Why this gymnastics coach refuses to talk to athletes about their bodies
When you’re an athlete, your body is kind of your job. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to compete or perform, which unfortunately means it can end up under a lot of scrutiny. When Casey Rohrbaugh was a gymnast at Penn State, she was particularly concerned about the body-shaming that allegedly came along with the program. She told People on Wednesday all about her philosophy when it comes to being a coach herself, and it’s pretty revolutionary
“I don’t talk to my young athletes about their bodies,” she explained. Casey is now at Hanover Gymnastics, coaching the top two levels of gymnasts (levels 9 and 10) before elite. She’s come face-to-face with the challenges of addressing bodies and fitness, but is sure to approach the subject without crossing over into shaming or judging.
“Gymnastics is dangerous,” she admitted. “If you gain a lot of weight, your flips aren’t going to be as high and you might land short or be under-rotated. But there’s a way to [address] it correctly.”
In Casey’s mind, the correct way to approach gymnasts’ bodies is to not talk about bodies at all. “I talk about nutrition,” she explained. “After practice, it’s good protein, lots of water. To me, it should be an education and part of the sport – learning how to fuel their bodies.”
After all, athletes should be proud of their bodies because it’s what got them where they are today. It’s an incredible machine, and Casey wants to focus on nourishing it rather than disciplining it.
She also thinks it’s important to acknowledge that in gymnastics, there isn’t one “right” kind of body. “If you’re doing your job and getting 9.9s, what can anyone say about it?” she said. Performance is what matters, not how the athletes look while doing it.
And if their performance is suffering?
“Set them up with the nutritionist … we have them for a reason,” Casey said. “That’s just being an athlete, that’s not body-shaming.”
As long as you’re doing what you love and taking care of your body, nothing else matters. We’re so happy Casey Rohrbaugh is reminding her athletes to be positive and healthy every day, and most importantly, encouraging them to be happy in their own skin.