Episode 4 Transcript

[[Musical intro]]

TIM DAGGETT: GymCastic is fantastic!

ANNA LI: GymCastic is fantastic!

LOUIS SMITH: GymCastic is fantastic!

JESSICA: Welcome to Gymcastic. I am Jessica O’Beirne from Master-Gymnastics.com, and I’m joined by…

BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence with the Gymnastics Examiner

SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile

UNCLE TIM: Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JESSICA: And we have a super special guest with us today. We have Dvora Meyers here with us. Dvora, thank you so much for being here.

DVORA: Thanks for having me.

JESSICA: Dvora writes for… tell us all the places you write for.

DVORA: Jezebel, Deadspin, Slate, most recently the New York Post

JESSICA: And what’s your website?

DVORA: Unorthodox Gymnastics

JESSICA: Perfect.

DVORA: Where you can get your latest gymnastics and Jewish news. You know, if you’re interested in that kind of stuff.

JESSICA: [laughs]. So Dvora, welcome to the show. And remember that you, our listeners, can always find us on iTunes. You can find us at gymcastic.com. You can find us @gymcastic on Twitter. And today we’re going to do an interview with Louis Smith – of course one of the most amazing gymnasts to come out of Great Britain in a long time. And he’s going to talk to us a little bit about style, about what he’s doing nowadays, and if he has the motivation to keep going to Rio. And so we’re not going to do news this week because there’s really not a whole lot going on. But I do have an announcement – there is going to be a Masters meet, which is basically an adult gymnastics meet, so “Masters” just means when you’re out of the norm of regular competitive age. So in gymnastics that starts at, you know, 18. And there’s Masters leagues in every sport – wrestling, tennis, swimming, diving all have Masters leagues. And it’s not that known in gymnastics, but that’s part of what I’m trying to do with Masters-Gymnastics, and also with Gymnastike and their adult channel. So there’s going to be a Masters meet on November 11 at Azarian US Gymnastics Training Center in Aliso Viejo in California. That’s in southern California in Orange County. And it’s going to be a super fun meet. If you guys have never been to an adult gymnastics meet, they’re totally laid back, they’re super fun. People basically do everything they’re ever wanted to do but couldn’t do in their regular competitive career. You can wear whatever you want, as long as it’s safe. If you’re a woman that’s always wanted to do p-bars, it looked fun, you can do that. If you’re a man who’s always wanted to do a beam routine, you can do a floor routine to music, you can do that. If you want to block the entire beam up with mats and do your… you can do that. You can do half your bar routine on the regular bars, and then you can jump off, walk over to the pit bar, and do your giants and dismount into the pit. They’re really fun meets, and you can go online and look at some videos of Masters meets or adult gymnastics meets and you can go to Master-Gymnastics and get the flier info and the registration for that meet. And again it’s November 11 in Orange County. Now we’re going to take you directly into our interview with Louis Smith. We caught him after practice for his Dancing with the Stars show in London, and here it comes.

[[INTERVIEW SEGMENT]]

BLYTHE: You may know Louis Smith as one of the faces of British gymnastics. He made history for the British men’s team by breaking a 100-year medal drought at the 2008 Olympics where he took bronze on pommel horse. He did himself one better at the 2012 Games, where he won silver on his signature event, and was an integral part in the British team’s bronze medal performance. It, in itself, is another historic feat. Thank you for coming on the show, Louis. Now, we read in the British press that you are unofficially officially retired from gymnastics. That is the latest thing. And so can you tell me about that? Does that mean that you have definitely decided that you won’t return to training? Or, are you just on a hiatus?

LOUIS: It doesn’t really mean much. It means that I’m making the most of the opportunities I’ve got after the Olympic Games. So, you know, I’m on the dancing show now, which could potentially end in December. So that’s, like, four months out the sport. I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym to start training, but, in terms of competitions and, you know, the next thing… I’m not sure what the plan is yet.

BLYTHE: Let’s talk a little bit about Strictly Come Dancing. How long have you been training in preparation for that?

LOUIS: Just over a week now. A week and a half, I’ve been training away. So [laughs] it’s very different to what I’m used to. My body is in a state of pain currently.

BLYTHE: I’m sorry to hear that, what exactly hurts?

LOUIS: My bum cheeks are suffering, I’m not going to lie. My hips my knees, my ankles… they’re all quite sore.

BLYTHE: Being an elite gymnast, you’re used to training your body for a specific event. Do you feel that that gives you a leg up on some of your competitors?

LOUIS: I think it might be. I mean, the thing with gymnastics is that we pay a lot of attention to detail. So I think when it comes down to actually performing the routine and having a bit of flare, I think having my gymnastics background and my experience is going to help a little bit.

BLYTHE: What’s your partner like, and what’s it like working with another person to achieve a routine, whereas gymnastics it’s just you really.

LOUIS: I mean Flavia, my partner, is fantastic. You know, she’s a little Italian firecracker. She’s been very patient with me when I’m not always doing the right steps. But it’s tricky, you know, doing it with someone else. Normally what I do is quite independent. So I have a sense of responsibility not to let her down. It’s quite strange.

BLYTHE: And what’s been the hardest thing for you to pick up about dancing?

LOUIS: I think the hardest thing is being able to let go and have fun with it. With gymnastics, it’s quite militarized on the floor. You’re very sharp and clean. Whereas now I’m doing kind of the sexy cha-cha dance and, you know, I’ve got to kind of move my hips and smile and connect with the audience. It’s very different to try and sell it as opposed to what I’m used to with a pommel horse routine. So, I’m loosening up slowly. Slowly getting there.

BLYTHE: And, let’s turn to gymnastics for a second. You’ve accomplished a stunning amount for British gymnastics. Do you feel, after two Olympics and two Olympic medals individually and one with the team, that you have anything left to accomplish?

LOUIS: The way I look at my career… I don’t tend to look at the medals too much. I mean, at 23 years old I’m pretty much at the peak of my career. To any British athlete, competing in London was probably the biggest competition we’ll ever do in our lives. And the fact that I did my best every routine at that competition… you know, there’s not much that could be better than that. And the feeling and the response that I got from everyone, it’s just life-changing. And even if I did go to Rio and got a gold, I don’t think it would feel as good or have as much of an impact as what happened in London.

BLYTHE: Can you talk about that moment in men’s preliminaries after pommel horse. You were so emotional. Can you just tell us what it was like to live that, and what you were feeling when you had those tears in your eyes?

LOUIS: That was a very very emotional time. SInce Beijing, every single interview that I’ve done, every campaign every promo I’ve been a part of has been focused toward London 2012. For British athletes, and especially ones in the public eye, it has become a very nerve-wracking thing to be a part of. You know you’ve got the extra pressure and expectation to perform. So not only am I doing a pommel performance for myself, you know I’ve got 10 sponsors, I’ve got my mom that sacrificed so much of her life to help me achieve my dream, my coach who’s gone through exactly the same as what I have- being away from his family. So there’s so much that’s gone into my career, and I felt a big sense of responsibility to be able to perform. So when I landed my pommel horse routine and it was clean, I knew I was going to make the finale, it was like every second, every sacrifice, everyone’s hard work has been worth it. And it just came rushing into me within seconds, and it was just overwhelming.

BLYTHE: And in London, there were maybe some mixed emotions with the team. First you were in silver medal position and you thought that you had that silver medal for certainly a few minutes, more than a few minutes. And then the Brits unfortunately got knocked down to bronze. And again also on pommel horse, you know you had that tie-break score. And both times you ended up with a medal one color less sort of than what you thought you might have learned. And how much harder was that to go through a second time in event finals after what happened in team final?

LOUIS: Yeah I mean it was tough. Yeah I think with the team event it wasn’t so bad because we were.. it was so unexpected you know, we didn’t expect to get a medal, we just wanted to do our clean routines. And we knew even if Japan did jump in front, we were still going to end up with a medal. So it was a little bit hard to kind of see us go down into third, but we still got a bronze in the team event, which was massive for British gymnastics. But then it also kind of released a bit of pressure off me because going into the pommel horse final no matter what happened, I was leaving the Olympics with a medal. So in that sense that was good. But then obviously you know I did my pommel horse routine and as soon as I landed I knew I was in a shot for the gold medal. And then the score came up [laughs] the score came up and you know it was.. “have I beaten him, have I not?” It took a couple seconds to work out that we got the same score. So you know it was tough, but the response that I’ve had from the general public and the media and everyone kind of feels that my performance was… hard to kind of explain while trying to be professional. I mean, everyone kind of knows that my pommel horse routine was worth a gold medal. So maybe both of us should’ve gotten gold medals, who knows. But it felt like a gold winning routine. But obviously that wasn’t the case. But silver medal, I’m very happy. Very happy with silver.

BLYTHE: Pommel horse is an event that team Great Britain is just fabulous on. You know, Sam Oldham, and you, and Daniel Keatings, and Max Whitlock. Whereas a lot of other countries seem to really struggle with horse. Why do you think that it’s an event that you guys are so good at?

LOUIS: Well I think it stems from the club that I train at. Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, which is where I train, has always had a good reputation on the pommel horse. And when we go to national competitions and other clubs see how good we are on pommel horse, they adapt their training to match what we do. So we spend at least an hour on that apparatus you know working on routines working certain skills. So the other clubs kind of start to improve to try to catch up to what we’re doing and then when it comes to international competitions, because all the other clubs have improved on pommels, we kind of have a great GB team. So, I think it stems from our club being so successful, then it branches out into the next [inaudible] then we take that with us to international competitions.

BLYTHE: And my last real serious question is that I read that you were diagnosed with ADHD as a child and I was wondering if it affects you as an adult and affects you as a gymnast?

LOUIS: I don’t think it affects me as an adult now. I had a lot of growing up to do after the Beijing Olympics. British gymnastics… we really didn’t have any role models or ambassadors for the sport. I mean men. Obviously we have Beth Tweddle, but there wasn’t really anyone making any moves on the men’s side. So after Beijing I had a lot of growing up to do. I wasn’t the 19 year-old lad that could mess around and be a bit of a boy. I was sort.. I had to take responsibility for my actions and grow up. So, in that sense, you know gymnastics kind of helped me mature and turn into a young adult and be sensible and look after life really. I’ve directed all my finances into a house and I’m building my own house now and I want to start a business. I’ve got my head screwed on. And it was tough growing up with ADHD but I’ve got a good mom that’s kind of kept me on the straight and narrow and taught me a few tricks of life.

BLYTHE: If you weren’t doing gymnastics, what do you think you would be doing right now?

LOUIS: Umm..If I wasn’t doing gym I would probably be doing another sport. I had the opportunity to sing when I was about 7 years-old at a private school. I don’t know, I mean definitely not the type of guy to be working 9-5 in an office. I’m not sure.

UNCLE TIM: So we’re going to ask you a few quick questions and we’re wondering- is it easier to do pommel horse naked?

LOUIS: Umm.. a little bit, but you’ve got to be careful.

[[laughter]]

UNCLE TIM: And we know that you’re also interested in fashion. And so we’re curious if you could tell us who the best dressed gymnasts are? And who are the worst dressed?

LOUIS: I’d say I was definitely the best dressed gymnast. I’d say the worst is probably Daniel Purvis on the British team.

[[laughter]]

UNCLE TIM: So while you were at the Olympics, who was the athlete that you met that left you starstruck?

LOUIS: No one really.

UNCLE TIM: No one?

LOUIS: You kind of get used to seeing stars and stuff and you know… no one kind of left me starstruck. Quite strange.

UNCLE TIM: And who’s your favorite Spice Girl?

LOUIS: Spice Girl… probably Victoria Beckham.

[[mumbles]]

LOUIS: Forgot what Spice she was.

SPANNY: Posh. Posh.

LOUIS: Posh Spice.

UNCLE TIM: And could you tell us what your most embarrassing gymnastics moment is?

LOUIS: Most embarrassing gymnastics moment. Alright. My first international competitions, 12 years-old in Pennsylvania America, and I got into America, my coach got a phone call from my mom saying, “Louis has forgot his gymnastics bag.” And so I had to borrow everyone elses’ hand straps and stuff.

[[laughter]]

UNCLE TIM: Oh wow. Thank you so much, Louis, for being on our show.

LOUIS: You’re welcome.

UNCLE TIM: It was a pleasure.

LOUIS: Thank you for having me on.

JESSICA: Ok. In honor of the Louis Smith interview, we are going to talk about what it is we think that could make men’s gymnastics more popular. What could bring up the profile of men’s gymnastics in the US? So, let’s get some opinions on this.

BLYTHE: Well, the obvious answer is to have them do gymnastics with their shirts off. And while some people, and maybe including myself, wouldn’t mind seeing that happen occasionally, I think it’s kind of an easy answer, just to objectify them sexually. And then you’ll have women who are coming to meets and cheering them on and being rowdy. but more than that, it can be hard, and especially with the way men’s gymnastics is now. You have a lot routines that are almost compulsory. They all look the same. And unless you have a very trained eye, it can be hard to differentiate really who is the best one. And so, especially in elite gymnastics, this seems to be the case. So I would say you need to have original skills, you need to have high flying skills. And, Tim Daggett talked about this a little bit, he said that one of the problems in gymnastics is it’s very hard to know what it takes to win the sport. And that’s a problem. And I don’t even really know how to begin to say “well this is what needs to be fixed.” And in some ways it’s a great sport, you know, we all agree about that. But it does not seem to draw the fans, and that’s really a shame, especially in men’s gymnastics. And so to be quite honest, I don’t really have a great solution or idea, and I’m very interested to see what you guys think.

UNCLE TIM: Well I’m just kind of curious because I know Spanny back in the day wrote on her blog that she didn’t really like men’s gymnastics or really wasn’t as much of a fan of it as women’s gymnastics. And I think part of addressing this issue is understanding why people aren’t interested in it. What makes it unappealing to certain people. And so I was kind of curious as to what Spanny thought about men’s gymnastics, why it wasn’t as interesting or exciting as women’s gymnastics.

SPANNY: For me it’s… admitted like… I don’t know enough about it. I feel like I’ll watch and I don’t know what the guy did on the pommel horse. There was a spinny thing- “oh look, another spinny thing, look at him spin!” I can appreciate it on the level of when I see them… when people are… when they’re enthusiastic, I find myself cheering them on. I’m an NBC troll in that way. For me it’s just a lack of knowledge. And whether it’s… I don’t go out of my way to watch men’s gymnastics the way I do women’s. Like I can’t sit and blame NBC. But it’s like, they show 10 minutes of men’s gymnastics a year. How is that enough for someone who isn’t going out of their way to research about it? How is that enough to draw anybody’s attention? I think it’d be a huge risk for NBC or any outlet really to devote the time and attention to the men, but I think that’s what it would take eventually to get people interested. It has to start somewhere, and it has to have the exposure, which is what [inaudible] doing, but yeah, but when Nationals was here in St. Paul the other year, I went to the men’s and I enjoyed it. It’s one of things you need to see live, I think you need to be invested, but am I going to pause my day and stare at the TV while they do spinny things? Probably not.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah I was thinking about that too. I feel like there’s kind of a learning curve because women’s gymnastics has been covered for so long so people have been able to kind of follow the evolution of the sport. And with men’s it’s kind of something that’s starting to be covered more, but at the same time people kind of haven’t been following it for so long so they haven’t necessarily seen the progression and all the sudden it’s like “well, how do I know you know the difference between one spinny thing on the pommel horse and all these different spinny things and what makes one spinny thing harder” because they haven’t seen how the different spinny things have evolved throughout the years. And yeah, I’ve thought about that.

JESSICA: One thing I think is that we should change their outfits somehow. Their outfits are so boring! Like the women’s outfits have totally evolved and the men’s outfits are totally boring. And I’m not talking about the Hamm.. like good for them for trying to do something and get a new outfit approved by the FIG, but I don’t like their outfit. It’s just there’s something about… I just feel like you can’t tell who’s who from far away. And I like the old school like Japanese men’s style where they had the suspenders – even though suspenders are totally dangerous and they shouldn’t wear suspenders – but there was a classy look to that. Kind of suave. And like, bring that back somehow, I would really like that. I think the changing in the outfits. I think definitely bringing back originality and virtuosity – even though that could you know lead to cheating, but that’s artistic. Anything where it’s an artistic sport, you’re gonna have those problems. And I think a… winning certain events, like at a college meet you could do that. You could have something where there’s a special award and you have an applause-o-meter where it’s like the person who gets the loudest cheers gets a special award. Or something just to get people into it. I think that on floor, bringing back the artistry. Like right now when we talked about this in the Tim Daggett interview, you know you aren’t allowed to just step into the corner. But these like half-ass stag jumps. Like hell no. If you don’t do a full stag jump and your back leg isn’t horizontal that should be a point off. Because that is a requirement and they are not, you know… they’ve taken that artistry away from men’s gym. And I loved watching the old men’s gymnastics routines that were really artistic, and everyone loved watching that guy from Chile. What was his name, Blythe?

BLYTHE: Tomas Gonzalez

JESSICA: Thank you! Blythe’s our go-to for all these names because she’s so good. Everyone loved that guy, you know. And his gymnastics is not properly rewarded I think anymore. And I just loved watching him, I loved his floor routine, everyone remembers him. People that know nothing about gymnastics remembered him and why? Because he did things that made people go, “ooh!” The other thing I think is that… encourage more releases instead of.. and de-value high bar intricacies. Of all the pirouettes… like pirouettes are fine but are really boring for the fans to watch. Like, you know, allow one crazy ass difficult pirouette into a release. But remember days when, you know like Chainey Umphrey used to do like five releases skills in a row? More of that kind of stuff. Even if they’re simple but they’re done beautifully. And there are people doing that, you know, that’s why Epke won because he did that kind of thing. But I like to see that. And then, of course, sex appeal, people. It gets back to sex appeal. Let’s not underestimate the power of sex appeal for a men’s sport. You know this is why Utah Gymnastics back in the day when their posters – this is a female sport – but back in the day University of Utah had their posters of their gymnasts basically… butt on a full size poster practically wearing a thong. You know, they don’t do that kind of stuff now, but back in the late 70s early 80s when they started, there is no doubt in my mind that that is why that program grew and is so incredibly popular, because they did not shy away from the sex appeal of the gymnasts. And I think that men’s gymnastics should get over their stupid homophobia and embrace the fact that there are super hot guys that can attract both female and male fans, and totally embrace that audience. You know, any audience is a great audience. And I think that it would do wonders for the sport and I think they should totally embrace that. They work hard for the bodies that they have, they should be proud of it. And you know, and bring that element into the sport.

UNCLE TIM: I think there are a couple of points I kind of want to address with what Jessica said. Like I do agree that having sex appeal… I mean it attracts people to the sport. But at the same time contrary to what Zoolander said, there’s more to life than being extremely good looking. And I think that what, at least we need in America, is a man who has a really big personality and who will end up on shows like Dancing with the Stars, or Strictly Come Dancing. Somebody who’s going to kind of be almost a Louis Smith who has a good personality and who has really made his… almost his job to kind of be a defender of the sport. And I think that in America we haven’t really had that person in the last, you know, 20 something years. I think there have been successful gymnasts obviously like the Hamm twins and Jonathan Horton, but nobody has been really able to captivate America yet, and that’s something else we could discuss: why men who are over the age of 18 haven’t really captivate Americans in general. And then also I think you brought up an interesting point with the homophobia. And I think that definitely for the men, some of them might have to get over a little bit of homophobia. Like “these gay men are attracted to me, oh what do I do?!” I also think that… not just about sexuality, there’s also a question of what we expect boys to do and what we expect girls to do. So we think that boys should play football and basketball and baseball and for whatever reason we don’t really think that boys should do gymnastics, in general. I mean obviously we all think that boys should do gymnastics on this show, but generally speaking I think that there’s that attitude. I mean I think it’s changing, but I don’t know how we can end up breaking the gender norms that we have in society right now. And I don’t know how long it will take before we can do that. I think it does help with having shows like So You Think You Can Dance where you have dance and you have men on these shows doing dance, which is not gymnastics. But I think in the past, dance probably had kind of similar reputation to gymnastics.

BLYTHE: Well, it’s interesting because gymnastics is really in it’s way such a solitary sport. Especially perhaps if you are a male gymnast. There are club titles to be won and team titles, but if feels like especially if you’re an elite it’s not until you get to World Championships or the Olympic Games or the NCAA that you’re really competing as a member of the team. Whereas if you go and join a local club soccer team, you’re always part of the team and you’re always one of the guys, one of the members. Whereas in gymnastics you don’t get that. And so maybe people are less attracted to that. It’s just a suggestion, I don’t really know. But it can be a lonely sport.

JESSICA: I think one of the interesting things that… to go back to this about gender norms… is that, I asked Nastia’s agent Evan Morgenstein once on Twitter… he was like “ask me anything” and I was like basically, “why do you think gymnastics isn’t more popular? And what can we do for that?” And he said he think part of it is that they lose men after age 10 or 12. Like, boys start in gymnastics, but they don’t stay in gymnastics. And I thought that was really interesting. And I think part of that goes to… that, I think I agree with you, wanting to be part of a team. But also part of that, you know, you have to be in a combat sport to be a man. Like that’s what we expect of men. You know, and somehow people don’t think that gymnastics is… you know, it’s not… “combatting apparatus” is not the kind of combat they want. You know it’s not the manly thing it used to be. I mean I feel like it kind of used to be and it lost that somewhere along the way. You know… not like a tough guy sport, but it used to be like a man’s sport. It used to be more macho than people see it now. I don’t know if it’s because the culture has changed or if it’s just American culture because, you know, modern gymnastics came from the Germanic societies in Europe as we perform it now. But that’s very interesting.

SPANNY: Well I think you would have to look at American culture because how… why in Japan, why is men’s gymnastics arguably more popular than women’s? You know it’s… maybe the same in China. Like why over there is it still considered like, the top. And here, you know. And maybe consider endorsements. Like, Kohei is all over everything, he’s a star in Japan. Here… and I think this helped his visibility when John was in the Fighter video. They took a risk and they take a male gymnast to be the hero in the video and it worked out and it did give him the exposure. I think we need… and again, what’s got to come first, the popularity or the exposure? They’re going to help each other. But I do, I think it’s a cultural thing. I think for whatever reason here, like we’ve all touched on, it’s like… football you can wear spandex and that’s a man’s sport, but gymnastics you wear spandex and that’s not okay.

BLYTHE: You could also look at it from a sort of historic viewpoint. One of the reasons that maybe in the 80s when the Cold War was still going on and the Soviet Union was still together, you see it in a lot of different fronts, this Cold War playing out. The sporting fields were one of the places in which it did. And to beat the Soviets at something, that meant something. And it didn’t matter whether it was hockey or gymnastics, even though of course the SOviets didn’t compete in 1984 in Los Angeles when the US men won. I feel like there was a sense, you know, 20 30 years ago of battling against the greater force in sports, and that added I kind of masculinity to a sport like gymnastics where you have this “other.” But while the Soviet Union is gone. And so it’s not quite the same. And there’s some Soviet art that really exalts the gymnasts. And the male gymnasts. And it was really perhaps.. and still is in a lot of ways seen as very Soviet sport. Everybody loves the Soviet women and the Soviet men. And we sort of look back at that and say, “Wow wasn’t that a great era? Gee we wish that people were more like that today in the way they do gymnastics.” And maybe especially in men’s gymnastics, and women’s gymnastics too. But it’s hard to say. You don’t feel that there is a great national force combating against this other great national force. And it’s a kind of clash of the titans thing. Unfortunately not in men’s gymnastics anymore. And maybe you never did, maybe I’m totally reaching. But just sort of… two cents on the history of that.

JESSICA: So I think we’ve established now that what we need is the men to wear next to nothing, to do more artistry, and then we need them to be surrounded by people with bombs strapped to them to create the sense that by doing great gymnastics they are defeating terrorism.

SPANNY: A new reality show!

UNCLE TIM: Reality show, yeah! Going back to Blythe’s point, I think there was a little bit of this national force in action with the Beijing Olympics with China vs the United States… China vs the United States in gymnastics and then China vs the United States in the economy. And I think that we saw that play out with the women, but I don’t think that people thought that our men’s team could necessarily compete with the Chinese team. And so we didn’t really get that hype of United States vs China, even though we ended up winning a team medal, which was awesome. But it still felt like luck rather than these two superpowers going head to head against each other.

BLYTHE: And that’s one thing that makes Olympic sports especially interesting. You have, not just athletes from different countries, but it’s almost like you have national philosophies going up against each other. And whichever athlete wins, it says something, we think maybe, about their national philosophy. So you have these sort of epic battles like the US vs China, and that’s exactly what the Beijing Olympics was about.

JESSICA: One point I think also that goes into this is going back to the masculine/non-masculine thing, is that… when you look at a sport like basketball, basketball is manly but it’s popular because it’s easy. Anyone… oh bring it! If any listeners, if you have an issue with that, bring it! I will take you on about basketball being easy! So.. but since we’re all gymnastics fans, we know that’s true. So, but it’s manly because it’s easy. Anyone can go outside and pick up a basketball and dribble and all that stuff. Anyone can do that. But gymnastics is really hard and it becomes emasculating when guys can’t do it. You know when they try it, just the basics, and can’t do it, that’s emasculating I feel like to some men. And it goes back to that… I think the dynamic of something anyone can do, it’s more accessible, people get it. you know, everyone can relate to a ball in your hand. But something that’s so difficult can then be something that men put down or that people put down because they’re like, “well it’s stupid, I don’t get it.” But basically it’s because it’s really hard.

UNCLE TIM: It might also help then, going along with that, if we have more people like… oh who just did a gymnastics video.. a Chicago Bears… football player. A former Chicago Bears football player got in the gym and did some cuts or whatever on the pommel horse and swung on the high bar. I think it would be interesting if you had some former athletes… not necessarily people in season… but former athletes who did that. There used to be a Circus with the Stars way back in the day where they would try to do the trapeze and stuff. I think it would be interesting to see some former athletes or even movie stars just try to do gymnastics one day and videotape it. Going back to somebody’s point about age earlier, I think it’s also… you have to think about being in school. So, I mean, most male gymnasts aren’t homeschooled. Especially at age 12 or whatever they’re probably still going to regular school. And you have to think at that point in your life, you kind of what to fit in. And when you’re 12, sure some of your friends might see Jonathan Horton or whatever on TV doing these amazing skills and then when you’re 12 as a male gymnast you’re probably not doing a lot of those amazing skills yet. So when your friends ask you, “oh can you do that?” You’re like, “no… I can’t… but I’m working toward it.” Versus a female gymnast at age 12 might be doing layout stepouts on beam, she might be doing a double layout off of bars, so the experience is probably a little bit different for a male gymnast and a female gymnast, and it’s hard to be the only person doing that sport. You’re in middle school and high school, like Blythe said, it’s kind of lonely when you’re the only person in your school doing that, and you feel kind of like a loner. And then it’s sometimes hard to go to the basketball game or the football game with all your friends because you have practice and you’re the only one of your friends going to practice. Although I think that nowadays more gymnasts are trying to have more normal lives and go to football games and go to basketball games and go to prom and do those things. So, it’s probably helping with male and female gymnasts.

[[LISTENER FEEDBACK]]

SPANNY: We appreciate your feedback on Twitter, Facebook, the website. Address a couple of things: first a couple nice comments. [inaudible] we meet again. “I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life for this podcast to exist, and it is awesome. Really enjoyed the Anna interview.” To which we say thank you we’ve also been waiting for this podcast. And I think a lot of people are. You know, our goal is to provide a service that has yet to be provided, I guess. And as the one and only and very best podcast on the gymternet, we thank you. People really seem to like Anna Li. “Just caught this week’s podcast. I loved the interview with Anna Li. We need a photo of the infamous costume she mentioned.”

JESSICA: [laughs]

SPANNY: Maybe if we’re lucky enough we will catch it on the NBC showing, which… when is that again?

UNCLE TIM: Sunday the 14th

SPANNY: Sunday the 14th, NBC, guys. Catch the sperm costume. Responses to last week: “Shawn is much more well known because she was on Dancing with the Stars and is on there again. Had Nastia been on there, she would have been.” I don’t know do you guys agree? Do you guys disagree that Shawn has only Dancing with the Stars to thank? Or is her agent just a beast? If you judge only by Twitter trending, every time Shawn goes up to do a routine, her name is like… people all the sudden remember who she is. Like “Oh my gosh, Shawn! The Olympics!” Like, every week it’s the same thing. Maybe we have Dancing with the Stars to thank. Alright a few responses: throughout the week we had asked to tie into our men’s gymnastics discussion, which men’s gymnast would you like us to interview? And we got a lot of… a lot of people said Morgan Hamm, Sam, Jonathan Horton, Jake Dalton, someone similar. It’d be great to hear about competing eelite and NCAA. Which I think is intersting. I think we give… NBC donates so much air time to “wow she went to colllege and now she’s back in elite! Elite and college!” And then you think about these guys that are doing both at the same time. That’s incredible. I thought this was interesting, is that we had a lot of responses that said Morgan Hamm. Morgan Hamm. We had one sad Paul Hamm. And for that, I blame the “I want to kill you guys” incident [laugh].

JESSICA: [laughs]

SPANNY: And that nobody wants to hear from him. I think that makes him a more interesting interviewee, and I want to ask him about why he wants to kill you guys [laugh].

JESSICA: [laughs]

SPANNY: And something interesting, I mean regardless of what you think about 2004, I think most people generally acknowledged him as some sort of a champion. And yeah I thought it was interesting that we got a lot more feedback for his brother. And then the one final… this is from Dannel Em[inaudible]: this is not a question but “yall need to look into interviewing Peng Peng Lee.” Which I respond: I agree. Peng Peng, get at us, because we love you. If you have anything you’d like to say, positive or negative, you can email us at gymcastic@gmail.com. You can find us on Facebook, on Twitter, the website. Speaking of the website, I do have one more. This pertains to last week’s discussion about Russian… well the Russian stuff. So for Russian facebook… I’m not going to try to pronounce that… Vkontakte… “in contact.” We had a great comment from Lauren C who breaks down a bit more of Russian facebook. That they are, you know, more or less verified accounts from the national team. She does explain the Komova “useless vegetable” comment, which I think is helpful in that, this is from a year ago… a year ago now I guess. After 2011 Worlds, gym fans were being a bunch of buttholes. And I have such a hard time believing that, because we are never buttholes to the gymnasts. No but seriously they were on her about… she didn’t chuck the Amanar and almost die for the gold medal. Oh no, we should harass her. And she [inaudible] a bunch of jerks by calling us “useless vegetables” that I don’t think anybody can blame her for that. Also, if you find yourself listening to us on iTunes, like you should, please rate and review us. Because, when you review us, people see us, and then you get more podcasts. And that’s what we all want, right? So please rate and review on iTunes!

JESSICA: And now Spanny is going to do something that relates to our Code discussion. She created something absolutely fantastic which is… in the Code there are like oaths that the judges, coaches, gymnasts have to take. And we really didn’t think they were substantial enough or address the issues that matter to the fans. So Spanny has created her own fantastic Oath for Gymnasts. SHe is going to give it to Dvora right now. And if you would like to administer this oath to your gymnasts or to yourself, please videotape yourself giving the athlete oath, the GymCastic Athlete Oath, the best athlete oath in the world, to your gymnast, put it up on YouTube, tag us, put it up on Facebook, let us know it’s there. We would love to see it. So here comes Spanny’s athlete oath.

SPANNY: I declare on my honor

DVORA: I declare on my honor

SPANNY: That as a gymnast, I will make an attempt to do pretty gymnastics

DVORA: That as a gymnast, I will make an attempt to do pretty gymnastics

SPANNY: I will not bust my wrist nor shelf my butt in an attempt to portray artistry

DVORA: I will not bust my wrist nor shelf my butt in an attempt to portray artistry

SPANNY: I will flash neither my hiney nor hip bone

DVORA: I will flash neither my hiney nor my hip bone

SPANNY: For I understand that doing so will not actually give me longer lines

DVORA: For I understand that doing so will not actually give me longer lines

SPANNY: I will perform skills to the best of my ability

DVORA: I will perform skills to the best of my ability

SPANNY: And understand that chucking horrific yet highly valued elements is a recipe for death

DVORA: And understand that chucking horrific yet highly valued elements is a recipe for death

SPANNY: With consideration to the fans and myself, I will try not to die while performing my skill

DVORA: With consideration to the fans and myself, I will try not to die while performing my skill

SPANNY: I hereby swear to uphold the tenets of grace and dignity of gymnastics

DVORA: I hereby swear to uphold the tenets of grace and dignity of gymnastics

SPANNY: And not cause fans to run to YouTube to recall a better time

DVORA: And not force fans to run to YouTube to recall a better time

SPANNY: In the name of gymnastics and Nadia, amen.

DVORA: In the name of gymnastics and Nadia, amen.

JESSICA: That’s it for this week. Thanks everyone for listening. I have to tell you guys, we have absolutely the best fans ever. We… seriously we’re only three weeks old and every Monday morning we wake up to your tweets, already listening to the podcast, excited for the podcast for the week. We’re absolutely overwhelmed at the response we’re getting, you guys, and you’re so understanding that we’re just starting out with this and that our main goal is just bring more attention to gymnastics. You know that’s really what we want to do so we can’t thank you guys enough. You’re absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for all the support and for understanding and you know loving us through our growing pains here. So next week we’re going to have an interview with Allison Taylor about growing up at WOGA and what it was like to be in Valeri’s very first successful elite group, growing up with Nastia and Megan Dowlen. And she’s going to tell us a little bit about… she has some great stories about going and training in Russia and some other stories. So it’s a fun interview so we’re excited to bring that to you. And remember you can find us on iTunes, you can always listen to the podcast on our website, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter. Please send us your feedback. You can always email us if there’s something you want to ask us privately or let us know about. It’s gymcastic@gmail.com. So until next time I am Jessica O’Beirne from masters-gymnastics.com.

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe Lawrence from the Gymnastics Examiner

SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile

UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

DVORA: Dvora Meyers from Unorthodox Gymnastics

JESSICA: See you next time.

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