EMMA: That would be amazing.
LISA: Make sure there’s prize money though. [laughs] EMMA: Yes. Yeah like like the World Cups.
EMMA: And I think there’s so many guys out there that, you know, they won’t make their National Teams any more but they’re still like on the cusp of it, you know, so get let’s get a Golden League sorted.
LISA: I think everybody brings something else. I think the older you get, obviously the wiser you are. I think the older generation like myself and the guys you were mentioning, I think we bring a certain pizzazz to it. Definitely.
EMMA: Yeah. definitely.
LISA: You know? Throw, you know, Ponor in there as well. It’ll be good. [laughs] EMMA: Oh yeah. I think she’s coming back for another comeback.
LISA: Apparently so.
EMMA: So we shall see. So let me talk about leogate. So for the British last year, you designed your own leotard with Milano, the leo company. And it was so beautiful and then a few months later, team GB wore the exact same one in Nanning. Did you think this was really annoying that they used your design or were you super flattered that they were wearing it?
LISA: I wouldn’t say annoying. What’s the saying that they say? The highest form of flattery is, you know, what do they call it?
EMMA: Umm… JESSICA: Imitation? LISA: That’s the one.
EMMA: Imitation is the highest form of flattery
LISA: The highest form of flattery is imitation so, you know, that’s the way I kind of saw it. You know. If I couldn’t be there, the leotard was. [laughs]
EMMA: Yeah. Fair play to you.
LISA: But no I wasn’t like upset about that. You know. I think they came out really good, they looked good in the red and very flattering in the training leotard, so.
LISA: Yeah, no it was good. There are some fabulous designs for the British this year, though. EMMA: Oh hurrah. Can’t wait to see that.
LISA: I like to do mine all different. It’s funny. I think the designers at Milano, they get quite annoyed with me ‘cos I’m like ‘can I have this’ and ‘can you do this and make it so it does this and go up more and do that and can we have a high neck, and not a low neck and da da da da da da da’ and they’re just like [sighs]. It’s always back and forth. I need my own line of leotards, that’s what I need. The Lisa Mason signature collection. I’d be quite happy with that.
LISA: What it is, I feel like leotards are kind of made… well, they are made for young girls and there is a lot of money in leotard sales are in lower level gymnastics, let’s be honest, because most of the top ones get theirs free anyway. So you know I think a lot of those girls are not doing those hours and they don’t look like, you know, these elite gymnasts and they are more curvy and I think, you know, leotards do need to kind of, you know, definitely change a little bit and at least kind of… make curvier girls a little bit more flattering in a leotard as oppose to making them look bigger than they actually are, you know.
EMMA: I totally agree.
LISA: I think there’s a market for it, you know. Just finding someone that will come in with me, there you are. [laughs]
EMMA: Yeah totally agree. This episode of GymCastic’s like the Apprentice or Dragon’s Den. We’re having so many ideas.
LISA: I know [laughs]
JESSICA: I know. I’ve already decided Louis Smith and you have to go into business together. New leotards and the Golden League. We have to make this happen.
JESSICA: I’m gonna give him a call after this. LISA: [laughs]
EMMA: He’s too busy with his hot tubs. JESSICA: His hot tubs.
LISA: And he’s got a girlfriend.
JESSICA: He’s doing that show, though, later this year, he said in some one of those famous theatres that you have, like gymnastics parkour kind of IGCish
EMMA: Yes. Albert Hall. JESSICA: Yes.
LISA: Royal Albert Hall. I don’t know. We don’t know. Louis always keeps his business quite close to his chest, so.
JESSICA: He does, well. I’ll just let him know all of my thoughts. Even if he has no interest, I’ll just tell him. Do you think when we talked to Louis on the show, he was kind of like and you’ve admitted this too, he was like we asked him do you get distracted by all of the beautiful women training in the gym um and he was like you know, Lisa always used to crack me up because she had quite a strong personality very diplomatic strong personality, you used to crack him up when he was growing up in the gym. And you’ve also talked about that, that you were kind of a diva when you were training when you were younger and did admit that you could have worked harder. Like do you think that you could have achieved more if you were more serious or had a different perspective when you were younger?
LISA: Um…potentially. I think the era that I was in, it was very very different. It wasn’t so much about what you could do? it was more about who you knew and what leotards you were in as oppose to, you know, the skill work and and and doing that. ‘Cos you know, when it came to competition, I always, you know, pulled it out of the bag and broke many records for Great Britain so, I think, you know, yes I could have been quite lazy but, you know, I don’t I’m much more a performer, I think, than the actual kind of hard graft that needs to do a thousand routines to feel comfortable to go and and perform it. You know?
JESSICA: And so there was definitely more politics back then?
LISA: Oh yes definitely. I mean there’s always going to be politics in gymnastics because it’s based on people’s opinions isn’t it? So is it a fair sport? No not really. It’s not ever a clear win like athletics or something. Like I said it’s based on a panel of, you know judges and their opinions, you know, one might turn around and go oh that was only a point one deduction and one might go no we’ll actually take a point three for that one. So it’s always someone’s opinion but I think it’s a lot harder to be as political as it was back then. Definitely it’s a lot harder to do it nowadays.
JESSICA: And do you I mean one of the things that I think the gymnastics fans always appreciate about you and one of the reasons that I think you’re such a popular figure in gymnastics is of course because you’ve achieved so much, but that goes without saying, but also because you’re a person who always wears your heart on your sleeve and you’re, you know, known for being outspoken and we always know how you feel about things. Is there anything that you regret putting out there and you wish that you hadn’t let people know what you were thinking right then?
LISA: I mean, do you know what it is? I think I’ve learnt to have a lot more tact now [laughs] That’s the difference. You know what it is? I’m not what I would deem as your more British type. I think correct me if I’m wrong, Emma, but you know I think we’re very sit there, drink our tea like Kermit the Frog and not really say much. There’s no grey area I don’t feel with myself and I’ve come to realise that I’m not everybody’s cup of tea but really I’m quite happy I’m not everyone’s cup of tea? I’d much rather be a nice tall glass of Courvoisier that is better with age and, you know, is an acquired taste so [laughs]
EMMA: Me too.
JESSICA: That’s a fabulous way to describe yourself, too. I love it.
EMMA: Tell us about your former and your current training partners so you’ve got like Louis and Dan and Rochelle and Marissa and then over at Heathrow there’s Nush and Laura and Marissa etc. Tell us some stuff about those guys.
LISA: Well I never actually trained with Marissa at Huntingdon. She came like a lot later than me. Louis was always little. My training partner at Huntingdon was actually Paula Thomas. Um and she went to the Olympics as well, in Sydney.
EMMA: That’s right.
LISA: She’s probably like the only person from my team that I actually speak to. She is like my filter. When I’m going a bit mental I’ll ring her up and she’s been one of my, you know, biggest supporters coming back as well. She keeps me sane but me and her were like it was crazy, we
met at Regional Squad when we were younger and I literally just said to her ‘You need to come here. You need to be at Huntingdon. You can’t be at this other club. Me and you need to be best friends’ And she was like ‘ok’ [laughs] And she kind of just got up, left her gym club and came to Huntingdon and like, you know, we’ve just been she was like my sister I never had, you know and we were really really close so we always did mental things? she was the other one. Me and Rochelle, we obviously, we trained together at squad and we were just [laughing] oh we were just pains in the backsides to our coaches. We used to drive them up the wall. With regards to Heathrow, obviously Laura Mitchell has just gone out to the States and she’s competing out there.
EMMA: She’s doing very well.
LISA: I am so so proud of her. Like she the last two years of me being at Heathrow, I have kind of like seen her grow from, you know, this teenage girl into this young woman and like find herself and…like I’m so so proud of what she’s doing right now and she’s out there doing her thing and I miss her like crazy when she’s not in the gym. We used to sit there and wind up Vince all the time. You know, she’s such a good soul like her heart’s really just
LISA: She’s a good girl. I’ve got a lot of time for her, I really do. And like I said, very very proud of her so.
EMMA: Ok so let’s talk about your daughter. So you had your daughter in your early twenties and how did you find the transition from you’re an olympian to suddenly you’re a mother with, you know, a million and one responsibilities?
LISA: Um I guess it’s like anything, isn’t it? You kind of just, you know, you go with it and it was it was it was very strange because you know, you go from being so active to kind of just, you know, being at home with a lack of sleep and everything else but I think for me, she was, you know, she’s definitely taught me to be very patient and, you know, I would say a hell of a lot more grateful for all the things I have. She was actually quite a sick baby so, you know, I was in and out of hospital with her a lot. So you know, I’ve been…like I said, she’s taught me a lot and she’s, you know, made me realise that I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. You know, I think she came at the right time, if I’m honest with regards to that because in a place where I needed change, and I changed for her.
EMMA: Yeah. In 2004 you did a comeback and competed at the British Championships um but then in an interview you said that you fell pregnant and therefore had to give up that comeback plan. Could you tell us about the decision to become a mother at that time?
LISA: Well it was kind of like I didn’t I didn’t know [laughs]
LISA: [laughs] I only found out when I was three months pregnant, so it was EMMA: Wow. Were you still training then?
LISA: I was. EMMA: Wow.
LISA: I had literally just been I had only been in training for six months. I literally was training for six months. And then at the competition, I found out I was three months and I was like whoa. [laughs]
LISA: And it was just I guess it wasn’t really an option for it to be anything else, you know. It was kind of, you know, things could have, you know, been different, I could have made other choices but I didn’t think that maybe I could potentially have done followed through with that choice. You know, and at that point I had been with my partner at that point for you know a few years so I don’t know it was just one of those things that happened and you know I don’t regret it that I had do I wish I’d waited a little bit? Yeah, but you know
EMMA: But then even though… sort of my friends now are in their late thirties having babies. There’s no right time.
LISA: No definitely I don’t think you’re ever ready. EMMA: No.
LISA: Even if you plan. you’re never ready and… I do it by myself, you know, I’m a single mum and I don’t have help from her dad. He’s not around and my support system is my mum, you know, and none of this comeback would be possible without her, you know. My daughter’s so well behaved, anyone that meets her, like you know, she’s got such good manners. She comes to the gym with me because she’s a trampolinist so it works because she trains at the same time as me, you know, and she’s just a very outgoing, you know, pleasant young girl and I couldn’t really ask for a better child, to be fair. She complements my life. She doesn’t make it
difficult and like I said, none of this comeback would never have been possible without my mum because, you know, when I’m working at IGC, she goes to my mum and if I’ve got Nationals and stuff, she goes to my mum and my mum is my backbone at the moment.
EMMA: That’s lovely. So I’ve got to ask you some sort of silly ones now. Was your labour super fast and easy since you have the muscles of a superhuman?
LISA: It was not. I was in 23 hours of labour with her. It was horrible. EMMA: [laughing] Oh my God.
LISA: 23 hours. I remember when I actually gave birth to her, they were like ‘do you want to hold her?’ and I was like ‘No, I want to have a shower’
LISA: I just wanted to get out, I just felt so gross. I didn’t have any painkillers or anything. EMMA: See, you are superhuman.
LISA: [laughs] It’s only because they scare me, they really do. I’m not ready to have no needle in my spine [laughs]
EMMA: So a lot of Jess’ friends complain that they feel like they need to pee when they come back to gymnastics after giving birth. Especially on tumble and trampoline.
LISA: Oh yeah [laughs]
EMMA: Did you have to do any special I’m saying this is not what I would say did you have to do any special vajayjay strengthening to get back to gymnastics?
LISA: [laughs] Oh my God, you’re killing me right now! EMMA: [laughs]
JESSICA: It’s a very serious question!
LISA: I should totally plug a Tena lady advert right now. EMMA: You should!
LISA: I’m telling you it’s not only mothers that suffer with that. Other gymnasts do suffer from that problem.
EMMA: Oh my goodness.
LISA: No, not I never really did. I only did the exercises that my doctor told me to do after I had her. But you know, your pelvic floor exercises but that’s it. Yeah some sexy bringing sexy back right now.
[Emma and Jessica laugh]
EMMA: Bet you don’t wear mum jeans, though, Lisa. LISA: I don’t.
EMMA: And I bet you never have.
LISA: No. I don’t. Like it’s quite funny because I teach in schools as well and obviously a lot of the kids know me and like I think my daughter used to get a little bit embarrassed until all the kids were like ‘oh my God, your mum’s so cool’ and she was like ‘I know, I know’. And like all these kids were coming up to me and they was like thirteen, they was like ‘Miss, I love your trainers. They’re sick! You’ve got so much swag for a teacher!
LISA: I was like ‘thank you, darlings’. And then I got told off. They told me off because I couldn’t wear my Jordans in school anymore because they distracted the children. I was like oh my God.
EMMA: Oh no. That’s sad So we love seeing your Instagram posts of your living room conditioning exercises and your no excuses mantra. A lot of parents complain they don’t have any time or energy to do sports or hobbies of their own. What advice do you have for them?
LISA: Um I think it’s a difficult one ‘cos everyone’s life is different and I think with regards to fitness and health, it’s a normal thing for me. Like that’s my life. You know, and I think without sounding badminded, like a lot of people see it as a chore and can’t be bothered. You know, and it’s a lot easier and to be fair, it’s hard. If you’re on the breadline, to go out and eat healthy, you know, like I said I think I tweeted it on Twitter the other week, you can spend ten pounds in Iceland and get, you know, fries and chicken nuggets
EMMA: A whole week’s worth of food.
LISA: Worth of food and the ten pound will get me a salad and a drink in Wholefoods [laughing]
EMMA: Of course. Yeah. It is, it’s terrible.
LISA: I think it’s embracing it and making it part of your life and enjoying it as oppose to making it seem like it’s a chore and it is like little things, you know, like, you know, while you’re sitting there watching TV, watching Eastenders, you know, stand up and do squats and watch Eastenders, you know or, you know, stretch out or do just little things. And I think, like I said, it’s finding the balance and embracing it as opposed to ‘oh God, I can’t be bothered’.
EMMA: Yeah definitely.
LISA: And I think I’m way too vain to let myself go, if I’m honest. EMMA: Yay! That’s ace.
LISA: I’m telling you. I’m telling you.
JESSICA: Like this is the most time squats have ever been mentioned in one podcast. I love it. EMMA: I’m gonna get out of bed in the morning and do some squats.
LISA: Well do you know what it is? It’s my age. Gravity’s not on my side now, ladies. I have to squat.
EMMA: We’re older than you, miss Mason.
LISA: Well you’re not trying to fit into a leotard! [laughs] JESSICA: It’s true
LISA: I don’t know, Emma, what you do with your part time but
JESSICA: So we always ask gymnasts on the show about normal human height and there’s so many gymnasts who are considered tall when really they’re just normal people size. Like you’re five seven, right?
JESSICA: Yep. And so I wonder, did anyone ever discourage you from doing gymnastics when you were younger, saying you’re too tall for this?
LISA: Oh yeah definitely. I mean…like my the person I looked up to was Boginskaya because for me, she was the first gymnast that I saw that was like me. She had these long legs and she was just slim and she was just doing stuff that you know, she was this, you know, superstar in gymnastics so I loved her, you know, ‘cos everyone else was saying ‘oh no, you’re too tall. You can’t do that’ I mean, I could chuck some skills, you know, and I was doing like double layouts on floor and the National coach was telling me I wasn’t allowed to do that because I was too tall and I was like ‘But I’m doing it. I can do it. I just showed you I can do it’. You know, you can’t do this ‘cos you’re too tall, you know, so yeah. I mean it does make it harder, especially on bars,
you know, manoeuvres are longer, I feel a bit sluggish on bars but yeah I was definitely told, you
know ‘You’re not a naturally you know, you’re not a natural gymnast are you? It’s gonna be quite difficult for you’ And I just used to laugh. I like proving people wrong.
EMMA: Yes. JESSICA: Yes.
LISA: You know. It’s that rebel in me. Someone says ‘you can’t do that’, I go ‘Yes I can’. [laughs] Don’t press the button Lisa! Ok, now I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it.
JESSICA: And has your daughter like she looks like she’s gonna be tall, like you. Not tall like normal human height. Is her dad tall, do you think that she
LISA: No. I mean my daughter’s like well basically, the height thing comes from my mum. My mum is actually six foot one. My dad, however, is a five foot four Italian looking guy. So the height kind of comes from my mum’s side and the backside comes from my dad’s side so my daughter is gonna be tall like my mum. We were all very leggy and skinny when we were little, me and my brothers. So, you know, that height does definitely comes from my mum’s side.
JESSICA: And has she run into any negative comments about her height? Is she are you defending her from any nonsense like that?
LISA: No. I think to be honest, I think people are too scared to say anything to her. JESSICA: [laughs]
LISA: Because of who I am. It was quite funny, actually. ‘Cos there was this one guy and I think he was giving my daughter a bit of gip in the gym. I called him up and said to him, I said ‘listen, you do not tell my daughter what to do, that’s what the coaches are there for’ And he just looked absolutely petrified and he’s her best friend now. But no I think with regards to the coaches, I’m very strict with her like this is why I didn’t want her to go into artistic. I think it’s either a blessing or a curse her being in artistic because of who I am so I kind of wanted her to find something of her own. So, you know, trampolining and tumbling is something she’s really good at. But, you know, I have to say to her coaches, don’t not tell her off because of me, you know, if she’s being a little madam, you tell her off. Don’t be soft on her ‘cos she’s a cunning little madam. She definitely knows what she’s doing. I don’t know who she gets that from [laughs] But you know I have to say to her coaches, make sure she’s doing it, don’t be soft on her. Go on, just tell her
off, it’s fine. You know, so.
EMMA: Tell us about the work that you’ve done in the States with IGC and Pro Gym Challenge and those sorts of things and would you recommend them to any other gymnast?
LISA: Oh my God, definitely. IGC is like a gymnastics utopia. I absolutely love it. I can’t wait to go back? I’m getting withdrawal symptoms already. It’s just it’s just awesome. What can I say? They have a slide that goes from the top of the hill to the bottom. It’s a water slide. What can be better than that? And you have waffles for breakfast. I actually put on a lot of weight every time I go over there. It’s terrible. I need to start cooking for myself when I go there. But I mean they’ve got like five gyms. It’s ridiculous. You know they’ve got a beam gym and they’ve got a vault gym and they’ve got the Olympic pit gym. I mean this pit goes deep? I don’t like going in it because literally you hit it and you just disappear. It freaked me out? I felt like I was going in a coffin. I was scared. I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t go back in the pit after that. They’ve got like dance halls, they’ve got and it’s great because it really does get these kids together to become kids and I think, you know, social media has just taken over the world and all the kids have iPhones and iPads and the only way they know how to communicate properly is through text message and half of the time it’s short and you can’t understand what they’re saying so it really does encourage the kids to bond and be kids. They take their phones off of them, there’s no TVs, you know, it’s all team building exercises and communicating and, you know, it’s just so much fun and I think the kids have an absolute blast there I mean if you are, you know, a gym junkie, you will absolutely love it. It’s so much fun and there’s so many kids from so many different countries around the world that come and yeah I just couldn’t plug it enough. Seriously it’s just you
know, there’s not a facility in the world like it at all. And it’s an experience and if you can get a chance to go out, I would definitely definitely recommend it. ‘Cos even with the coaches, ‘cos there are coaches and like gym clubs that go out there and the coaches learn because they have, you know, some of the biggest heads in US gymnastics go out there and they do like tutorials with the coaches so the coaches learn at the same time as the gymnasts. You know, so everyone gets something out of it. You know you can’t go there and say ‘I didn’t learn something’. You know, whether it be in the gym or out of the gym, like ‘I learnt how to communicate’, you know there’s always something you’ll gain from it. It’s just so much fun. It’s just so much fun.
EMMA: What was the Pro Gym Challenge like to do?
LISA: Oh it was awesome. Like, I think I’m hoping they’re gonna do another series. You know the rumour is they’re going to. I don’t know, you know, what’s gonna happen but, you know, it was great because I made so many new friends when I did that and it was great to be back in the environment of people that you know, on my kind of level, I guess. You know? It was just it was like…everyone was just themselves. Obviously there were ups and downs with it, there
were so many personalities, some people clash and some people don’t and some people get on and some people just are whatever, but you know, in general, it was just such a good experience. It was great. And I think it should be a continuous yearly thing. I think, you know, it brings a certain sexiness to the sport that I think is lacking. And I think it encourages older gymnasts particularly, to come out of college gymnastics and stuff and to maybe even
potentially stay on for that year or so just to go out and do that and ‘cos it’s not about routines, it’s about, you know, doing something different and, you know, Jana Bieger, the stuff that that girl does is just absolutely crazy [laughing]
EMMA: Oh it makes me sad about her because, seriously, she should have gone to Germany then she would have gone to the Olympics and all that.
LISA: I think she was a talent that…I don’t think they utilized her enough
EMMA: Exactly. Exactly.
LISA: But I think that’s a common thing that happens in gymnastics EMMA: Yeah.
LISA: If someone just doesn’t fit.
EMMA: So let me just quickly sneak in another TV gymnastics question. Tumble recently on in the UK: did you get asked to be involved with that?
LISA: [laughs] I did get asked. I did get asked to be one of the um EMMA: Pros?
LISA: Professionals. But I got told that my personality would outshine the celebrities. EMMA: [laughs] Yes it would!
LISA: And I was like ‘well make me a judge’ and they were like ‘yeah but we’ve got four judges’ and I was like ‘but there’s three guys and one girl. That’s not fair’ [laughs] So yeah. I think yeah. I was a little bit disappointed if I’m honest, because I was kind of looking forward to doing it.
EMMA: You would have shook it up a whole lot.
LISA: Yeah, I think, like I said, they wanted it all about the celebrities and I would have had an unfair advantage if I was the celebrity, so [laughs] Although I did try that hoop. Oh my God I’ve never felt so sick in my life.
EMMA: Yeah. I bet you were bruised to anything, as well. LISA: Oh it was not nice. It was not nice at all.
EMMA: It looks like a torture implement.
LISA: [laughs] I was laughing because obviously my coach was one of the coaches.
EMMA: Yeah, Natalia.
LISA: Yeah and she’s so funny. She’s like ‘I can’t cope. I’m never gonna complain about these gymnasts ever again. She goes everything hurts, I just wanna cry all the time, it just does my head in!’ [laughs]
EMMA: Oh my goodness.
LISA: I think it was really difficult. I think they took on the challenge very very well. I think they thought it was gonna be a lot easier because gymnasts make it look so easy.
LISA: You know and I think the only people that can really understand what those celebrities went through were people in the sport because everyone else from the outside would go ‘oh that’s rubbish, she’s only doing a forward roll’ and it’s like well actually, you know, some people can’t even hold their own body weight on a bar, let alone, you know.
EMMA: Some people can’t even touch their toes.
LISA: Exactly. So these guys literally did get put through bootcamp and it was very difficult and, like I said, I think they did really well with what they did, you know, but for a show that would reoccur, you know, I don’t know if it was good enough in that sense of things.
EMMA: So, moving on swiftly to boys. Tell us about your love for the US boys, ‘cos I see you’re big friends with Paul Ruggeri, who I absolutely love and I think he’s just put him on a team already! For goodness sake.
LISA: I know. He is one of the most talented gymnasts that I know. I love him. I’ve got so much time for him.
EMMA: I love him.
LISA: I know. He’s a sweetheart. He really is. We have such good like facetimes, which are ridiculous. He’s actually coming over in a couple of weeks
LISA: So I’m hoping he’ll have a chance to play with me before he goes off to compete in France. You know, there’s a couple of I do speak like Brandon Wynn, I speak to a lot, as well. And Danell.
LISA: Mr. Leyva. I talk to him a lot. That’s it really. Jesse Silverstein, I do, but he’s not sometimes he goes a little bit MIA and I don’t know where he goes to, so he’s kind of harder to track down but I just love them. The guys are so positive and just
EMMA: Yeah they are.
LISA: They’re just good like genuine humble guys and I really have a lot of time for them and I think they’re just the type of guys that I really would have as my friends for the rest of my life, like they they’re just good people. They really are sweethearts, so got a lot of time for them.
EMMA: That’s good. I love the photos of you guys on the tube. On the train.
LISA: Oh they had a 24 hour layover. It was so much fun. I took them out in Soho, actually.. EMMA: Woohoo!
LISA: It was so funny. We ended up going to this bar called Madame Jojo’s and it was hilarious. We walked all and it was like timewarped back to the eighties. It was an old hip hop club and everyone was battling. So of course we’re gymnasts we started doing like flares and windmills in the middle of the dance floor and all these guys are looking at us like ‘what?! Dude, you’re awesome’ and they’re like ‘yep we are’.
LISA: It was so good. So much fun.
EMMA: Amazing. So when are you and Olivia Vivian getting your own reality show?
LISA: She needs to move over here first! Or I need to move out there. She’s doing big things though at the moment. I think she’s trying to set up her own business and stuff and, you know, I love her. I think me and Olivia are very similar and I think she’s has the influence of the American way of living, so Olivia’s like me? there’s no grey area, she’s black and white and it is what it is and, again, they either love her or they hate her and I just
EMMA: Where did you meet her?
LISA: We met at IGC. She was actually over with the Australian team. So she was over with Peggy and her coach and the rest of the juniors. So she, I think, was the only senior at the time who was there so, you know, we just got on like a house on fire. She’s just absolutely nuts. I love her. I love people that are just positive
EMMA: I’ve got a lot of time for her
EMMA: Because at the Commonwealth Games, she lined up, let all the kids put her medal on and she gave them all koala bears. That’s amazing.
LISA: She’s good like I think a lot of people can like interpret her wrong. But I just I know her heart and she’s just I love her. She’s just freaking crazy. It’s difficult that she lives so far away, you know, we will have to arrange either me flying out there or her coming over here and, you know, I don’t know, we’ll sort something. Definitely be a Snapchat and a Instagram moment when that happens. [laughs]
EMMA: So, if you weren’t in gymnastics, what would you be doing? LISA: Oh gosh, do you want me to answer that?
EMMA: Yeah [laughs]
LISA: Um, do you know what? Honestly, I had to decide what I wanted to do when I was about seven, eight, because I was in actually a dance school when I was little. So I used to do like ballet, I used to do tap, I used to do jazz and my coach was like ‘well you need to make a decision what you want to do, because you need to either go full time dancing or full time gymnastics’ and I chose gymnastics.
EMMA: Thank God.
LISA: So I would either be a dancer or, do you know what? I love athletics. After the Olympics, I
went to go into athletics. EMMA: Oh really? What for?
LISA: It was hurdles because Linford Christie, I don’t know if you know who he his? Olympic medalist?
EMMA: I know who he is. Olympic gold medalist.
LISA: Yeah. [laughs] Mr Lunchbox, himself. But he was my agent at the time, after I did Sydney, he was like ‘come down and train with us’ and, you know, he absolutely killed me to the point where I vomited on the floor. Like he murdered me. He wanted me to go into hurdles ‘cos he
was like ‘you’re the only gymnast I know that doesn’t run like a gymnast. You’re flexible, you’re fast twitch, I want you to do hurdles’ But he wanted me to move to Wales and I was like ‘yeah, I’m not ready for that’ [laughs] I can’t do that. I’ve just got back to normality. I can’t I can’t. So I think it would definitely be dancing or athletics.
JESSICA: Did you ever think about trying pole vault?
LISA: I did try pole vault. It annoyed me. I got very very bored very quickly. And you have to run like an absolute plonker with this big long stick on the top of you shoulder and you have to do it like a hundred million times, I was like ‘I really don’t wanna do this anymore’ I have like the attention span of a fly, sometimes. I can’t I can’t I feel like Dory out of Nemo sometimes. And I just can’t do it. It bored me so much, I was like ‘I’m sorry’, And I think the pole vaulting coach got quite upset ‘cos I was like ‘I don’t want to do it’ and he was like ‘But you’re so good’ I was within my first lesson, I got over one of the jumps and he was like that stuff’s like impossible, like
people don’t do that for like, you know, months. I was like well there you go, done it. [laughs] JESSICA: And now I’m done.
LISA: Well I was like yeah, I’m done. I really don’t wanna do this. I couldn’t do the same thing, day in day out. There’s no variety at all, it’s just, you know, run with a big old stick and put it down in the floor and jump over and it bored me.
JESSICA: So I wanted to ask your about your like financial situation. Raising your daughter, supporting yourself and doing gymnastics because I know so many of the adult gymnasts that we talk to talk about how difficult it is to maintain after they become an adult because they don’t have the funding from their country or the sponsorship of their country, all that kind of stuff. So how have you managed to do this financially if you don’t mind talking about it and has the support increased since you’ve been successful at this comeback?
LISA: It’s been very very difficult. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been lucky enough to have help with my fees. Actually in October November last year, I was actually gonna finish because I just financially couldn’t justify doing it because, you know, I literally travel over a hundred miles a
day to get to and from my gym and I work in schools, you know, I’m no multimillionaire, you know there’s only so much I can keep doing and I was blessed enough to have a woman approach me after the meet and said, you know, I hear that, you know, you’re thinking about retirement because of financial problems and I said yeah, you know, and I explained a few things and she just said to me, you know, I’d love to help you out with that and I’d love to, you know, help finance, your your at least your petrol and be covered at least up to the Nationals and stuff, so she goes I think what you’re doing is so amazing and I think we need more people like you in the sport and I think you have a lot more to prove to people and she goes, you know, I’d love to back you and I found out who this woman was and it was Annette Stapleton, she was the female national coach of Great Britain. So she wrote me a cheque the next week and she’s been my kind of angel in disguise, if you will. So, you know, I was very very close to quitting but
that’s helped me. I still struggle, obviously, but [sighs] you kind of find a way to balance it. I work in the day, my daughter’s at school in the day and I go training at night, you know. So it’s just one of those things, trying to find a balance between being a full time athlete, a full time mum and working as well, so it’s hard but I think it builds character [laughs]
JESSICA: Definitely. And I love that it was a woman that came up to you and said that you. Like it’s great to have women supporting other women doing this kind of thing
LISA: I literally cried. Like I said to her I’m so grateful. And I think for me it was like, it was so important for me because it was the first kind of ray of hope, if you will, or light that someone’s actually supporting me in this country, like someone’s actually believing in me. So it was good. Like the boost or, you know, that oomph to keep me going and to know that there are people out there that believe in what you’re doing so.
EMMA: So Lisa what was it like in Germany competing at the Leverkusen Cup last year? Your first international in many years.
LISA: Oh I loved it. I really I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I was vomiting in the morning [laughing] and didn’t think I was gonna compete, um and the the only way I can explain what this floor was like is you know when you’re on a trampoline for your garden?
LISA: Now, you have the trampolines in your gym and then you have a trampoline in your garden and it’s so dead, isn’t it?
LISA: Now this floor was like the dead trampoline in my garden. Like it was so bad, like I don’t even know how I managed to not land on my face on my double pike [laughs] I really don’t. But, you know, going out there everyone was suffering really bad, like I had to um change my whole bar routine because where I do turns on the bar, when I went up to handstand to push down on the bar to go into a Geinger roll, like you know to invert giants?
LISA: Um the whole bar literally moved because what happened was they didn’t have the facilities to life the bars up so what they did was picked up the whole bars and put them on planks of wood. And it was just so dangerous! I was sitting there and I was just I literally I broke down in the gym and I said to the England coach like I’m so sorry, but I can’t do it, I’m too scared. Like I’m scared I’m gonna hurt myself and he’s like ‘well what are you worried about?’ and I was literally I went to do a Geinger roll and the whole bar just went left right left right like that and he was like ‘whoa whoa whoa off the bar! Off the bar!’
EMMA: Oh my God.
LISA: My routine literally was jump over the bar, Geinger, bail to handstand, double pike. That was it. That was all I had in my bar routine. It was crazy and the floor yeah was terrible. But the rest of the beam and the vault was really good but, you know, the crowd was really really like friendly and I always enjoy competing abroad. I kind of always feel that I’m in my element internationally.
LISA: You know, I always scored higher internationally than I did, kind of, you know EMMA: Which is why, why silly GB people, is Lisa not on the World Cup circuit? Please. LISA: [laughs] I would love to be out. I would have loved to.
EMMA: You would be amazing ‘cos look who’s out there now, you’ve got Chuso does it, the
Slovenian girls do it, Marta Pihan.
LISA: I think all these competitions, like for me, I was the first GB gymnast to win a medal out in EMMA: You were. Cottbus, by any chance?
LISA: Yeah, but you know what? The funny thing is with that when I competed in Cottbus, what they used to do, is everyone the top eight would compete their floor routines, and then whoever finished in the top two would then battle and go head to head and do their routines again. And then what would happen was they wouldn’t put the scores up. So they would put you on two forklifts
EMMA: I’ve seen it. I’ve got one of those competitions on DVD and poor old Khorkina and someone else are sitting on these chairs and get raised up in the air.
EMMA: The one who’s the winner.
LISA: The one who’s the winner goes up higher. EMMA: Yes! [laughing] It’s ridiculous yet genius.
LISA: Like we battled it? like it was a proper battle, you know, you’re knackered after doing your floor routine and they’re like ‘oh you’re in second place, Lisa’ and Produnova was in first and it was like ‘you two need to battle again’ and I was like ‘oh lord’ And I’m sitting there feeling like I need an inhaler and I’m like ‘oh lord’, so I’ve gone again and yeah, so I beat her, so I was like [squeals]
EMMA: In that floor, didn’t you take down Produnova and Khorkina? LISA: I did.
LISA: But like I said, I always scored internationally. It was like it was really strange. But like I said earlier, you know, about politics and stuff like that. I remember doing the European Championships in St Petersburg and I made the European floor final and I went up and I competed and they put me into fourth place. And it was quite funny, I was so irritated because I knew I’d done one of the best routines of my life at that point. And I will never forget like , you know Bellu? The national coach for Romania?
LISA: He actually came up to me and he shook my hand and he said ‘I apologize’ and I was like
‘What are you apologizing for?’ and he was like ‘I think you should have my gymnast’s medal. You should have had silver’ And I was like ‘oh? Could you tell the judges that, please?’ [laughs]
EMMA: Wow that’s amazing. I love Bellu. LISA: Oh he’s I love him.
EMMA: I’ve chatted to him a few times but you know in Sofia, he came and thanked the supporters and I just thought that is a proper gentleman.
LISA: He really is a gentleman. He always has been. Even when we used to go over to Romania every year, for training and stuff we used to go to Deva and he would just he always looked out for us and just like I said, I think I was the first Brit to kind of do a lot of things so he I think he kind of my coaches were Romanian so he always was very friendly and looked out for me, you know. The Romanian girls were always, you know, looking out for me ‘do you need
anything? Do you want us to chalk the bar for you?’ so they were always very supportive. It was nice.
EMMA: Oh that’s cool. What was it like training in Deva?
LISA: Oh gosh, it was nuts [laughs] I mean, the first time we went, our showers were literally like pipes [laughs] that’s it. It was crazy. I know it’s like really nice now and they had like a big injection of money and stuff but you know, when we went, we’re talking 1996, you know times and it was a very poor country at that point and
EMMA: Which girls did you train with at that time?
LISA: Oh gosh um
EMMA: Was it like the A squad with Milosevic and all?
LISA: Yes it was Milo and Gogean and, you know Presacan and all them lot, so yeah. EMMA: Did they let you hang out together or was it like strict just training and stuff?
LISA: No it was quite strict. We [laughs] do you know what I remember? Because we went to McDonald’s one time and we literally got all the little little girls the junior squad, we bought them all back a hamburger each, like a cheeseburger [laughs]
LISA: And we gave them to them and they took all the wrappers off and gave them back and were like ‘you can’t leave these wrappers in here! You need to take them!’ and I was like ‘well there you go’ and they were like ‘we love you! Thank you!’ [laughs]
EMMA: Oh that is amazing.
LISA: I remember a story of do you remember back in the day in the airports, you used to get those huge massive chocolate bars?
LISA: Well a couple of the Romanian girls hid a big one of those behind a picture frame and one of the national coaches found it
EMMA: Oh no.
LISA: And they literally ate the whole bar [laughing] as a punishment!
EMMA: Mind you, that wouldn’t be a punishment for me, that would just be like a normal day
LISA: And just smile while you’re eating it, like yes.
EMMA: I need to know about when Rochelle was on the show, she told us that you went busking in Belarus. So have you got any more Lisa/Rochelle adventures?
LISA: There are so many, like I couldn’t even [laughs] There are so many. To be fair, there are a lot of them that I probably couldn’t even tell you because we never got caught for them so [laughs] I don’t want to bait myself up now. Um I think Romania we just did there are so many
things! Like I remember putting Natalie Lucitt into a suitcase and seeing how far we could chuck her down the stairs.
[Emma and Jessica laugh] EMMA: Oh my God.
LISA: She didn’t like us at that point so we literally threw her down the stairs and knocked on the senior’s door and we ran up the stairs and hid and they’re just looking at this suitcase and it starts rocking from back to forth and Natalie Lucitt’s Welsh and she’s so funny and she opened
it up from the inside and she just popped her head out and went [Welsh accent] ‘hellooo!’ Like and this senior turned around and she was like ‘do you want me to push you down those stairs?’ and she went ‘no!’ she jumped out of this suitcase, she legged it up and she was starkers
naked, run upstairs forgot the suitcase, she had to run back down and pick up the suitcase? oh my God, she was in so much trouble. It was so funny though.
EMMA: So was there any of your escapades that if your daughter did now, you would be absolutely horrified at her for?
LISA: No because everything we did it was just it was just it wasn’t anything nasty, it was all just us having fun, you know, entertaining ourselves, like I said, we were in a generation where we didn’t iPads or telephones like, you know, iPhones. We had standard Nokias and we weren’t allowed to use them because of international bills. You know so we had to entertain ourselves and, you know, we used to dress ourselves up and do photo shoots and yeah we just like I
said, breaking into the gyms and we did so many crazy things. So many crazy things but it was so much fun. We really we have some and I think this is why Rochelle’s like such a good coach and I think the reason she gets on so well with her gymnasts is that she can relate.
LISA: You know, she’s done the crazy stuff and she’s done the hard work and I think that that helps and, you know, when they’re trying to cheat in conditioning, she’s like ‘I know all the cheats. You can’t do it’. Me and Rochelle, seriously, we would get in so much trouble sometimes. We would refuse to train in the mornings. We used to literally run into the gym early and we used to dig ourselves into the pit and we would refuse to come out until Zultan found us like [laughing] we just we wouldn’t do it and we would sit there in the pit [Romanian accent]
‘Lisa, Rochelle. Come out, you need to train now’ and we was like ‘No Zultan, you need to find us’ and we were laughing like we were like sixteen seventeen at these times and we were still doing this crazy stuff.
EMMA: You’ve recently done a naked photo shoot and a few gymnasts have done them like Alicia, Dan Keatings, Danell. Where are the photos going to be published and were you completely in the raw or was there any tape strategically placed?
LISA: There was no tape. I was literally in the raw. But it was so tastefully done. They were so respectful.
EMMA: Well I’ve seen the photograph that you posted on IG and it’s beautiful.
LISA: Thank you. It was…basically, it was just one photographer and a makeup artist and the makeup artist had constantly a blanket up and lights went down and there was no lighting until he would count me in one two three and then I would jump and when he took the picture the
lights would flash up so everything was done pretty much in the pitch black so there was nothing that was seedy about it at all.
LISA: And there are so many athletes that are doing it and it’s about gym bodies and, you know, athlete’s bodies and there was, you know, like I said, so many different athletes and I think, you know, the photographer, you know, he was just such a good photographer and I think he captures sport and people in like a raw form, literally, you know and I think, you know, it’s beautiful, what he’s doing. It’s for a magazine called Sports Uncovered, which goes out to like fitness gyms and there’s an online app for it. And basically it’s like one athlete gets released every two weeks, so mine could be next week or it could be at the end of the year it gets released but gymnastswise, there was me, Dan Keatings and Hannah Whelan that did the shoot.
LISA: So yeah you know, football players and rugby players and stuff like that. So, you know,
we don’t know who gets released when until they kind of message you and say you’re gonna be in this week.
EMMA: Oh that’s brilliant. And you get one of the proofs, are you gonna hang it on your wall in your house?
LISA: [laughs] Well you never know, maybe [laughs]
EMMA: You know, you’ve got to do it Sex and the City style when Samantha gets a naked photo and hangs it on her wall just so she can see how fabulous she is.
LISA: Just hang it above my bed [laughs]
EMMA: Maybe not above the bed, but you know. [laughs] LISA: I told you I’m bringing sexy back.
EMMA: Yeah. Could you actually crush someone with your abs? LISA: Um…I would like to try.
EMMA: Have you ever tried to have you ever tried to grate cheese on them? LISA: I haven’t.
EMMA: [laughs] Bet you could.
LISA: [laughs] Oh God. Like it’s quite funny actually, the amount of guys that say ‘oh my God, you’ve got a better six pack than I do.
EMMA: I think next time you go to your gym, get one of your fellow gymnasts and try to crush them with your abs and video it.
LISA: I’ll crush a block of chalk with my abs. How about that?
EMMA: Yeah, do it. Do it. Ok so I’m gonna rewind a little bit to the olden days. I want to talk about your Sydney experience for the casual gymnerd such as myself, it’s the biggest gymnastics debacle ever. You know, the allaround, the vault was set wrong, Raducan had her medal taken off her for taking Nurofen, for goodness’ sake. So it’s kind of got like a bad taste in people’s mouths. How was it for you and did you know that the vault was set wrong at the start? Did you even vault twice? I can’t even remember, sorry.
LISA: I did vault twice. I did. Do you know the funniest thing is I was sat there and I wasn’t feeling great anyway because everyone had flu. This is why the whole Raducan thing like, you take Lemsip and it’s got a banned substance in it, you know, it’s crazy. Like I just think to myself I don’t think there’s a drug that can help enhance your performance in gymnastics
EMMA: There isn’t.
LISA: Unless there’s one that’s gonna help you stay on this bloomin’ beam, like make your feet sticky. You know, I don’t really think there’s anything that can enhance it, per se. You know, with men’s, maybe slightly different with the whole strength side of it. But you know, I’m up in the competition and I’m warming up vault and I kept wiping out and Zultan’s just coming up to me like ‘Lisa, what are you doing?’ and I’m like ‘Zultan, there’s something wrong with the vault’ and he’s like ‘You crazy, there’s nothing wrong with the vault and I’m like ‘look, I’m telling you,
there’s something wrong with the vault’ and he’s like ‘take a step back. It might help’ and I’m like
‘what’s a step back going to do?’ And I was like ‘oh my God’ and I’m going mental. And where I’d done my vault, you know, I fell over and obviously then, you know you’ve fallen, you know that’s it. It’s over, what’s the point. You know, you just kind of get deflated and you don’t really
put as much in, if you will, because you know that, you know, pretty much the competition’s done if you will. And I remember getting round ‘cos I started on vault and I got around to beam and they turned around and went ‘oh, the vault height was wrong. You have to repeat your vault’ I was like ‘pardon?’ And they were like ‘the vault was wrong’ and for me, like it’s absolutely nuts, like how that can even happen at an Olympic Games because
first of all, when does the vault ever get that low, anyway? It goes up and down. It doesn’t go lower than one twenty five.
LISA: You know, so you don’t expect it and, you know, and it was very very frustrating. Very frustrating.
EMMA: It was ridiculous. Completely ridiculous.
LISA: I think they should have started the whole competition again, personally, the day after. EMMA: I do as well.
LISA: I’m really a little bit baffled why they didn’t if I’m honest, you know. What can you do. EMMA: Maybe it was a question of they didn’t have the time. I don’t I don’t know.
LISA: It probably would have been down to TV and time slotting TV if I’m really honest. EMMA: I think you’re probably right.
LISA: You moved out of the competition, it would have been timeslotted, you know.
EMMA: It it was I mean what did you think about because you obviously saw Raducan when you were there.
EMMA: What did you think of the gold being taken away from her?
LISA: I’ve seen that girl, you know, training and I’ve seen her competing. I honestly believe that she was the deserved winner. Like I loved her? I thought she was such a bubbly character, you know, I thought she was a beast? she was absolutely she was something else. You know when you have a gymnast that just has something.
LISA: You know, and Raducan always had that something that I guess you found in maybe
Milo. You know Milosevic. EMMA: Yeah.
LISA: And it’s rare. And I don’t think that she deserves to have that taken off her because I
generally thought she was the deserved winner, you know.
EMMA: Yeah me too. So now you’re competing again and obviously the vault and everything is different? it’s a table rather than a horse. Do you always check the height before you go?
LISA: Yes [laughs] EMMA: [laughs]
LISA: Do you know what it is? I know at the British, actually it was quite funny because I at the British, I I kicked the bar during my bar routine. I don’t know if you recall it was before my dismount.
EMMA: I recorded it, Lisa. LISA: Oh there you are.
EMMA: I don’t only recall it, I recorded it.
LISA: [laughs] There you go. I smacked the bar. Now I’m sitting there to my coach and I’m like
‘the bars are too close’ and he’s like ‘Lisa, the bars are not too close’, I went ‘Vince, get your tape measure out and measure the bloomin’ bars. I am tall enough to know when the bars are too close’ Like they were too close and they were like a good like half a foot in. And I’m sitting there and I’m going ‘I’m telling you’ And because I have the bars up as well, it’s all like in and out and all over the place, so like I said, when they put it wrong, I think tall gymnasts notice it more than little gymnasts.
LISA: You know, so I think it’s. Nah. It’s one of those, isn’t it [laughs]
EMMA: So what I want to ask you is, Barry Davis, who was commentator for the BBC back in the day. During Sydney, he was mad that you weren’t in the beam finals. So do you think you should have been in the beam final?
LISA: Um this is where I need to be very diplomatic. I lost out on that beam final by 0.02 of a tenth.
LISA: So…to say that I was mad was an understatement. There’s a lot more to that than I’m kind of can really go into but yeah I was very very upset and I knew that all I had to do was stick my routine and I should have been in there and I was always in the top eight and I was always in
big beam finals and I knew I should have been there so the fact that I wasn’t…yeah was yeah very very difficult for me to deal with. Yeah. [laughs]
EMMA: Rubbish. Rubbish. It’s absolutely rubbish. It LISA: Not even point one. 0.02.
EMMA: Yeah. Well it’s like Beth in 2004 didn’t make the bar finals, it’s like hello? She made every other bar final forever, so. You just well anyway, let’s not talk about rubbish. Um so what was the pressure like leading up to Sydney? And could anything have been done differently to either sort of not burn out gymnasts so fast or help you achieve a better result?
LISA: No I don’t think I think we were like people forget that our team that we sent out we had never as a country sent a whole team out to an Olympic Games. So we were the first team to ever send a whole team out to the Olympics. That had never happened. People don’t mention that, like before, you know, myself, Annika, Paula, Rochelle, we did the Worlds we’d only ever sent one or two gymnasts out to the Olympics. A whole team had never gone. It’s never been accomplished.
LISA: So, you know, we were centralized before the Olympics. I think that we were as ready as we could have ever been. I think us as a team, we were 110% ready. Like you could have woke us up at, you know, four o’clock in the morning, told us to get in the gym and do a floor routine, we could have done it.
LISA: You know, we’re the only team to have all done our routines and hit them all clean. Not one of us fell in that competition. You know, like I said, it was a lot more political back then and being British was a lot harder for us, you know.
EMMA: Well the vault in that allaround took Annika out. If you remember. LISA: Yeah. Mmhmm. She rolled her ankle. She did a
EMMA: Yeah she did.
EMMA: You know, it was an amazing accomplishment and, you know
LISA: It wasn’t about to be fair, it wasn’t about the individual at that time. You know, it was about putting Great Britain on the mark and I had done my job as far as the Grand Prix and the Europeans and stuff. I was getting myself out there, namewise. You know, and what I did helped the likes of Beth and Becky get individual medals. But you know, what my team did was help the likes of Great Britain get that medal, you know at Euros and stuff, so you know, I think as a it was more about the team than the individual at that point, you know.
LISA: You had to get the team out there and, you know, to move forward for individuals, the team had to be established.
LISA: So as a team, I think we worked very well and I think, like I said, we were as ready as we would have ever been.
EMMA: Yeah. You kind of nicked my next question, as well, so. I’ll read it out anyway. You achieved so many firsts for GB, you and Annika before you. You know, you really paved the
way for the likes of Beth and Becky and you were the first GB gymnast to win a Grand Prix gold. How did that feel for you to pave the way for what we now see today?
LISA: I mean, you know, the thing is, I never…really was in awe of anybody. Like I was never one of those to sit in front of the TV screen and watch gymnastics because I’d get frustrated because I’d look and be like ‘well I can do better’. So, you know, I would always like Khorkina and that lot, when I first met them, everyone was like ‘oh my God’ but I was just like ‘you alright?’. You know, and I wouldn’t look at them as in [gasps] oh my God. I would look at them and be like you know what, I’m gonna beat you one day.
LISA: You know, and I did. And for me, like, I don’t know like, I just I took it all in my stride. Like and I don’t look at a girl and be like well actually you’re ten years younger than me. I’ll be like well you’re quite good so actually you’re who I need to watch. I don’t look at that? I will look at your gymnastics. I won’t look at your name, I won’t look at your age, I will look at your gymnastics. So if you’re a potential threat to me, then you’re who I need to be watching. You know, I don’t ever get in awe of anybody like I know what job I need to do and I will try my hardest to achieve that. When I won like the um I won bar gold at the Romanian Invitational. I
can’t even remember what the competition was called now. But it was the first time a British gymnast had done that. And I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy that I had won because in my eyes, my top contender messed up.
LISA: So my coach is going ‘But you won. It doesn’t matter. She fell’ and I was like ‘Yeah but I
want to beat her when she’s good’. EMMA: Exactly.
LISA: I don’t want to beat her when she fell off. You know, I want that’s how I’ve always been, though.
EMMA: Yeah. Yeah. Well it’s a proper battle then. LISA: Yeah.
EMMA: So let’s talk about some injuries. I saw you last year at the British and you were kind enough to show me your gigantic elephant foot. Have you ever had anything bad that’s taken you out of competition?
LISA: Well I snapped my arm in the junior British.
EMMA: Yeah. I want to know about that. Do you still have plates in it now?
LISA: No I had them removed. I did it on a Tkatchev on bars. I went super high and my heels flung up behind me. So I kind of fell down head first. I put my hands down. I didn’t even realise. It’s only when I looked at the audience and I see all their faces like [gasps] and I kind of saw my arm up and out of its place [laughs] So I was kind of like ‘oh, crap’ and so I just grabbed my arm and yeah that’s all I really remember. I mean, touch wood, I’ve always been kind of fortunate. I think this is if I’m honest, the only way I could have made the comeback. Had I have suffered with the injuries that a lot of gymnasts do suffer with, me doing what I’m doing wouldn’t have been possible.
EMMA: Of course not.
LISA: You know, so I’ve always been quite lucky and I’ve always I think I’ve always listened to my body. I’ve never been one of these gymnasts that you know, I think the mentality is you need to push through it, you need to push through it. And to a certain extent you do need to push through it, but I always listen to my body and if I know that I’m potentially gonna make it
worse, then I’ll just be like ‘I’m not doing it’. You know, for me, nothing is worth my health and if I
think something’s gonna be worse for me, then I just won’t. So, you know, if I can come into a
gym and I’m absolutely dying I mean I suffer with shin splints really badly. I haven’t this year, touch wood. But I suffer with shin splints in my forearms from Yurchenkos.
LISA: So some days I’m just like ‘Natalia, I just can’t vault today. I can’t, like my arms are so sore’ Like even when I’m just not doing anything with them, they’re throbbing. You know, so in general, I’ve not really had those type of injuries. My ankles have always been weak but generally no. I’ve been quite lucky, I think.
EMMA: So what’s your experience of coming back to competition? Do you feel more confident? Are you more nervous? How do you feel?
LISA: I think when I came back, I was definitely more nervous. Like I felt there was a lot of pressure on me? everyone was kind of eyes on me, wanted see what I was doing. I’m kind of at the point where I just really don’t care. I want to out there and enjoy myself and perform. You know, and whatever happens, happens. After, whether I get selected or if I don’t, it is what it is I go out there to enjoy myself and do what I love to do and put on a performance, if you will. You know?
EMMA: That’s cool. Does your daughter come and watch you compete?
LISA: [laughs] She doesn’t. She came to my first British. But no. To be fair, not really, I think anyone that’s a mum kind of knows that when you’ve got a child, you’ve always got one eye on them [laughs] So it’s one of those things where… I think she’ll always want my attention and be flapping her arms and go ‘Mummy! Mummy! Come on Mummy!’ and I’ll always have one eye on her, making sure she’s behaving herself.
LISA: You know, it’s not like she’s a teenager that I can just trust what she’s doing, but half the time you know what she did last time? She literally just went around the arena and was getting autographs off of everyone.
LISA: And she was like ‘oh I went and saw Louis and he gave me his autograph’ and I said ’you don’t want your mum’s one?’ and she was like ‘no’ [laughs]
EMMA: Oh funny. So apart from Boginskaya, who you mentioned earlier, did you have any other gym idols when you were growing up?
LISA: Um not really, if I’m honest. Like, Milosevic, I loved.
LISA: Actually, you know who I always loved was Dominique Dawes. EMMA: Yeah.
LISA: She was my favourite. Like I remember watching the Worlds in Birmingham. I think it was in 92, was it?
EMMA: I have that on video. It was 93. I had it on video and I actually wore the tape out.
LISA: Oh my gosh. I remember her like doing her vault and I remember her standing up on the podium and waving and I really thought she was waving at me and I got so excited, I was like [squeals] And it was actually weird because the first time I met Natalia, she sat behind me at those Worlds and I remember asking her for her autograph.
EMMA: Oh wow.
LISA: And then later on, she becomes my coach [laughs]
EMMA: That’s brilliant. So what do you get up to when you have some free time? Do you actually have any free time? And do you have any secret hobbies that people would be surprised to know about?
LISA: Ooh. Free time I do get free time. Well to be fair, with running a household and everything else, it’s kind of wrong, but when I do get my free time, do you know what? I love cooking. I absolutely love cooking.
EMMA: If I came to your house for tea, what would you make for me? LISA: Ooh I love I cook Italian food a lot, so.
LISA: I am like a lamb and salad kind of person. I just I love it. I love cooking. I’m the cook in my friend group, like me and my friend Chantelle, we are the cooks. Whenever there’s food, it’s always me and her cooking, you know. But I do like proper I love cooking proper food, and my cakes and everything else. So I don’t skimp and get jar food stuff.
LISA: I think ‘cos my family, I’ve got such a mix and blend of background in my family. It’s crazy. So I’ve got like GermanJewish in me, I’ve got Irish, I’ve got like Italian and Polish and
something else. It’s crazy so I’ve always been quite big on cooking in my family so you know. EMMA: Fantastic. Here’s another business idea Lisa Mason cookbook. Fitness, there you go. LISA: It might be coming, you never know. I want to do a fitness video, actually [laughs]
EMMA: You should. In fact, you could take me, who’s like horrible like lazy and stuff, and you could turn me into you.
EMMA: You could train me to be like super fit and grate cheese on my abs.
LISA: I’m actually doing a personal training course, as well. So I’m actually at night college on
Thursdays and Monday evenings, so I’m doing college as well as training and working, so. EMMA: Oh my goodness.
LISA: Yeah 101 things.
EMMA: You’re superwoman. I’ve got one final question for you, and it’s gonna be quite funny, so I hope you think it’s funny. So I have to talk about Twitter because you’re quite outspoken and your Twitter is very funny. I have to use the Urbandictionary to translate half of your tweets.
EMMA: I’m gonna read you a couple of your tweets and you tell me what they mean. LISA: Oh my God [laughs]
EMMA: I love this one so much. Right ok. It’s so offputting when a guy is trying to talk to you on social media, then you look at who he’s following and its bear ratchets. Swerve.
LISA:[laughs] Oh my God, so you want me to tell you what that means? EMMA: Yeah, go on.
LISA: Ok so basically, like when a guy’s like trying to talk to you and approach you in a way that he’s interested in you and likes you a lot, but then you see the type of girls that he follows and they’re the cheapend tacky video girls that like to twerk and get free drinks and do other activities to get what they want
EMMA: Hahaha you got a boob job and wanna preach ‘no basic’. Darling, your face is basic and your body and personality. Get out of here with that shit.
LISA: Oh my God, I really need to start editing my tweets [laughs] Yeah do you know what it is? It frustrates me when um women want to cuss out other females and they want to say stuff like, you know, you must have heard the phrase basic
LISA: Bitch. So for that, it’s just like someone’s saying you’re bog standard, you’re nothing, you’re the kind of averagelooking nothing exciting about you. You’re basic. But these girls that are saying it are the ones that are caked in makeup, buy their boobs and wear fake eyelashes, fake tan, long nails, and are so artificial and they think they’re of some kind of higher standard when, you know, if you remove all of that, you’re more basic than the ones that you’re calling basic.
LISA: So it irritates me. It does. And I just think there’s no need for it.
EMMA: Yeah I agree. I like this one too. 5% of girls can pull off high waisted shorts, and the other 95% look like they’re wearing a damn diaper. Bitches thinking they Beyonce.
LISA: [laughs] You’ve got tan and a weave, everyone thinks they’re Beyonce and fabulous. There’s certain things you cannot get.
EMMA: I’ve met some pricks in my time, but you you are the freaking cactus [laughs]
LISA: [Oh God, I do. Do you know what it is? If I was to give you my Instagram for a day, right, you would have to laugh at the amount of crazy inbox things that I get. And stuff that I hear and the absolute if I may say bollocks, that people talk to me about.
EMMA: I can imagine.
LISA: I’m just, I’m like I’ve had enough. Oh Lord
EMMA: This one’s good, too. Be careful whose toes you step on today because they might be connected to the foot that kicks your ass tomorrow. Woo hoo!
LISA: Very true. Karma is an absolute bitch. So I just think treat people how you wish to be treated. You know, and I would never intentionally go out my way to hurt or upset anyone and I
just think if I ever have done, then, like I said, I’m very black and white so if I’ve done something that obviously I’m unaware of, then I would rather you say and then I can apologise for that. You know, but I’m not a badminded underhanded bitchy person? it’s not in my nature. I will voice my opinion about things but I would never intentionally go out my way to make someone feel small or make them feel worthless and, you know, to be fair, I was bullied a lot when I was younger so I think I hate it when I see people like ganging up on people or just inappropriate stuff it justs
gets my back up. I really dislike it. It’s just unnecessary, so. EMMA: What sort of bullying? Was it other girls at school?
LISA: Oh I would get it from all sorts to be fair. People in gymnastics, you know, because I was always kind of naturally talented and maybe not the hardest worker, so I can understand from their point of view, that would p them off a bit. You know, girls at school would be more I think it used to annoy a lot of people I would be very unaware that guys would like me and then girls would get a bit funny and I’d get teased by the boys ‘cos all the girls were like had their boobs and were doing all this and I was this skinny little gymnast with an eight pack [laughs] So I
would get teased and called Lisa no boobs and I’m just like well I’m still 32 and I’ve still got no boobs so [laughs]
EMMA: Don’t buy any either. It’s not a good look [laughs]
LISA: I think I disagree. I think it depends how big you go. If you go in for big boobs, that’s fine. I
know so many gymnasts that have had them done. It’s crazy.
EMMA: Really? So is there anything else that you’d like to talk about or tell us about Lisa? LISA: That you shouldn’t always believe everything you hear and I think there’s a lot of…kind of
judgement in gymnastics and people like to assume that they know you and know what you’re like and what you’ve been through and they don’t, so. I’m very straightforward and even when people tweet me or message me or message me, I’d say like 98% of the time I’ll message them back, you know. And I will reply, so like.
EMMA: You do.
LISA: Any questions that people have, I will answer it, you know. So I don’t know, don’t just assume? ask a question? if you don’t ask, you don’t get, do you?
JESSICA: Thanks so much for listening, everybody. Tell us what you thought of the show. Email us, leave a voicemail. remember to support us in any way you see fit. This show is produced by me, Jessica O’Beirne. Our content and social media director is Doctor Uncle Tim, PhD. Our audio engineer is the fabulous Ivan Alexander. Our theme song is mixed by Chris Saccullo, as
performed by NWA. Transcription services are provided Katy, Katy, Alex, Amanda, Cece, Hailey
Danicca and Emma. So you guys know we’re having a little trouble with our transcripts page.
We have almost we’re almost up to date except we’re maybe like ten behind, but we’re trying to get that page fixed. Thank you so much for listening. We will see you guys next week and tell us what you thought of the episode. Thanks for listening.
JESSICA: Can I ask you about what was the craziest banquet or after party at an Olympics or
LISA: Oh my God, really? [laughs]
JESSICA: This can be off the air, if you want. We don’t have to record this part.
LISA: The craziest party was China at the World Championships because it was one of those countries that no one speaks Chinese, right? Normally when you’re in Europe, someone speaks like Russian or German or French, so you can communicate. So normally you have the banquet and then you go out to a little club or something after. But like I said, no one spoke Chinese so I was like gosh, what are we gonna do? And I’m talking in those days, we had
Discmans, so I used to roll around with this big massive pack of CDs, right. I was like I could be a DJ. My playlist is pretty awesome.
EMMA: I used to, as well. I had a case full of CDs.
LISA: Yeah, see? So then I found this little bar down the road and I literally called everyone in their rooms and I was like ‘we’re having a party, come down to this place’ and I literally turned this bar, oh my God it was just absolutely epic. It was the best party ever. Everyone just had way too much to drink everyone was dancing on tables and I literally was I was making
snowballs behind the bar and mad cocktails. And then I was being the DJ and playing all like my
90’s R&B. I was loving it. It was pretty awesome. It was a very good night. EMMA: [laughs] That’s amazing.
JESSICA: That is awesome.
LISA: I’m telling you though, gymnasts now how to party. EMMA: They do. I’ve been to a few banquets, you know.
LISA: Yeah, gosh. I tell you, that’s one of the funniest things. When I came back and it was going out with all the gymnasts again that I forgot how mad they are. Because if any of if I was out in a normal place and a guy had come at me the way that these gymnasts come at me, they
would have been straight sucker-punched in their faces. You kind of look at them and you go ahh, you just want to tap their heads, and go ‘you’re so cute. Down there with your little self’ You know, but do they know how to party. They’re crazy. Absolutely crazy. I’m at that age now; I get to like 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock and I’m ready to go home.