Olympic Gymnast's Stunning Nude Photo Shoot Isn't the Only Reason to Admire Her

aly raisman espnHave you seen ESPN's 2015 "Body Issue" covers yet? They're all so gorgeous we wouldn't blame you if you lost a few hours taking in all the photos and videos of these incredible strong bodies -- and not just because they're all nude. What's just as riveting is what athletes like gymnast Aly Raisman have to say about body image.

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Raisman is an Olympic medalist -- and a former contestant on Dancing with the Stars. And man is she strong. I'm completely awestruck watching her body in motion in the video. What is it like to have that body? Here, our favorite quotes from Raisman's interview with ESPN magazine. 

On what it's like to be so strong:

"You use every single part of your body" in gymnastics, Raisman tells ESPN. But it's not just so she can perform perfect balances and jumps. "Every part of your body has to be really strong in order to take a rough fall, which happens all the time in gymnastics," she explains. "We're always wiping out."

Even with that powerful body Raisman admits that learning to do "all these crazy skills" that you see gymnasts performing "can be a little terrifying," and that her coaches tell her she's chicken.

Raisman shares that she can do rope climbs with just her arms, holding a 10-pound weight between her legs. "You can always spot the gymnast," she tells the magazine. "They are so ripped and so strong." She loves racing against -- and beating -- guys "because they get so upset."

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On what it takes to train like an Olympian:

"I work out six days, 32 hours a week for the dream of competing at the Olympics again," Raisman tells ESPN of her workout routine. And it all culminates in a minute-and-a-half beam routine. She says she's always wiped out after her seven-hour workouts, but it's worth it. "I'm always eating healthy, always going to bed early," she shares. "Everything I put into my body is for the purpose of gymnastics."

"I'm not sure training seven hours a day is healthy," Raisman admits.

On being a perfectionist:

Raisman tells ESPN she should be proud of her accomplishments, but "I think more about the fact that I didn't medal in the [2012 Olympic] All-Around than the fact that I did really well." 

She holds her workouts to a high standard as well, noting in ESPN's video coverage of her shoot, "I feel like I have a really, really good workout once a month just because I'm such a perfectionist, so if I mess up one time on the beam then that's a horrible day." And that's not Raisman being overly critical of herself -- it's her awareness that even the most minor mistake in a competition could cost her a medal. 

On there being no such thing as "perfect":

Raisman is a perfectionist while training, but she doesn't believe there's a "perfect" physique for a gymnast. "I think that's why gymnastics is so great," she says. "Some gymnasts have bodies that are really, really thin and really flexible. I have more muscle to me." 

Eating disorders have plagued the sport of gymnastics in the past. But Raisman is proud to say, "I've never had an eating disorder." Not only that, she tells the magazine she's never seen the issue among her teammates, either.

Raisman believes "imperfection is beauty." She's learned to love her muscles instead of feeling insecure about them. "I don't even think of it as a flaw anymore, because it's made me into the athlete that I am," she notes.

Muscles -- a flaw? I hope our culture isn't so upside down in its worship of skinny that we can't see the beauty in a powerful body. Just speaking for myself, I find Raisman's strength is incredibly inspiring. 

Have you ever changed the way you see your own body? What do you think makes a body look beautiful?

 

Image via ESPN

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