By Anna Rose Johnson

We recently caught up with 2016 Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, who is preparing to return to full-time training in hopes of qualifying to the 2020 Olympic Games.

Feature Photo by Grace Chiu

Laurie Hernandez, who won a team gold and a beam silver in Rio, has officially selected her new gym, where she will train in the lead-up to Tokyo.

(Ricardo Bufolin)

“I’ve chosen to go to Gym-Max, and I’ve already started training there,” she says. “Jenny [Zhang] and Howie [Liang] are so kind, and really reinforce communication when I’m practicing. They’re very open-minded, and that’s why I picked them!” Located in Costa Mesa, California, Gym-Max is the former home of 2012 Olympic Champion Kyla Ross, among other top elite gymnasts.

Following the Rio Olympics, Hernandez enjoyed a whirlwind of opportunities—and garnered a few new accolades as well. From winning Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars to publishing two books while promoting charities, making TV appearances, and  much more, it’s been a busy two years for the 18-year-old. But Hernandez is ready to refocus on gymnastics as she gears up for the next Olympics.

“I am SO excited to work with my new coaches,” she tells us. “I’m very passionate about the sport, and they really have my back with the dreams I still have planned for myself.”

Hernandez’s goals for 2019 “would be to feel comfortable competing in [the U.S.] Championships, and hopefully make the 2019 World team,” she says. “[Stuttgart 2019 is] definitely a big goal for me. For 2020, my eyes are set for Tokyo!”

Currently, Hernandez is not yet working on new floor choreography, but she does plan to debut a new routine for the 2019 season. “I’m not sure yet [when I’ll return to national team camp], but I’ll only go once we feel ready!” she elaborates. “So far [in training], I’ve gotten up to layouts on vault, aerials and some leaps for beam, and basics everywhere else.”

When she initially considered making a comeback, Hernandez expressed interest in becoming an event specialist, but her mindset has shifted. “Originally I had my heart set on two events,” she recalls. “However, Jenny reminded me that it couldn’t hurt to try all-around.”

In other news, Hernandez’s new picture book was released last week. “My new children’s book is called She’s Got This!It’s loosely based on my gymnastics story,” she explains. “The main character, Zoe (my middle name), decides to try gymnastics. When she falls off the beam and hurts her knee, she wants to quit. [But] her family is there to support her and remind her to keep trying!”

Hernandez says that she’s excited to see everyone in the gymnastics community soon. “I have missed the sport and everyone in it,” she says. “I’m happy to be back and see where this journey takes me!”



Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: