5 Items Every Aspiring Gymnast Should Own, According to Katelyn Ohashi

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The Expert Edit features interviews with specialists about the products they swear by in their chosen field. For the latest installment, we spoke to Katelyn Ohashi, a former artistic gymnast who was an eight-time All-American and a four-time member of USA Gymnastics’ Junior National Team, about her gear recommendations for aspiring gymnasts and athletes looking to get back on the mat.

Katelyn Ohashi has redefined her relationship to gymnastics. After graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles and retiring from elite competition in 2019, she’s developed a new outlook on the sport she once felt defined by.

“I always used to laugh because basketball is a sport you can kind of play no matter where you are. You can see people play pickup just for fun wherever. Gymnastics was never like a sport you did for fun. And I feel like now there’s like so many different forms of gymnastics,” Ohashi tells PS. When she decided not to pursue the competitive route, Ohashi took some time off to focus on other disciplines, like parkour and tricking, while also developing non-physical skills, like poetry.

“Finding my happiest state in gymnastics was when I realized that it didn’t come from a place of receiving external affirmations and it didn’t matter about the medals,” Ohashi says. A part of that discovery? Exploring her relationship with body image, gymnastics, and mental health through the written word — something she’s brought to Athleta’s Gold Over America Tour, which highlights the athletic talent and championship journeys of gymnastic’s top athletes.

Unlike other post-Olympic tours that focus solely on Olympians, the Gold Over America tour, led by Simone Biles, focuses on the “superstars of gymnastics” from all levels, Ohashi explains. “It opened a lot of doors for girls that maybe being in the top 1 percent of gymnasts isn’t as tangible.” It also sends a message to aspiring gymnasts — and those who once competed on the elite level — that “there’s not one path to success,” Ohashi says. The competition also allowed Ohashi to fall in love with the sport again, from the standpoint of sheer enjoyment and performance.

“That’s what’s so cool about this show — you’ll see most gymnasts that you don’t get to see playing out there,” she says, “and I think that’s such a beautiful element of the sport.”

Ohashi continues: “For me, it’s really hard to replicate the the adrenaline and the love you have for gymnastics — I’ve never found anything in my life after that has given me the same like boost of endorphins of when I perform.” Being out there, and being able to compete for just herself, has been rewarding in a completely new way.

As she steps back out on the mat for this year’s Gold Over America Tour starting September 17, she brings a determination to share an important lesson with aspiring gymnasts: “that they don’t have to be the best or look like the person next to them or do the same skills as the person next to them and they can still find their own success.” In addition to this mindset, Ohashi also swears by a few must-have products for a successful day on mat — from headphones and slides to water bottles and baby wipes (more on that below!).

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