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Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 21 July 2014 20:31    PDF Print
Former Gymnast Flips Back into Shape on 'Extreme Weight Loss'
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Former gymnast Georgeanna Johnson experienced the transformation of a lifetime over the past year, and her story will air Tuesday night during ABC's hit show "Extreme Weight Loss."

Each episode of "Extreme Weight Loss" features a full year in the life of someone determined to shed pounds while gaining a healthy new lifestyle. Tuesday's episode follows Johnson, who was chosen among thousands of applicants to work with celebrity trainer Chris Powell and his wife, Heidi.


Johnson in 2013 with celebrity trainers Chris and Heidi Powell

Johnson's lifetime love of gymnastics features prominently into Tuesday's episode, as she was able to return to the mats to tumble again with encouragement from Olympic champions Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller and Mary Lou Retton.

Johnson competed for Southern Kentucky Gymnastics in Bowling Green in her youth and later coached at Logan County Gymnastics in Russellville, Ky., when her daughters were young.

"My gymnastics 'career' was a big part of my childhood," she told IG. "I am 5'7", so I was never going to be a high-level gymnast, but I just had a love for the sport. I spent many hours in the gym with friends, went to camps and competitions. I may never have been a super star gymnast, but like so many young girls, it was important to me. It gave me confidence, and I feel like the flexibility and agility I gained from it helped me so much this year as I tried to regain my inner athlete."

Through the show, she was able to get back in the gym and once again experience the thrill of being a gymnast.

"Doing gymnastics again was so fun!" she said. "I had no idea what to expect and if, at 44, I could really make a go at learning my back handspring again. But, as I began with the basics, I realized I had some muscle memory and the movements began to feel natural. My body may have been heavier and older, but I loved feeling the familiar feeling of pushing into a backbend, doing cartwheels, being spotted on back handsprings."

The year-long process for "Extreme Weight Loss" is divided into four three-month phases, each of which includes a weight-loss goal set by Powell.

"Mentally, Phase One was the hardest," Johnson said. "We went to 'boot camp' for three months this year for Phase One, so being away from home was very difficult. I had never been away from my husband or daughters for any extended period of time, so being away was emotionally draining. And physically exhausting. I went from never working out to working out four to five hours a day. I missed my family terribly during that time."

After the mental stress of Phase One, Phase Two was physically the most demanding for Johnson, she said.

"I came home for Phase Two, and that is when I began training for my six-month milestone, a gymnastics 'meet,'" she explained. "So each day I had a two-hour workout with my trainer, an hour of cardio, and training with my gymnastics coach and some days meeting with my choreographer. So, it was very physically taxing for me. I wanted my routines to be good, and I wanted to complete the skills I had been working on, so I was really pushing myself. It was worth it, though. I had such a great time at the milestone with all the Olympic gymnasts there."

The experience was such a life-changing event that Johnson said she now wants to focus on paying it forward and helping others. "I have had such a wonderful experience, and feel so much better about myself, that I want others to get motivated to make changes too," she said. "I am launching a website, fitiswell.com, the night the show airs. Even though I have lost weight, staying healthy will be a lifelong journey, so I really am looking forward to sharing my journey with others, with insight about the show, recipes, exercise and diet tips. I even have a free e-book outlining the three big diet changes I made to succeed."

The support of the Powells as coaches was "invaluable" through it all, Johnson said.

"Working with Chris and Heidi incredible," Johnson said. "They are as nice as they seem on TV! They are truly friends and having their support makes a huge difference. Chris and Heidi could believe in me when I still had doubts and didn't know if I could succeed. They want the best for each of us, and push us to become better. They will be lifelong friends."

External Link: Georgeanna Johnson Official Facebook Page

 
Written by John Crumlish    Thursday, 17 July 2014 09:21    PDF Print
Keatings on Commonwealth Games: 'There Is Definitely High Motivation'
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

British Olympian and world championships all-around silver medalist Daniel Keatings told IG that representing his native Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this month offers him a challenge comparable to the sport’s most prestigious competitions.

“I think the pressure is just the same as a world championships or an Olympics,” said Keatings, who trains at Huntington Olympic Gymnastics Club in England. “You are in the spotlight and there is an expectation and a hope, particularly this time with a home crowd, that you do well. In terms of motivation, as the event comes around only every four years and it’s my only chance to represent Scotland, it will be quite special and something I will be very proud to do. So there is definitely high motivation there.”

Keatings, who finished 20th all-around at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and second all-around at the 2009 world championships in London, said the Scottish team is looking strong in the final approach to the Games, which will begin July 23. Team members are working out at the British national team training center in Lilleshall, England.

“Training’s being going well,” Keatings said. “It helps that all of the British boys have been raining together at Lilleshall, even though we compete for different home nations, so we can keep pushing each other on and keep the intensity high.”

Keatings’ Scottish teammates in Glasgow will include Daniel Purvis, a top-seven all-around finisher at the past three worlds and a member of the bronze medal-winning British team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London; Frank Baines, the 2012 European junior all-around champion; Adam Cox, the 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist on high bar; and Liam Davie.

The Scottish women’s team for the Games: Cara Kennedy, Erin McLachlan, Amy Regan, Carly Smith and Emma White.

Keatings, the 2010 and 2013 European champion on pommel horse, said he plans to perform a pommel horse routine with a 7.2 Difficulty note in Glasgow. He is optimistic for team and individual success at the Games.

“Team Scotland has never won a team medal, so that’s a huge goal for all of us and something I think we are capable of,” he told IG. “Personally I’m aiming for the top five in the all-around and to medal on pommel and parallel bars.”

International Gymnast magazine related coverage:

Daniel Keatings interview and center poster (June 2009)

"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)

"Pure Purvis" –Purvis interview (March 2012)

"Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" – cover story on British national program, Purvis cover photo (November 2011)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 15 July 2014 10:17    PDF Print
Commonwealth Comeback Pace Surprises Australia's Miller
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this month, 2012 Australian Olympian Larrissa Miller told IG she surprised herself by earning a berth to the Games after a strong showing at the Australian championships in May.

“I felt like everything just came together in the last month or two leading up to nationals,” said Miller, who turned 22 on July 12. “But if you had told me six months ago that I would be on the Commonwealth Games team, I would have called you crazy!”

Miller, who resumed training last November, won her first Australian national title when she placed first on uneven bars at the Australian championships in late May. She is training full-time at Waverley Gymnastics Centre in suburban Melbourne, where she lives with her sister and her sister’s family.

“At the moment I'm not studying or working, because I had such a short time frame between moving to Melbourne and Commonwealth Games trials,” Miller said. “Gymnastics is my main priority so I wanted to put all my time and energy into training, and not have to worry about other commitments. I train twice most days — morning and afternoon — and usually come home and rest or baby-sit my nephews between sessions. Supporting myself financially has been and will be one of my biggest challenges moving forward, now that I am out on my own.”

Miller said managing in the real world is a transition that, despite its occasional obstacles, is making her more self-reliant.

“I didn't realize how dependent I was on my mum!” Miller said. “I really miss my parents, but I'm also enjoying being more independent. I have never been much of a cook, but I'm having fun experimenting with new things, and I'm definitely better than I used to be. I can't say that I'm good, but I'm getting there. I feel like I'm learning a lot about a lot of different things, which I like. It's nice to know that I can do things for myself, but if I'm ever in doubt, my mum and dad are just a phone call away.”

Miller said she is not limiting the extent of her thus-far successful comeback in the sport.

“There are still so many things that I would like to try in gymnastics,” she told IG. “Some things may work out for me and other things may not. I really believe that I can do more. I love discovering what I am capable of and pushing my limits. So that's what I'm going to do — just keep pushing and see where it takes me.”

Note: IG’s Australian subscribers can read the full interview with Miller in the Australian digital supplement to the July/August 2014 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of Australian gymnasts includes:

Alysha Djuric profile (July/August 2014)

“The Lowdown from Liddick” – comments from Australian team coach Peggy Liddick (June 2014)

“Catching up with Allana Slater” – profile (April 2014)

Georgia Godwin cover photo (March 2014)

"10 Questions with Naoya Tsukahara" - interview (September 2013)

"Aussie Long Shot" - Daria Joura profile (July/August 2012)

"10 Questions with Olivia Vivian" - interview (March 2011)

"Golden Surprise" - Lauren Mitchell cover story (January/February 2011)

Coach Peggy Liddick interview (January/February 2011)

"Late Bloomer" - Amelia McGrath profile (October 2010)

Lisa Skinner chat (September 2010)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 08 July 2014 09:20    PDF Print
Morgan Eager to Put 'Best Foot Forward' in Glasgow
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Gymnastics Canada’s male artistic gymnastics Athlete of the Year and 2013 world floor exercise finalist Scott Morgan told IG that he and his teammates are optimistically making their final preparations for the Commonwealth Games later this month in Glasgow.

“After an intensive training camp, my coach and I are very excited to be named members of this year’s team,” said Morgan, who finished first on floor exercise, first on vault and second on rings at the Canadian championships in Ottawa in May. “At the moment, getting healthy is our number-one concern. A couple other team members and I are battling a few small injures but are focusing on training smart and polishing up our routines, so we can put our best foot forward when we arrive in Scotland.”

Also named to the Canadian men’s team for the Games were two-time Olympian Nathan Gafuik, Anderson Loran, Kevin Lytwyn and Zachary Clay.

The Canadian women’s team for Glasgow includes Olympians Ellie Black and Victoria Moors, Maegan Chant, Isabela Onyshko and Stefanie Merkle.

Morgan said the men’s artistic gymnastics Athlete of the Year award he received at the Gymnastics Canada ceremony in Ottawa last month has also motivated him for this fall’s world championships in Nanning.

“It was a great feeling knowing I have Gymnastics Canada's support,” said Morgan, who trains under coach Valentin Stan at Flicka Gymnastics in North Vancouver, B.C. “This was an award my coach and I were always striving towards, and has certainly given us confidence in our abilities to clinch a spot on this year’s worlds team.”

Read profiles an interview with 2014 Canadian men’s all-around champion Robert Watson, a chat with 2014 Canadian women’s all-around champion Ellie Black, and a profile on 2014 Canadian women’s all-around silver medalist Isabela Onyshko, in the July 2014 issue of International Gymnast magazine.

Other International Gymnast magazine related features include:

"Making Tracks" - Scott Morgan profile (December 2013)

Nathan Gafuik interview (July/August 2010)

"Canadian Diversity" - Ellie Black profile (July/August 2013)

"Black to Business" - Ellie Black interview (November 2012)

"Aiming to Top the Charts" - Maegan Chant interview (October 2013)

"Sudden Impact" - Victoria Moors interview (January/February 2013)

Victoria Moors on cover photo collage (March 2011)

To subscribe to the digital and/or print editions of International Gymnast magazine, or order back issues, click here.

 
Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 30 June 2014 18:37    PDF Print
Despite Back Injury, Bull Braces for 'Next Journey'
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although Australian gymnast Jayden Bull is disappointed that a back injury will keep him out of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, he told IG he intends to use his recovery period to heal and refocus.


Jayden Bull (Australia)

"This was a really tough blow to take following approximately 12 months of rehab for other injuries, and missing out on other opportunities in the past because of injuries, as well," Bull said. "But it's still quite fresh, and once my mind has cleared a bit more, it'll make it easier to make a judgment about where I'm at and mentally prepare for the next journey."

Bull, who finished second on floor exercise and fifth on high bar at the Australian Championships in late May, was diagnosed with two stress fractures on his L4 vertebra at a Commonwealth Games team training camp in Canberra following the championships.

"I can't pinpoint a particular time when it may have happened, but rather something that’s gotten worse over time," Bull said of the injury. "I was definitely its sorest at nationals, though. I've been given a time period of eight weeks with no extension or loading of my back, so no running, jumping or swinging."

The 24-year-old Bull said his injury will impact his preparations for the world championships in October in Nanning, but he plans to use his hiatus wisely.

"It affects my worlds chances pretty substantially since the only things I'll be doing for about eight weeks are strength, rehab and low-impact fitness to try and stay in shape," Bull said. "So I guess it gives me a good chance to get stronger in areas I want to improve and use the time to my advantage."

Despite his injury and injuries to other teammate, Bull said he is optimistic that defending-champion Australia can challenge for the team title in Glasgow, where the event begins July 23.

Australia placed first, ahead of silver medalist England and bronze medalist Canada, at the 2010 Games in Delhi. England and the other U.K. nations compete as individual countries at Commonwealth Games.

"This year’s Games prove to be especially tough," Bull told IG. "The Brits are looking especially good coming off the Olympics and Euros success. The Canadians are a super experienced and talented team. The Aussies have been hit by injuries pretty hard especially, with Luke Wiwatowski, one of our best all-rounders, ruled out, as well. But I think being somewhat the underdogs will work to our advantage, and our rather inexperienced team can hopefully produce some great performances."

 


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