After capturing the heart of the nation at the 2016 Rio Olympics as a part of the gold-winning Final Five gymnastics team, Simone Biles took a well-deserved year-long hiatus from training. Even though she wasn’t grinding away in the gym every day, Biles kept herself very busy this past year — not only did the superstar athlete spend some much-needed time catching up with friends and family, but she also waltzed her way to fourth place on Dancing With the Stars, shot an inspiring Sports Illustrated spread with fellow Olympian Aly Raisman, and released a best-selling memoir titled Courage to Soar.
(Photo via Getty/Jason LaVeris)
But after almost a year away, Biles is more than ready to head back to the gym for full-time gymnastics training. We recently got the opportunity to catch up with Biles and chat about her new Olympics training program, her goals for the upcoming year, and everything she’s loving right now (including her recent obsession with Riverdale).
Brit + Co: First of all, we’re so excited to hear that you’re returning to Olympics training in November! How are you feeling about getting back into the gym for full-time training?
Simone Biles: I’m really excited because I’ve been all over the place this past year, so it’ll be nice to go back to normal — or what feels normal to me — again, which is training.
B+C: After training with your coach Aimee Boorman for almost your entire career, it must be an interesting transition working with a new coach this fall. How are you finding the change?
SB: I’m excited about the change and the chance to work with Laurent Landi. Laurent specializes in bar work, and out of all my events, bar is a little weaker than the rest of them. Hopefully working with him will make me a little bit better at bar and boost my confidence while performing my bar routine.
(Photo via Getty/Emmanual Dunand)
B+C: We’ve heard that you’re hesitant about calling this a comeback. Why?
SB: I feel like once it’s viewed as a comeback… which everyone’s already done… they are setting expectations for me before I get to set them for myself. I don’t feel like that’s fair for them to do.
B+C: Young girls and athletes around the country were incredibly inspired by the Final Five during the 2016 Rio Olympics. What’s it like having a nation of young women look up to you?
SB: It’s an honor to have all these young kids look up to us. A long time ago we were in their same shoes, so I think it’s super exciting, especially when we get to meet the kids. It’s also important for them to hear our stories about where we came from and our backgrounds to see that if we can do it, they can do it one day too, with enough hard work and dedication.
B+C: You’ve recently partnered with Target and Always to help donate one million dollars to Girls on the Run, a national non-profit organization dedicated to help puberty-age girls realize their limitless potential. Can you tell us a little more about the partnership and what inspired you to want to work with Girls on the Run?
SB: What inspired me to partner with Girls on the Run is that it’s all about empowering kids. I love working with kids, and this program is great because it’s really about confidence-building, which is very important for everyone. I was on a team when I was younger, and I remember how that impacted my confidence, so I personally know that it does help to work with a team to build leadership skills and confidence. I am amazed and appreciative that Always and Target are doing so much to help.
(Photo via Getty/Toshifumi Kitamura)
B+C: Back in grade school, kids in your class used to call you swoldger (a cross between swollen and soldier). How has your own upbringing helped you want to inspire other girls to value being strong?
SB: I feel like in this day and age strong is the new beautiful, and you see more girls wanting to be involved in sports, wanting to have muscles and looking up to those kinds of role models. I think that’s pretty exciting for this generation, but when I was growing up it was a little bit different. Not a lot of kids did gymnastics, so when they saw my muscles they thought it was a little odd. I’d feel weird at school, but once I was at the gym, all the girls looked like me. We wouldn’t be able to do the things we do if we didn’t have our muscles.
B+C: What’s one tidbit of advice you wish you could give every young girl who is growing up in America today?
SB: Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. I think that’s probably the biggest tidbit of advice I give, because it does hold a lot of kids back, especially the ones who want to be athletes or whatever else they want to be — it’s okay to be the odd one out.
Fast Faves: Lightning Questions With Simone Biles
(Photo via Getty/Toshifumi Kitamura)
1. Current favorite workout song? Anything by G-Eazy.
2. Favorite TV show to binge-watch? I just started watching Riverdale — it’s a good one to binge watch.
3. Favorite sport to play (other than gymnastics)? Ice skating is fun!
4. As a self-proclaimed daredevil, is there anything that you’re too scared to attempt? Skydiving — I wouldn’t jump out of a plane, no way!
5. Favorite cheat day meal? A nice pizookie — like a pizza cookie with the ice cream on top.
What events are you most looking forward to at the next summer or winter Olympics? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.