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31 Secrets Competitive Gymnasts Will Never Tell You

"No matter how long you've been at it, doing the balance beam will always be terrifying."

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We asked current and former gymnasts to share things about their sport that most people on the outside wouldn't know or expect. Here's what they had to say:

1. Not all of us want to go to the Olympics.

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Some of us just like doing gymnastics, okay?!

2. There's nothing worse than feeling a wedgie on the floor and not being able to pick it.

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That's right, there's a deduction. You don't know true discipline until you get a major wedgie in the middle of a routine and can't even acknowledge it.

3. It's actually pretty common to pee a little when you tumble.

4. No matter how long you've been at it, doing the balance beam will always be terrifying.

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That's why they call it the great equalizer.

5. The pressure to be small and slim and have the perfect gymnast body type is so high.

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6. And you truly never get over being self-conscious about wearing a leotard in front of so many people.

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7. You have to stick to an incredibly strict diet of protein, veggies, and tbh, very little carbs.

Most of your meals are made for you so you don't ever have too much of a decision over what you're eating.

8. You're not even supposed to drink sports drinks because they have "too much sugar."

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Basically you're expected to drink water, water, and more water.

9. But that doesn't mean you don't sneak candy every chance that you get.

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10. Coaches can be really nice or really terrible for your self-esteem.

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There's lots of getting yelled at. And lots of being told to look a certain way, hold yourself a certain way, and be a certain way.

11. So you had to develop tough skin and learn not to cry at an early age.

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12. You live and die by the chalk and your grips.

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13. And being upside down actually feels completely normal.

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14. You often work through pain, even when you think you're hurt.

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15. The constant cuts, bruises, and blisters will get you stares from people.

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16. But even though people think our hands are gross, we wear our calluses like badges of honor.

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17. Having stunted growth is not a myth.

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Being 5'1" might make you feel like an actual giant.

18. And neither is getting a delayed period.

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Don't be surprised if you don't get it until long after you've quit.

19. Ice isn't just nice, it's your best friend.

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Got an injury? Ice it. Feeling sore? Take an ice bath. Ice, ice, ice all the time, baby.

20. And so is Preparation H.

Hemorrhoids? Nah, it's for those disgusting rips (on your palms, wrists, etc.) you get at the end of a long day of training.

21. You get a deduction if your underwear or bra sticks out of your leotard.

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But briefs help a little.

22. But sometimes you roll the hips up on your leotard to show a little more leg.

23. Getting your hair caught under your hands is your worst nightmare.

Which is why so many gymnasts have short hair or wear it up as tight as possible.

24. You can tell when you're in the air if you're going to mess up your landing.

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Making it the longest five seconds of your life.

25. Yes, pretty much everyone is a perfectionist.

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Does gymnastics attract perfectionists or does it create them? Unclear.

26. Sometimes after competitions your hair stays in place after you take out your scrunchie or ponytail because you use SO. MUCH. hair gel.

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For lower-level meets, you have to use tons of gel, hairspray, braids, and clips so your hair doesn't budge.

27. Sometimes it feels like you're not really experiencing life because all you do is train.

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School and gym are life. You train six days a week for four hours a day and it's hard to see other people your age hanging out with friends and doing other normal things that you can't.

28. And you know you're going to have to suffer through a lot of annoying little injuries and pains later in life.

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All those sprains and hitting the balance beam are definitely going to catch up to you.

29. But your best friends and safety net are your teammates and fellow gymnasts.

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Sure, there's some competition, but most gymnasts are ~competing with themselves~.

30. And as tough as it is, you love gymnastics. And it's so hard to eventually leave behind.

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31. Because last but not least, gymnastics really is as awesome as it looks.

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Jumping, flipping, and literally flying? Yeah, it's fucking great.

Rock on, all you badass gymnasts!