Interview with Olympic All Around Champion and NBC Sports Commentator Nastia Liukin
Anastasia “Nastia” Liukin was born in Moscow, Russia and raised in Parker, Texas, Nastia Liukin was named the 2008 Olympic all-around champion, and won the title of World Champion in both the 2005 and 2007 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships for her artistry on the balance beam.
Nastia has won nine world medals (four gold and five silver), which ties the mark of nine world medals held by Shannon Miller. She was a member of the 2007 World Championships that won the team gold medal, which was the U.S. women’s second world team title in U.S. history.
At the 2008 Olympic Games, Nastia tied the U.S. gymnastics record of five medals at one Olympic Games set by Mary Lou Retton in 1984 and matched by Shannon Miller in 1992. Nastia’s Olympic medal haul includes one gold (all-around), three silver (team, balance beam and uneven bars) and one bronze (floor exercise). She garnered the most medals of any gymnast at the 2008 Olympic Games. She in one of only four American women to win the all-around Olympic gold: Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson, Nastia Lukin and this summer’s champion Gabby Douglas.
MSNBC named Nastia the 2nd most marketable athlete around the same time that she appeared in Glamour Magazine as one of “The 11 greatest bodies on Earth.” Nastia received such honors as the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Individual Sportswoman of the Year”, the United States Sports Academy’s “Female Athlete of the Year”, USA Gymnastics’ Sportswoman of the Year in 2008 and “Best Female Athlete” at the 2009 ESPY Awards.
Nastia retired from competition after the Beijing Olympics but continued to support Team USA by becoming the athlete’s rep for USA Gymnastics. She remains an Ambassador for the sport by serving as an athlete representative for both the Federation of International Gymnastics and USA Gymnastics along with work as a television analyst for NBC.
This talented and effortless beauty is our fit, fabulous and fierce woman of the week! Meet the Nastia Liukin!
FG: Hi Nastia! Please tell how you got your start with gymnastic.
NL: Both of my parents were gymnast and my dad competed at the ’88 Olympic Games winning two gold and two silver medals. My mom was rhythmic gymnast and world champion. So I feel like I was kind of born into the sport. And I naturally developed a love and passion for it. My parents never pushed or forced me into doing it but I fell in love with it and never wanted to leave. I was born in Moscow. We moved over to the United States when I was about three years old and they opened up a gymnastic school. They have three schools now in the Dallas area. That’s kind of how I got my start in it. My dad was my coach during my entire career.
FG: That’s awesome. I know they are very proud of you. How nice.. you’re from Texas. We’re in Austin.
NL: I love Austin. And yes, I grew up in Texas. I’ve been in New York a little under two years.
FG: That’s nice to know. When did you know you were passionate about gymnastics?
NL: ….At a very early age. I think before I knew I loved it. Just knowing that I never wanted to leave the gym it was something that I could spend days and hours, all day long in there. But I guess it really happened when I was nine years old and I won the level six Texas State Championship and I think at that age I realized that I would love to do this but on greater and bigger scene, like the championship and the Olympic games. So it started when I was about nine years old and then a few years later when I was twelve years old, I made the junior national team and that’s when things seemed to rapidly progress.
FG: What did your training typically consist of?
NL: When I was competing, my training was pretty much the same all year round. I trained seven hours a day, six days a week and most of that was gymnastics on the equipment, but some of it was strength and flexibility and I also ran a few miles every day. But now that I’m not doing gymnastic, I still try to work out on a consistent basis, whether it’s running, yoga, Pilates, cycling or a boot class camp from time to time. I really try to mix it up a little bit because I tend to get tired of doing the same thing every day. And I think it’s important for your body to mix it up a little bit too.
FG: Variety is great! What’s your favorite workout of the month?
NL: I love Pilates on the reformers, not so much on the mat. After so many years of pounding and tension on my body, Pilates is a great way to workout and not cause any undue stress on my body. It’s a super workout and it makes those muscles long and lean.
FG: Would you say there are similarities between Pilates and gymnastics?
NL: Yes, I definitely do. I think also for me, I didn’t do weight training while I was training. It was all about our own body weight. I think that’s what I love about Pilates, it’s the same thing, you’re not using any weights- it’s more resistance. You can always change the resistance to make it easier or harder.
FG: I enjoy it for those reasons too!
FG: What does your diet consist of?
NL: Growing up, even when I was training breakfast was really hard for me to eat because I had to flip around so early in the morning. But as we know, it’s also the most important meal of the day to get your body going. It was especially important for me when I was competiting to have the energy to get through a four hour training. So I would always eat something pretty light for breakfast which also gave me enough energy to get through the day. These days, I love to eat scrambled egg whites with some spinach and avocado. That’s my go-to breakfast. And for lunch, I love salads with tons of different vegetables. I like to add protein, whether it be salmon or grilled chicken. For dinner, it’s kind of the same thing. I love fish, so I’ll have a piece of fish or sushi. I try to maintain a clean diet and avoid packaged things-making sure to eat more greens and fruit.
FG: How do you keep yourself motivated?
NL: I always try to set goals for myself and enjoy having something “goal-inspiring” going on in my life. Like getting inducted into the Gymnatics Hall of Fame a weeks ago.
FG: That’s awesome. Congratulations!
NL: Thank you! So just knowing I have an event coming up that I want to feel and look my best for, keeps me on track and keeps me motivated. Other than that, you just have to listen to your body. Some days you can’t push your body to those extremes. Some days I do something a little less strenuous , versus doing nothing at all. It’s important to keep your body moving by doing something and it doesn’t always have to be so rigorous.
FG: What do you do in your downtime? How do you unwind?
NL: Lately, I haven’t had a lot of free time but when I do, I enjoy spending time with my family, laying out by the pool and read a good book or even taking a yoga class helps me to unwind. Obviously, vacations are nice, but with a busy schedule that’s not always possible, so I’ve learned to improvise and make the best of my free time.
FG: What’s next for Nastia?
NL: Right now I’m a full-time student, majoring in Sports Management at NYU and I’m about halfway done. I’m also commentating for NBC for gymnastics. In two weeks NBC will be covering the national championships, so please tune in and watch. I’m excited about the Nastia Foundation. We have competitions and events, qualifiers will compete next March at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas.
FG: That’s wonderful! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. We wish you the the best. Congratulations again on all of your amazing accomplishments.
Follow Nastia for more updates on www.NastiaLuikin.com