I’m a pretty big gymnastics nerd. In the last 5 or 6 years I’ve fallen back on my nerdiness and have gotten pretty far behind in new gymnastics books. Recently getting back into reading I picked up Winning Balance: What I’ve Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams by Shawn Johnson (2008 Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist). I originally had started this book back in March of last year but didn’t get too far into it before getting sidetracked by other things.
Going into this book I had to remind myself of the books I used to love reading in gymnastics by Dominique Moceanu & Shannon Miller. These books are about the gymnasts career & there is a certain level of “bragging rights” that they have gained throughout their career. I also had to remind myself that this is not a book originally intended for adults, it definitely has the target market of young gymnasts wanting to learn more about their idol.
Winning Balance is a cute book that covers most of Shawn Johnson’s gymnastics career. She talks about the ups and downs of gymnastics as well as what it was like behind the scenes. I loved her commentary on trying to balance out her life and how she talks about each of her “crushes” as she goes about the book. Shawn makes the point, multiple times throughout the book, that her parents really had set the goal of keeping her regular life balanced with her gymnastics life. She talks about both her gymnastics friends and her school friends along with her boyfriends throughout the book.
One of my favorite parts was when she talked about the Bejing Olympics. While the rest of her teammates had left to go back to the United States (for various reasons), Shawn stayed through the rest of the Olympics and was able to enjoy some of the events & spend time with a member of the cycling team she had developed a crush on. I loved how she talks about the fact that she has been on her own for the last 5 weeks and suddenly was back under her parents supervision and what an adjustment it is. Gymnasts of her caliber are forced to grow up fast, it was nice to hear her side of it where she still got to have a little bit of her teenaged side.
The book ends as Shawn is in training for the 2012 Olympics, while readers don’t necessarily see it at the time, Shawn does wind up retiring before the 2012 Olympics. Her career, as outlined in this book, is one of the most successful careers of USA Gymnastics. She came home from the 2008 Olympics with three silver medals and a gold medal, not many have brought home that many medals from a single Olympics.
Shawn’s spunky spirit & ongoing internal battles with growing up make Winning Balance a good read and one that I think all teenagers who are in the higher levels of gymnastics should read. She tells the truth about what it is like growing up & what it is like once the sport is over. It’s a quick read and was worth the few hours it took!
This was my “book you started, but never finished” from the 2015 Pop Sugar Challenge! 5 Books down!