JESSICA: Remember this show is PG-13 so you might hear a naughty word or two.
MCKAYLA: When I wanted to talk, and when I wanted to be open and kind of have that conversation, I wasnt allowed to have it. And that was really hard because my personality is very just like outgoing like that. Like, I know Simones coach like Aimee just lets her smile, which Im just like super jealous of.
JESSICA: Lets her smile, lets just yeah
MCKAYLA: Well thats all I would ever want is just to
MCKAYLA: -enjoy competing, like, enjoy training. But I didnt really have that choice. So I just kind of like, was just traumatized consistently. And once you get stuck in not speaking up for yourself, the universe just keeps giving you more and more things that bring you down. Because you need to eventually learn how to speak up for yourself. And it was my lesson to learn.
JESSICA: This is episode 187 for February 24, 2016. And welcome to the number one gymnastics podcast in the galaxy, bringing you all the most fascinating people from around the gymternet. Im Jessica, and today our guest is Olympic gold medalist and three time World Champion, and probably the most recognized person from the 2012 Olympics for her unimpressed face, McKayla Maroney. So were kind of excited around here. Thank you so much to our Club Gym Nerd members for making this show possible. And also to TumblTrak. We all know gymnastics is a whole lot more fun when youre not injured. Thats where TumblTrak comes in. With a complete lineup of equipment geared at learning new skills safer, athletes can practice rep after rep after rep while keeping their bodies healthy. TumblTrak equipment also helps a rehabilitating athlete recover from an injury. Just this year, TumblTrak has expanded into the European market with the opening of a new warehouse in the UK. Whether its in the US or Europe, TumblTrak can help you fulfill all of your gymnastics needs.
JESSICA: So welcome to GymCastic.
MCKAYLA: Thank you so much.
JESSICA: So this is a special episode requested by you.
MCKAYLA: I know
JESSICA: Which I was like what? Oh my god. Ok yes. Yes. We will do it.
JESSICA: And so were doing a video and were doing a podcast. So for those of you who are listening to this, you can also watch a video. And well tell you how to do that.
MCKAYLA: Yeah come watch the video.
JESSICA: Yes because it looks amazing in here.
MCKAYLA: For sure. We vibed it up.
JESSICA: And we look super hot just so you know.
MCKAYLA: Well you do.
JESSICA: No you do. Ok. So lets just start with some myth busters
JESSICA: Which is something we like to do on the show.
JESSICA: Gymnastics myth busters. So lets start with the first one
JESSICA: Is it true or false that you had to hire security guards after the Olympics
MCKAYLA: Its true
MCKAYLA: Yeah after got off the plane from New York, thats the first place that we went. And we definitely had to have some people help us out. I mean we just got back from the Olympics and our country was just freaking out. They were just so excited to see us. So, yes, thats true.
JESSICA: Is it true that you were at one point afraid that you were going to be too tall for gymnastics because your dads really tall?
MCKAYLA: Yes. Well my moms like 52 and my dads like 64. And people just would tell me all the time youre going to be so tall, youre not going to be able to go to the Olympics, youre going to be like smacking the bar. So they just put that in my head so I was kind of scared about that. But gymnastics definitely stunts your growth.
JESSICA: You think?
MCKAYLA: Yeah completely. So anybody whos worried about being tall like their dad, its not going to happen [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Ok, so who do you credit with teaching you the technique for your vault?
MCKAYLA: Some gymnasts are just great at specific events. And I will definitely give credit to Howie and Arthur for sure because they made it better. But I think at the end of the day its a God-given talent. Usain Bolt, nobody can teach him to run that fast. You know? But they can make them better. They can make them run faster.
JESSICA: A lot of people want to give it to Howie.
MCKAYLA: Yeah. I mean I think he was the one who made me start doing 2.5s. Who was like, you need to do this, you need to- youre going to go to the Olympics. So he believed in me and he wanted that for me. I was training double backs.
MCKAYLA: I actually went to- I had a dream the other night that one of the girls competed a double back and I was like I shouldve done that vault! I shouldve done it! and then I just remembered it was a dream.
JESSICA: You were like- when you did, just your timers, everyone could see you could do a double back. So many coaches are afraid for a gymnast to do that because-
MCKAYLA: You know what happened? I went to camp and Martha was like do not ever do that again! Thats not the right accent. But it just like, I did it. And I did it there a couple times and she got mad at Howie. She was like dont make her do that! Because I was 14 at the time.
MCKAYLA: And its just the most intense block. You have to block so high. And the thing about double backs thats really dangerous is once youre going for it, youre going for it. For 2.5 you can maybe do a full, a double.
MCKAYLA: When youre doing double backs you cant stop, youre going to die
MCKAYLA: Die. Like theres no-
JESSICA: Theres no getting out of it.
MCKAYLA: Yeah I definitely was serious about that
JESSICA: So you actually did them at camp in front of Martha?
JESSICA: That is the best freaking thing Ive ever heard in my life
MCKAYLA: And got in trouble for it
JESSICA: Thats even better. Oh my god. Speaking of vault, lets talk about your- in London
JESSICA: Your finals vault in the team finals.
JESSICA: Team finals, not event finals
MCKAYLA: That one
JESSICA: Team finals
JESSICA: The one that you stuck the shit out of
MCKAYLA: [LAUGHS] ok so we can say that
JESSICA: In front of the entire world
JESSICA: Yes. Do you think that you shouldve gotten a 10 on that vault?
MCKAYLA: Yeah. I do. But at least it wasnt- you dont ever really see the score at the Olympics. And it was team finals. At the end of the day I was competing for my team, I wasnt even competing for myself. So it wasnt like oh my god I didnt get a 10. I did that stick for the team. And we all did. Like we all- it was that moment was definitely like, that Olympic moment that was just like us three girls just went up and like hit, hit, hit. Like if you watch it on YouTube I like ran off and I was dancing. Literally all I wanted to do was just start dancing because thats what I want to do when I was happy. So I was like trying not to like be like really weird. So it was just meant to be and very special, and I will never forget that moment.
JESSICA: Thats awesome
MCKAYLA: The Olympics has, just think about it. People train their whole life for those moments. So just intense things happen. Its just very, an extreme environment in that building.
MCKAYLA: You can feel it, its crazy.
JESSICA: So 2013 Worlds, you came back, you made another team. So after the Olympics
JESSICA: You had your toe surgery
MCKAYLA: I had my four surgeries.
JESSICA: Yeah. Did you have four surgeries between- because you had the toe
MCKAYLA: Three. Three
JESSICA: Broken leg
MCKAYLA: So I competed at the Olympics with a fractured shin and a broken toe, bone, foot. Everything was like shattered and horrible and displaced. And went home- no no no, went on tour with all that broken. And since my whole body was just like McKayla please stop doing gymnastics were dying here. So I broke it on the first show that we had and fractured my tibia right out of my leg. And had to be taken to the emergency room and get surgery on that like as fast as possible. And then we were just like might as well get the toe surgery. And then I had to get the screws taken out of this because they started like, popping out of my leg. Because when screws dont want to be in your leg, they come out of your leg. So thats something that I took from that. But three surgeries, and then went to Worlds and just, yeah. It was pretty cool.
JESSICA: Yeah. And I think you showed people actually that you could have a life outside of gymnastics, and a little bit of a career outside of gymnastics, and still be World Champion.
MCKAYLA: People didnt like that
JESSICA: I know and Im like she did it!
MCKAYLA: Stop posting you know risqué Instagram selfies, that is not going to help your gymnastics career. I mean with gym you still dont have a normal life. I think I was pretending, and you dont. Youre in the gym 8 hours a day. Its not like I was going to parties or anything. I still dont. Thats just not me. Its not any of the girls. Were very focused. If youre training for any competition in gymnastics, you are so- theres no halfway. I really wish you could, but you cant. Its not safe. And your mind physically cant do that. Because its just like, its too much. Especially in the environment with my gym, in that place, you cant. Its like six days a week, every day, very serious.
JESSICA: Yep. So going back, you just talked about the tour.
JESSICA: And your injury on tour
MCKAYLA: Yeah that was horrible
JESSICA: It like- me, always wanting everyone to be as protected as possible
JESSICA: All the gymnasts, just put them in bubble wrap and make sure theyre happy until they can perform again.
MCKAYLA: Im scared about that
JESSICA: I was like-
MCKAYLA: because people get hurt on tour
MCKAYLA: See I didnt know that. I wish I knew that. And your bodys just so done after the Olympics. All you need to do and all you should do is just rest and go on a vacation and dont even move your body. And the kind of mat setup wasnt exactly competition right. Because its like, they set it up for once place, so its kind of like an amusement park that goes up and gets taken down. Theyre not that safe. So the mat that I was going on where I broke my tibia, it wasnt a mat that was ok or allowed or whatever the rules are.
JESSICA: Wasnt like a regulation mat
MCKAYLA: Yeah. So there was definitely a problem there. But you know I didnt even think about kind of speaking up about that. Just didnt come up. Well, you know, everything happens for a reason so its all good.
JESSICA: Did anybody tell you ahead of time like, with a fracture, you know, if you
JESSICA: have hard landings, this is what could happen?
MCKAYLA: It was just a bad idea in general. But you live and learn.
JESSICA: Back to 2013 Worlds, you had the leg, you had the toe, you had the knee
MCKAYLA: 2013 Worlds
JESSICA: You had the screws. 2013 Worlds
MCKAYLA: Got it
JESSICA: This is after you came back
MCKAYLA: Belgium, yeah
JESSICA: Right, Belgium. With the Belgian waffles, which you refused to leave until you got waffles. You notified everyone after you won vault. But the thing that killed everyone is that you went on floor and you got deducted for the overtime. What happened? Did heads roll? Like
MCKAYLA: That was actually a horrible- that is something that kind of really was just like this is why I want to go back because I want to be able to do floor. Because floor, yeah I love vault, vault will always be my event. But floor was my favorite event. And I would always say that in all my interviews because you can express yourself, you can have fun, you can really let people see your character. And floor was kind of the time to just be myself a little bit. So yeah that moment was not cool. But my music I guess was a little too long and they started the stopwatch early. And, or I started my like Napoleon Dynamite pose too early.
JESSICA: Is that what you called it?
MCKAYLA: So, it was just too bad because I really wanted to be- I mean at Visas, P&Gs, I got first place I think. So I really wanted to kind of keep that going for floor.
JESSICA: Mhmm. Yep.
MCKAYLA: And I did really well at the camp too. I got the highest floor score Id ever gotten at the camp. But thats all just like, hidden secret stuff.
JESSICA: I know right? Why are the camp scores always secret?
MCKAYLA: Its so weird too because I always do my best things at camp and Im just like ugh
JESSICA: No one will ever know that I got a 17.5
MCKAYLA: Yeah like I just always do great at the wrong times
JESSICA: I know I wish everyone could know the scores and what goes on. I want a live feed camera from the camp so everyone can see everything.
MCKAYLA: People dont want that there for a reason
MCKAYLA: Its just scary in there
JESSICA: Yeah I know
MCKAYLA: The energys just like oh my god, its terrifying. And you feel like every move is like, this is me making the team or not, you know? And that moment and that amount of pressure had been building up since like, for years you know? So it just gets so intense when its just 10, 15 days away that youre going to be leaving to go to the Olympics. And they never say that youre on the team. They never say that until youre there and youve competed the first day. So theyre always just like we can switch you out, dont get big in your head. So when people say I was so cocky and thats why I fell on my vault because I believed in myself, that wasnt what it was. You cant even be cocky in that sport, its impossible. Its amazing how much just pressure were under 24/7.
JESSICA: And a lot of people have criticized the mens team because they have all the talent but dont do as well as the women. And they name the mens team so early. And people say that the camps arent as intense and they need to do it more like the women do because the women are so successful.
MCKAYLA: I guess yeah weve done well with it. And we got the gold medal. So you cant really argue that that didnt work. But I do think there are better ways for your body. Because by the time I got to the Olympics I already had a fractured shin and broken- my toe was broken. And then at the Olympics we- so we got off the plane. That camp was like 30 days long. No days off. So were used to, Im used to one Sunday at least give me a Sunday off and Ill just be like God bless its God day, its Gods day let me just take in this feeling day. We had no days off.
JESSICA: 30 days in a row?
MCKAYLA: Dont take my words that seriously but Im pretty sure we were there for a month doing- we didnt have one day off. Thats all I know. We didnt have one day off. And it was that long and intense and competing. We competed like four times. So by the time we were done and we pack up our stuff, we get on a plane, and we get there, and we get all of our clothes. And when youre in that Olympic environment, its just so stimulating its like crazy. Like your brain just starts spinning. And we go back to our room in the village and weve just walked through the whole entire airport, were like dead. We take a 30 minute nap and we go to training. And I get on the beam, I do a dismount, and I thought my foot fell off. And I was just like oh my god, Ive never been, I almost threw up. You know when youre in so much pain it just hurts so bad that I ended up still doing three routines after that on beam too.
JESSICA: Of course
MCKAYLA: And made it worse. And then I just by that time, when the pain like sits for a little while it just gets worse and worse and worse. So we had floor next and I couldnt even do floor which was just, the first day. The first day. So I was just sitting in the corner hiding from media ice bucketing. And theyre like dont limp, smile, make sure you have you just look like youre fine. Because thats the only way youre going to stay on this team. Because you know you always had to be on. There was no off moment where you could just be like Im freaking out you know? And I just kind of iced my foot. They gave me five days and they said if you can do a vault in five days and its a good vault, well keep you. And you know at the end of the day I knew I could do a vault. I knew I could do that for my team. Because if I couldnt, that wouldnt be cool of me to be like oh Im going to take this spot for somebody else. Because another girl could take it. I think Ebee or Sarah Finnegan had that. And I wouldve given it to them if I knew that I couldnt have done it. But I knew that I could still do a vault no matter what.
JESSICA: Right. You were talking about some of your criticism youve gotten with social media and stuff like that. And one of the criticisms
MCKAYLA: Thats just social media in general
JESSICA: Oh my god
MCKAYLA: You cant get away from it
JESSICA: How do you deal with that?
MCKAYLA: I dont. For a while I would just like, its just so much better to not do it. You cant win. Everybodys always going to say something that kind of hurts you.
MCKAYLA: No matter what you say. So I just dont even read it anymore. Ive finally gotten to the point where Ill say this and then tomorrow Ill be crying at something else. But where Im like at peace with people not agreeing with what I say. And with social media my advice is be yourself because at the end of the day people are really going to appreciate that. And the people who are going to get it, itll speak to them. And the people who arent, they werent going to get it anyway. So you just really have to just stay true to yourself. And I just stay away from kind of things that are a lower vibration and just stay up for the highest good of everyone so I can help more people and spread more love and light. I sound crazy but Im just
MCKAYLA: super into this stuff.
JESSICA: Thats good! Its super positive
JESSICA: That totally makes sense
MCKAYLA: It just makes sense
JESSICA: Yeah. Well you do a great job. So many people, I asked some people ahead of time, I like to get feedback what would you want to ask McKayla Maroney.
JESSICA: And they didnt even have questions. They were just like tell her thank you for being so positive on social media and being so open about her health struggles and like
MCKAYLA: See those are the things that make my day because sometimes I just want to delete my Twitter and everything. And then Ill look at my DMs and theyre just like thank you for that. Tell them I say thank you because that means the world to me.
JESSICA: I will. I will. Ok. Back to the haters for a moment.
JESSICA: Give them a minute so you can answer this. So some people have said when you see a gymnast whos had so many injuries, and you guys arent the first team thats gone through this. Every single World team, every Olympic team, basically the majority of the team
MCKAYLA: I remember Alicia had this huge ice pack on her shoulder at like the one Olympics, yeah its just
JESSICA: The majority of the team
MCKAYLA: breaking down
JESSICA: has surgeries afterwards and who needs a whole six months or a year to come back
MCKAYLA: Its crazy
JESSICA: Its not just you guys
MCKAYLA: Its a pattern
JESSICA: Its a pattern
MCKAYLA: Thats been happening. How do we prevent that?
MCKAYLA: You know?
JESSICA: Exactly. So some people said this is because of poor nutrition. Do you think any of this have to do with poor nutrition on your part?
MCKAYLA: I mean thats definitely a factor. Theres so many factors to it though. Theres mindset. Theres the way that youre thinking because it all starts with the mindset. It all starts with how you look at yourself. In the beginning when I felt good about myself, everythings good and you can kind of take the intense training. And you can take all that and really let everything else go. But when you have weight and nutrition and the pressure in the gym and just all the surgeries just stacked on top of you, its just too much to even kind of handle. Ive just seen so many people just be so hurt. Like not hurt like sad, like affected. Like, I was taught that resting was lazy. Resting was you just not trying hard enough. And I mean you would go into the gym and you would have something hurt. Most gymnasts are used to this. Just somebody saying no youre fine. And so you believe youre fine. Ive had, I came into the gym after Worlds in 2013 and my whole body felt like it was broken. It was shattering. I was just like oh my knees hurt so bad. And she was just like yeah, its probably just because you had a lot of days off so youve gained weight. And she didnt say it in a mean way. Its just like youve gained weight, you need to lose weight. And I was just like honestly in my head I was just like I wish that was the case. I wish I just needed to lose weight. But I knew that I was I needed to go get x-rays and MRIs. So I didnt listen to myself for a while. So I was just like I called my mom I was crying in the locker room I was just like mom I need to get an MRI. And I had tendinosis in one which was no blood flow in my leg. And literally people have their leg cut off from stuff like that which is super duper dangerous.
JESSICA: Super dangerous
MCKAYLA: So I had to get surgery on that. And then I also just had tendinitis, extremely bad tendinitis in this knee. And I was just told that I was making it up. And I needed to lose weight.
JESSICA: Your coaches were telling you this
MCKAYLA: Yeah. But I think thats what most gymnasts kind of get or thats what we got in my gym. They always make excuses for pain. And its just a joke. Because you literally you start thinking that your pain isnt real. And thats what got really bad for me when my health just started tanking. I for so long though I was going insane, I thought I was making it up. Thats what everybody was telling me. Youre just making it up. You need to work harder and eat less. And its just and then thats just a downward spiral. And then with the nutrition its like what you get and what most girls get but what I got was you need to lose weight. Thats just something thats very common. And thats ok. With gymnastics you do need to be light. Or else its dangerous with the skills that youre doing you cant put that much pressure on your body when youre training that long. So theres a piece of it that is correct. But that 24/7 going into the gym really just hating your body when you have that sort of mindset, your body starts deteriorating. I mean I would be training for seven hours and by the time it hit 8:00 I would be almost passing out. And I would be like wow good thing I didnt eat, I feel so light right now. And I didnt think that was messed up at all because nobody was saying that because I needed to lose weight. And they agreed. Yes. Youre looking skinnier, good job. Thats what I would get. I would get praise. And I think thats definitely something that could really help the next generation of girls if they really just look at that and see how can we become better and get these girls to be at their peak of body feeling great.
MCKAYLA: Because thats the most important thing. Mind, body, spirit, all has to be connected for you to go and do exactly what you need to do. Yeah.
JESSICA: So you knew when you came back from Worlds something was wrong. You didnt listen to yourself.
JESSICA: It was getting so bad that your leg was
MCKAYLA: Because my whole life I never listened to myself
JESSICA: You listen to your coaches, didnt stand up for yourself
JESSICA: Because thats what you were taught
MCKAYLA: Yeah. Theyve always kind of made me feel like I cant be myself. I mean, I would be on the bus at the Olympics and all the girls would be talking and listening to music and I wasnt allowed to listen to music or talk.
JESSICA: Ok can we
MCKAYLA: I just was very, they wanted me to do so well so bad that they didnt want any distractions for me.
JESSICA: Were you told when you go to meets dont talk to anyone and just focus?
MCKAYLA: They really just like think that everybodys going to affect you. Like, in a bad way. Instead of a good way. And I would be told to turn and face the wall. And dont look, I wasnt allowed to look at anybody. So I could, I was already a very focused gymnast to begin with. Aly would be like McKayla are you ok? Because I was just that, so focused. And so naturally that was me. But when I wanted to talk and when I wanted to be open and kind of have that conversation, I wasnt allowed to have it. And that was really hard because my personality is very just like outgoing like that. Like, I know Simones coach like Aimee just lets her smile, which Im just like super jealous of.
JESSICA: Lets her smile, lets just yeah
MCKAYLA: Well thats all I would ever want is just to
MCKAYLA: -enjoy competing, like, enjoy training. But I didnt really have that choice. So I just kind of like, was just traumatized consistently. And once you get stuck in not speaking up for yourself, the universe just keeps giving you more and more things that bring you down. Because you need to eventually learn how to speak up for yourself. And it was my lesson to learn. And I needed to learn it. And whoever, I put no blame on anybody for that, because Im here now. And Im happy. And Im just like, Im so happy to be doing this interview with you to begin with. But yeah, so it all happens for a reason again and Ill say that a million times over.
JESSICA: So weve kind of talked about your injuries. Weve talked about what it was like for you in the gym.
JESSICA: The struggles that youve gone through. And I remember the last time we saw an interview with you after your March 2014 you had your knee surgery. So this was five or six months after you felt like something wasnt right.
JESSICA: You finally had surgery on your knee for the tendinosis.
MCKAYLA: Mhmm. Too late, yeah.
JESSICA: And thats for the lack of blood flow
MCKAYLA: [LAUGHS] Never heard that before
JESSICA: Kill your bones. Right? Oh my god yeah. Then I remember you gave an interview at Visa Championships or P&Gs whatever it was in 2014 and you were like Im coming back
JESSICA: Im going to do this. Im determined.
MCKAYLA: And every time I ever said that, I meant it. And even when I told, I went to Classics in Chicago. I threw out the first pitch. And then I went and watched the girls there. And I was just like I really just wanted to be on the floor competing. And I went and looked at the vault and got so emotional because it will always just be my thing that I did and I loved. And I went and talked to Martha and was like yes Im serious about this, Im getting healthier, Im back in the gym, Im so excited about this year and this upcoming Olympics. And she was like great Im excited for you. And she was just really cool. And then I just got really unhealthy again.
JESSICA: So what happened?
MCKAYLA: So since October of 2014 I would go back to the gym and then burn myself out for three months. And I did that until probably like a couple months ago. And I would go to doctor after doctor. They thought I got so many blood tests. I took this one SnapChat picture of just like 15 blood tubes and the lady was like no you cant, you cant take pictures of the blood tubes.
MCKAYLA: And I was like damnit I wanted to show my friends how horrible shit Im going through right now. So I couldnt use that. But I was so unhealthy and tired that I couldnt get out of bed really. I mean I talked about it in my YouTube video.
JESSICA: In your video
MCKAYLA: I got depressed
JESSICA: I mean you talked about feeling suicidal and having a
JESSICA: lot of anxiety
MCKAYLA: Dark times
JESSICA: Yeah. Did you get
MCKAYLA: Im so out of that so its really hard for me to even go back to that point.
MCKAYLA: I dont even know how I got there. But I was there. And I mean its weird what depression can do to you. It sucks everything out of you. I just had no- I looked at the world and I thought that it was ugly. And it was the most horrible moment in my heart because I knew that it was beautiful. And I knew that there were so many good things about life that I used to love. And on social media I would just be like no Im fine. I was always trying to keep it positive and keep up what I wanted to be. Because I was just holding on to that hope that I was going to make it. And I wanted to make it so bad. I wanted the reason why I wanted to go to this next Olympics I finally figured it out. Its like, I wanted to show people that when everybody else is up against them, they can get through the struggle and the pain and just all the surgeries that I had and do it because they love something. And I just one day just was sitting outside and I was like why am I doing this. Yeah thats cool that I wanted to do it to help inspire people. But I didnt know how to be ok with not being a gymnast. Because you know I go into a Starbucks or Jamba Juice or anything and theyre like are you going to the next one? And until the other day, I was not ok with saying no. And I had no choice in my mind to be anything else. So even being burnt out, even having everything in my life tell me McKayla you have to be done, I know you dont want to, I know this is the one thing you really thought that was for you, but eventually you know you move on. And thats ok. And you have to be so passionate and so in love with gymnastics to be able to get to the Olympics. And when you start losing even just an ounce of that, I was just like Im not going to make it. Im not. I called Arthur and I was just like I think, I took a day- I remember the last day I was in the gym, my whole body felt like it was on fire. Have you ever been so tired that youre like, peaceful because you cant even, you have no thoughts?
JESSICA: Oh god that sounds so scary
MCKAYLA: I was just like wow Im so tired. And I just slept for three days. I was that burnt out. It was just so so bad. And I was just like Im going to try to pretend like Im done and see how that feels. And I just felt like a weight lift off me. Sometimes its the thing that you need to let go thats really holding you back from being healthy. And Im just ready to put my worth and value into something else. And Im just ready to just be excited about something else. Because I just got so bored with being unhealthy. Im just like Im over this. I dont think I was over gymnastics. I dont think that was the thing. I had so much more I wanted to do. I wanted to do a triple. I wanted to do half on full and a half. I wanted to do better bars. I wanted to win a gold medal on vault and to compete on floor. But my body was just like I dont really want to be treated like that anymore. And I dont want anybody to ever think that McKayla is retiring. I dont even want people to use that word. Because I didnt- I got into gymnastics when I was 18 months old. My mom put me in a mommy and me class. This is something Im always going to be a part of. Im never leaving this sport whether you like it or not Im sorry, Im staying. And the only difference is Im not competing anymore. But Im going to be on the sidelines. Im going to be at the Olympics cheering the girls on if I can. And its really hard for me to be able to be comfortable with saying that, because I havent felt like thats enough to be on the sidelines. To be just that girl thats just cheering, which is so messed up. Because thats not true. Everybody has their time and their moment. And Im moving on to my next moment. And we all have those things in our life. We hit different pieces. And for my fans that have been supporting me through this whole entire journey, I just want them to know that if its hard for them, that its hard for me too. And its definitely a grieving process.
MCKAYLA: And that Im here for them and I love them no matter if theyre my fan or not. And I hope that they can love me whether Im a gymnast or not. So, yeah.
JESSICA: Moving on to a different phase of your life now and to a new chapter. You have your face has changed, your eyes have changed
MCKAYLA: Stop! Oh my god
JESSICA: You look so happy
MCKAYLA: Because Ive been, I mean Ive been holding this in for a while. And I think its just so hard for a gymnast or an athlete to leave their sport with peace. How do you do that and make people happy? Because their person, their person that they love as an athlete is done. And its a goodbye for them. And its a goodbye for me. And its just, its just hard in general. So Ive been really just like, brewing on this whole emotion and feeling and how to say it the right way and just, I dont know if there is a right way to say it, other than just being honest. And the way that I think of it is so gymnastics was like my first love, right? My boyfriend. Think of it. Literally. And breaking up with this thing that Ive been doing for my whole entire life is like the most painful thing ever. And thats why Im lighting up because I finally get to really do something and tell my fans that I love with all my heart that Im going on this new journey. Im actually going to be getting into music now. And Im just so excited. Ive been writing and writing and just making demos. Im in production right now in the studio. And again, music is kind of like gymnastics. It takes a lot of hard work. I love being creative, I love writing, I love just the art. So this isnt something thats random. This isnt going off of anybodys thing that theyre telling me to do. This is going off of my heart. We think that for gymnasts that theres a peak and they hit it and theyre done. And I know that people will probably say that to me. But I dont even think that I hit my peak in my life. I dont think I did. And I think every moment is just a never ending healing and transformation of bettering yourself and becoming more and more you. And if this video does nothing else, I just want it to inspire people to really follow their dream. And thats what Ive stood for for my whole life. Even just getting into gymnastics. Eight years old. Im trying to go to the Olympics I would tell people. And theyd laugh at me. Theyd be like oh my god youre so cute. And Im like no Im serious. And Its all about believe in yourself and Im going to do that same thing now.
JESSICA: Spiritually critical, Im going to get a shirt that says that
MCKAYLA: Oh my god
JESSICA: Dont be so. Theres been a lot of criticism from some fans about AOGC and about Arthur and Galina specifically that their coaching style breaks gymnasts, either
MCKAYLA: I agree
JESSICA: Do you?
MCKAYLA: I completely agree. I love them, they love me, they love their gymnasts. But I started to learn that sometimes they really werent helping me in a mental way. And technical, let me just give Arthur and Galina, theyre the best technical coaches in the whole entire world. Arthur changed my gymnastics. And Im so forever grateful for that. But just like mentally, they just messed me up. Like so badly. And I love them with all my heart, but to speak my truth would to just be like to really say that it did affect me. And again theres a better way of doing things. I mean I at least got to the Olympics you know? So yeah.
JESSICA: When they talked to you about weight, how did that make you feel?
MCKAYLA: Well realistically thats how they were raised. You know? They had people that had it worse on them. They had it so hard. Arthur was telling me just the intensity they had. They werent allowed to talk or see people. They were stuck in really bad environments with mean coaches too. So for us, for them, looking at me its like wow she has it easy. She gets to go home. She has a cell phone. So you always have to kind of be like what did they mean there. I know they werent really, because theyre not trying to really hurt you, thats not their intention. All they want at the end of the day is for you to succeed and do well. And sometimes they just say things in the wrong way. And I was in the mindset where I would do anything for them. I listened to them more than I would listen to my parents. Because I knew that they were the people that were really going to help me get to where I needed to go. So I think in a way, Ive heard them talk about gymnasts like that. They just have it so easy, they just get to go home and eat dinner. Which is sad that that happened to them. But to mirror that, mirror your pain onto somebody else and take it out, thats not how youre going to build champions.
JESSICA: Whats so interesting to me is that youve got this
JESSICA: deep understanding for complexities of relationships and coaches and athlete dynamics down so well. You understand there are things that youve said that I think it takes adults years and years to really understand. And even when youre talking about your coaches, its like youre seeing them in a holistic way. Like they dont mean it this way but this was my experience, but theyre just doing this because this is what they learned so they think its best.
JESSICA: Its so impressive. And did you feel like you were parenting them as you were going along?
MCKAYLA: Thats so funny that you say that because I literally me and my mom were just talking about that the other day. When I broke my foot at Worlds before Japan, Arthur was freaking out. Like just he was just kind of stopped talking to me, ignored me, just which was really painful to be doing- I got first at the camp and just like that feeling and that energy and hugs and then to like me hurting my foot and then he could barely look at me, you know? I was terrified to get hurt. And I think thats why I got hurt so often. Because I would walk into the gym just even just regular gym just praying that I wouldnt get hurt. Which is so bad. Its just I knew it was bad. I was like stop thinking about this. But I was so traumatized from that experience of being so loved to like, nothing.
JESSICA: All the sudden withdrawn
MCKAYLA: Yeah and I kind of had to motivate him. He would come to me and he was like I dont know if he would talk to me. And I was like no Arthur Im going to be ok. Im going to be able to compete. My foots going to be ok. And yeah it just so I was, that was always me. And that becomes so mentally just exhausting. And physically when you already have just something broken and youre just reminding somebody Im going to be ok instead of the other way around. Youre going to be ok, were going to do this. I dont like talking about people in this sort of way. It doesnt feel right to me. But its just, that is what happened. And I think it happens for a lot of athletes, that you just, it hurts when youre not really cared about and somebody doesnt motivate you when theyre
JESSICA: They withdraw their affection if you dont perform.
JESSICA: So your worth is directly tied to how well you do
JESSICA: instead of just
MCKAYLA: And I think just the affection part. Like he still loved me and cared about me. But it was like he would just be like sitting in the corner. Like even Martha one time was like Arthur stop being a vampire. He was like hiding in the corner just couldnt even look at anything. Like he was, I think it was that painful for him. Like it was like he didnt want me to be hurt. And he had gymnasts in the past that got hurt too. And he told me one time, Im cursed. I have gymnasts that get hurt right before meets. So to be kind of that on me, like was just like I really and I did. I did keep getting hurt. And then I felt like I really dont want to do this to him. So I just felt so much pressure all the time to make him feel like I was taking that curse away from him. But its just like thats his own thing that he kind of needs to let go.
JESSICA: How do you think theyre going to react when they watch this?
MCKAYLA: I dont know. Thats still something that I just, Im kind of just I walked into this interview just kind of ignoring that part. Because again, you cant worry about what people are going to think. You cant. And if I was I dont think I would be here right now. And sorry for what I have to say if you dont like it. But this is me, take it or leave it. Thats it. [LAUGHS]
JESSICA: Thats so good. There is a certain stigma that goes along with being- and I feel like youre not being critical of gymnastics. You havent been critical of the sport itself. Its sort of like how the system is run and some of the techniques your coaches
MCKAYLA: Its like athletes in general. Like kind of just like things that we need to be informed about. Its not so much your fault. Its like hey lets work on this for our country so we can win more medals. I hope thats not the vibe thats coming off right now thats very blame-y, trying to say its all your fault, victim stuff. Because I respect them so much. Everything theyve done. Because I cant say that Ive done better. I havent brought a team to the Olympics. I didnt build USA Gymnastics you know? So again I dont have experience with that. But Im just saying what it was like for me to go through what I went through. And its as simple as that.
JESSICA: Do you think if there were some things that you would change right away, if you were going to work from the inside
JESSICA: Because you still love the sport, which you said
JESSICA: And you still want to be involved, what kind of things would you like to change so that people could stay longer, be healthy
JESSICA: And also not feel so guilty when its time to move on
MCKAYLA: Definitely first off is like when you get into gymnastics, knowing that it eventually it comes to an end. And thats its not your whole life. And thats perfectly fine. And that Id probably go into the camp and really change the food there and make it more real. Maybe make a different spot where the gymnasts can eat so we dont have to eat next to our coaches. Because we dont want to eat when were with them. And we just walk out early because its not worth eating with them so we just dont eat. And then just having maybe a nutritionist come in and really get somebody the right supplements, check their body, what are they missing, what are the nutrients theyre not getting, why do they crave this food so much? Its because theyre not getting enough this. So you know you always have to keep transforming and getting better and better and you cant just be like oh were good here. Its like no the worlds evolving, you have to keep evolving, I have to keep evolving or we just get stuck.
JESSICA: Had an episode a couple of shows ago about Marvin Sharp and the abuse scandal. And we had a couple of experts on. And one of them talked about, shes a psychologist, she talked about the reason that you put children in sports is to make them better people and teach them life lessons. Do you feel like the USA Gymnastics program, the elite program, is missing part of that part of sport?
MCKAYLA: I think in life you can take lessons from anything. I dont think its their job to be like Im going to teach these girls lessons. No this is a serious thing were here to make the Olympic team. I just think they need to take care of their girls and really form a relationship with them and keep the girls healthy. And make them the best gymnasts that they can be. And instead of just training them to their death, try to prevent them from dying [LAUGHS] you know?
JESSICA: Its the little things
MCKAYLA: Its the little things in life
JESSICA: Keep them from dying yes. So lets talk about the new chapter. What is the daily life like for you? Have you, I assumed youve graduated from high school now yes?
JESSICA: Yay. Have you thought about going to college or music school or doing
MCKAYLA: Right now I kind of am in a music school. Im in a music process with artist development and just learning a lot of different instruments and piano and just music theory. And really just finding who I am and who I want to be instead of just being like I just want to put out a song because I can. Because I can, but thats not what I want. I want this music to be true to who I am and speak through to many people. Because thats what Im making it. So college-wise I always knew that I was never going to do gymnastics for college, which is funny. Because girls would be like Im going to go here and I would be like yeah Im going to be an actress. Like I just always knew that. And people would just be like they looked at that like I was going to be a stripper. Like I was just not I didnt conform. And people literally looked down on me but I kept just being like yeah its just not for me. Just that normal schedule life just Im so done with it. Im just like I want to do things that are just freeing and just maybe one day when Im 40 Ill go and get my Bachelors degree in something. But not for now. For now I just want to, I missed a lot of my younger years, and I just kind of want to take it in.
JESSICA: You definitely earned it
MCKAYLA: Thank you
JESSICA: For sure, for sure. And I have something here that I think is something else that youre working on.
JESSICA: Can we discuss?
MCKAYLA: Yes, my leotard line
MCKAYLA: So thats something that Ive wanted to do forever because Ive always been a girl thats obsessed with being comfortable. So basically Im trying to make my own line of something that I really feel is still hitting the stylish point and also being comfortable. And also just feeling like wow I look really good right now.
MCKAYLA: Just kind of like that. And so weve designed a couple just to begin.
MCKAYLA: I finally have time to do things like this
MCKAYLA: You know?
JESSICA: Explore all your other talents
MCKAYLA: Right exactly
JESSICA: Yeah. I have to say I really, Ive seen these designs and some of your other designs
MCKAYLA: Yeah theres another, we made a lot of them so
JESSICA: And I thought they were amazing and creative and original.
MCKAYLA: Yeah, see this one is more for like weve been looking at fabrics and different things and really talking about stuff like that. My idea of a perfect leotard is you can go to the mall after. Like because I would do that sometimes super chalky. To buy
JESSICA: Yeah who hasnt gone to the grocery store after
MCKAYLA: a present for somebody, exactly. Like wow I look like a complete loser in this sparkly pink leotard. And Im like 20.
JESSICA: The scrunchie
MCKAYLA: Oh my god the scrunchie. That even tops it. Thats just like, who am I. It just doesnt make sense. When you feel good in something it makes you better so I just intend to make things that help people feel good.
JESSICA: So do you have, are you working with anyone right now in production? Are you looking for
MCKAYLA: Were trying to find somebody whos the right fit to help me make it. So because thats really important to find all the right fabrics and people. And the people to help make it the dream that you want it to be.
MCKAYLA: So were being very specific about that. But so no, thats the answer.
JESSICA: Not yet
JESSICA: Oh I think theres going to be a bidding war
MCKAYLA: Oh gosh
JESSICA: Your name and leotards
MCKAYLA: Thats cool Id be down for that.
JESSICA: Yes yes I think so. I want to thank you so much for being on the show.
MCKAYLA: No thank you, really, it means a lot to me to just be able to say all this stuff and talk non stop and just be annoying and just like really just get out everything that I need to say.
JESSICA: Yeah thats the thing
MCKAYLA: It was needed for me, yeah
JESSICA: And thats why I wanted to create this show, so that we can have gymnasts have more than just
MCKAYLA: A place to speak. Wow, thank you for doing that.
JESSICA: So thank you so much and I wish you the best of luck
MCKAYLA: Thank you
JESSICA: in the next chapter. Im Jessica, and you can find us every week. We do the podcast GymCastic at GymCastic.com. And whats your website so that they can follow you?
MCKAYLA: mckaylamaroney.com. And McKayla Maroney on Twitter and Instagram and whatever. And thank you again for listening. It means the world to me. If youve gotten through this far, just from the bottom of my heart thank you. I love you all. Peace and love. Thanks.
JESSICA: Thank you so much to McKayla for choosing us for this interview. We started this show because we wanted gymnastics to be treated like a normal sport. To get the same press coverage all year long, every year that the NFL, the basketball, the hockey, all those sports get. This is not a four year sport, we are not four year fans. Were here all the time just like the gymnasts are training all the time. And we try to honor the hard work of these athletes with a weekly show year round. We do more than 42 episodes a year, for free, and we want to keep it that way. And we just want to see the sport grow. And we love gymnastics. And thats why we do this show. And we wanted to create a place for the athletes to just come and have in depth conversations about whatevers important to them. I just want to thank you guys so much for your support, all the new Club Gym Nerd members because you guys help us pay the bills and it really matters. It makes a huge difference to us. Thank you so much. And to TumblTrak. This month we are having a tshirt design contest. The winner will be announced next week. Check out our website for details on that. Were also giving away a legends, the Cloud and Victory legends sweatshirt to one of our members this month. Its glorious. I love it so much. I dont want to part with it but Im going to send it to one of you guys. You want to find out more about the amazing people who make this show happen, check out the About page at gymcastic.com. Until next week, we will be back and we will talk all about the American Cup and do a little preview. So well see you guys next week. Thank you so much for listening. See you guys next week.