Gabby Douglas Is Back – And At Peace

Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

Gabby Douglas is back in action and genuinely happy to be. The 28-year-old, the first Black gymnast to become the Olympic individual all-around champion, is returning to her happy place to compete in the Olympics in Paris this summer after forgoing competing for the Tokyo Games. She’s training up to eight hours daily, which her body can still handle. But the gold medalist admits her feet go through a lot.

“Everything a gymnast does impacts our feet,” she tells ESSENCE. I’ve used so much chalk over the years, which removes moisture from my feet. Hard landings cause bruising and swelling, and turning in certain moves leaves the skin hardening on the bottom of my feet.”

Knowing that wear on her feet, Douglas has partnered with Dr. Scholl’s and has been introduced to their line of foot care products, including their skin care options, which include foot masks, heel balms, creams, and more. It’s allowed her feet to heal fast from all those jumps, twists, turns, and hard landings.

“I always use Dr. Scholl’s Callus Remover Electronic Foot File to get rid of any rough skin that pops up, and then I’ll make sure to rub on some of the Ultra-Hydrating Foot Cream to bring back that moisture that the chalk takes away,” she shares. “A proper foot care routine is truly essential to me and I find that when I’m consistent and use quality products, like those from Dr. Scholl’s, my feet don’t feel that they’ve taken a beating.”

Gabby Douglas Is Back – And At Peace
Dr. Scholl’s®

Douglas is returning to the spotlight after taking a few years off from gymnastics. During that time, she started working on a farm with her family (“I know, Gabby Douglas on a tractor?”), traveled, and concentrated on self-care.

“I was able to really focus on myself, relax, enjoy times with friends and family, and decide what I wanted to do from here,” she says. Choosing to return was about getting back to the sport she’s loved since childhood and possibly closing out her storied career on a positive note.

“Gymnastics has always been a part of who I am, and though these years of rest have been essential, getting back into my practice routine made me realize how much I truly missed competing,” she shares. “From there, I knew it was time to take on my next big challenge – competing for a spot in the 2024 Olympics.”

Of course, Douglas is not new to being on the world stage. She’s faced the highest of highs and experienced the downsides of that attention, including commentary about everything from her performances to her sportsmanship and hair. This time around, she’s ready for whatever may come because she’s concentrating on her love of the sport and the support she has from people who truly know her.

“During my time off, I focused on finding ways to protect my mental health and make sure that I’m able to bring those practices with me in everyday life,” she says. I found that it’s important to block out any negativity and focus on those who love and support you.”

While making it to Paris this summer is certainly the goal, she also has her sights set on the future. She mentions learning who Gabby Douglas is outside of gymnastics and her hopes to continue uplifting others.

“I’ve been able to use my platform to speak and share my journey with the hopes of inspiring and motivating others,” says Douglas. “I’d love to grow my platform so I can expand on this and be that person who inspires others to never give up on themselves or their dreams despite obstacles that may try to stand in their way.”

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