Nastia Liukin is five times Olympic medalist and Nine times World Championship medalist in artistic gymnastics. She is in conversation with Namita Nayyar President Women Fitness.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You started doing gymnastics at an early age of six years and competed in your first National Championships as a junior in 2002, at the age of 12½ years.
You reached the pinnacle of success in artistic gymnastics when you won gold in individual all-around champion at 2008 Olympic Games at Beijing and also four other Olympic medals. What factors you consider were responsible that made you achieve that?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: There are many factors that are responsible for achieving any kind of goal like this. First is obviously to set that goal for yourself, but also remembering to set not just long term goals- like the Olympics were for me- but short term goals as well. It’s important to set daily, weekly, monthly goals to feel like you’re striving to achieve something on a daily basis.
While any amount of talent is helpful, that will only get you so far. Hard work and discipline, are far more beneficial factors to achieving any kind of accomplishment. And believing in your goals no matter how many people tell you that they are impossible, is crucial.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: Your father Valeri Liukin and mother Anna Liukin were world-class athletes. You father won four medals at the 1988 Olympic Games including two gold medals in gymnastics and your mother was a 1987 rhythmic gymnastics world champion. Your father teamed with another former Soviet champion athlete, Evgeny Marchenko and started the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Plano. How this formidable gymnastics background was a catalyst in making you a world leading olympic gymnast?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: My parents moved to the United States with hardly any money, not a word of English and a dream to open up a gymnastics school and one day coach their own athletes on to the World Championships and Olympic Games. They never even dreamed it would one day be their own daughter. Seeing them work so hard day after day, penny after penny, to try to achieve their dreams made me believe anything is possible if you set your mind to something and work hard every single day.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You have innovated your own mesmerizing style of artistic gymnastics. Elaborate on your winning artistic gymnastics concept?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: I was a very different gymnast than most of my teammates and competitors. At 5’3 I was the tallest of our team, so that already gave my gymnastics style a different flare. I was never as strong as the other girls, but I worked twice as long to get as strong as I needed to be, the be competitive with them. I also wanted to perform routines that were unique, and had a “wow” factor.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: What exercises comprise your fitness regime or workout routine you shall like to share?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: My training has changed quite a bit in the last two years. For over ten years of my life I trained 7 hours a day, 6 days a week. As I have finished my competitive career, I have learned so much about my body and what type of workouts work best for me. While everyone has different needs and benefits from different types of workout, my body responses best to a combination of running, Pilates (reformer) and yoga. I do change it up every now and then and love trying to workout classes with friends such as Soul
Cycle, kick boxing or Barre classes.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: Do you take some special diet or have a strict menu that you follow to remain healthy and physically fit?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: I don’t really follow or believe in a specific diet other than trying to eat organic, clean and unprocessed food. Having a well-balanced menu is very critical. I don’t eat much red meat, but I love fish and occasionally chicken.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You have glowing skin and gorgeous hair. Do you take some kind of skin treatment to keep it young and glowing and secondly, what do you do to your hair to make it look so stunning?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: Water, water and more water. Staying hydrated is the number one most important thing, not only for your skin and hair, but for your whole body. (Especially when traveling!!!) I wash my face in the morning and evening before bed, but also after every workout. Eating healthy fats/oils (such as avocado, salmon, etc) are also great benefits to glowing skin and healthy hair. I also love coconut oil… Using it as a moisturizer for your face before going to sleep is great or even using it as a mask for your hair occasionally.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: Advice and motivational words to the inspiring and budding artistic gymnastics girls who all are your fans, they shall like to know from you, what they should do for their climb to ladder of success in field of artistic gymnastics ?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: Setting daily, weekly, monthly goals, as well as a long term goal. I created a vision board for myself with images of my goals, whether it was an Olympic medal or an Eiffel Tower (I had always wanted to visit Paris) Seeing these things every morning when you wake up reminds you of your goals and gets you motivated for the day.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: How did you feel before and after winning two golds at 2005 World Championships in Melbourne at Uneven Bars and Balance Beam category ?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: Melbourne will forever be one of my most memorable competitions of my career. Being crowned “world champion” for the first time in my career was something I will remember so vividly for many years to come. I remember having dinner with my parents that evening and telling them I had dreamed about this moment for so many years, and finally I was a World Champion, just like both of them.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: Who has been your greatest influencer and motivator in your success in the field of your career in competitive artistic gymnastics ?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: My parents have been my greatest influencer and motivator both in my gymnastics career and now just in life. As I’ve gotten older I have realized how incredible it was that they moved halfway across the world with a baby (me), no money and just a dream. Exactly 20 years later, they have 3 successful gymnastics schools in the Dallas area with over 3,000 kids. It truly made me believe anything is possible, even against all odds.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You acted in April 2006 Touchstone Pictures film “Stick It”, a 2008 episode of Gossip Girl and a quick cameo appearance on the Bravo TV show “NYC Prep” and has appeared in numerous television shows. Tell us about yours endeavor of acting and appearances on TV ?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: I really enjoyed the cameos I had in Stick It and Gossip Girl, but I don’t necessarily have a real desire to pursue acting. If an opportunity for another cameo came around, I would definitely love to take that opportunity. I met some of the most talented people who have worked their entire lives to be professionals in their career, just as I did in gymnastics.
I am now a gymnastics analyst and correspondent for NBC Olympics, which I really enjoy. Gymnastics has been my number one passion since I can remember. Being able to continue that passion on the other side things have been something I really enjoy. I know I’m not an expert (yet!) but I believe you have to start somewhere and with every event you gain knowledge and experience.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: What you wish to say about the website Womenfitness.net and message for its visitors?
Ms. Nastia Liukin: I’ve been a fan of the website so I’m excited to have given all the readers a little glimpse into my life, as my competitor career has come to an end and I know I am transitioning into the second phase of my life. I have met and learned from some of the most incredible people during my journey, and now I love being able to share those things now.