At just 24 years old, gymnast and activist Aly Raisman has become a household name. From bringing home Olympic medals from both the 2012 London and 2016 Rio games to appearing in body-positive ad campaigns and most notably speaking out publicly last year against disgraced USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar, Raisman has proved time and time again that she is more than willing to give a voice to causes that she is passionate about.
Today it was announced that Raisman's latest passion project is teaming up with Olay for the brand’s new Sun campaign. AOL's Julia Webb caught up with the world-class athlete (and class act) over the phone to chat everything from sun protection to meditation and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Read their entire conversation below and watch Olay's new campaign video featuring Raisman here.
AOL: So tell me a little bit about your new campaign with Olay.
Aly Raisman: So I started working with Olay this past summer and obviously it's been a huge dream of mine to work with Olay. It's like that brand that everyone's mom and grandmother uses -- my grandmother used it before she passed away and my mom still uses it now -- so it's very special to me, because it reminds me of family.
When I was younger my friends used to put tanning oil on and they would go to the tanning beds and everything, and you know it was unfortunately the 'cool thing' to do when you’re younger. My mom would never let me use tanning oil or go to the tanning beds, and when I was younger I was kind of annoyed, and I didn’t understand why she would always make sure I was using sunscreen and reapplying. Now when I look back, I’m so grateful my mom did that and taught me that valuable lesson. I use SPF even in the winter even if I'm just going for a drive somewhere, because it's so important. [SPF is a] part of my everyday routine and of course when I was training. Being an athlete, routine is really important, but now that my schedule is so busy and different where I'm traveling all over and speaking about different topics, routine is so important because when you’re not home you want to feel that sense of comfort, and having that routine every day is self care and SPF is a part of my self care routine.
Editor's note: Raisman counts Olay Sun Face Sunscreen + Shine Control as her favorite product
I love that self care is so important to you. What are some other things that you do every day that are just for you?
I think self care is definitely not 'one size fits all.' But I'm doing a meditation every single day, which has been really, really helpful for me. I try to do it whenever I can whether I'm on the airplane, before bed, I try to do it in the mornings and then I started to do just a 10 to 15 minute yoga session on YouTube in my house and that has really helped my breathing and anxiety.
I also write in a journal too -- I keep a gratitude journal. So I try to do as many things as I can to help myself, and I'm actually on my way to therapy right now. I think talking to somebody is really important and helps me a lot -- and if you’re not comfortable with talking to somebody I think that's where the journal is really helpful as well.
You mentioned that your schedule involves a ton of travel and time on airplanes. What would you say are some of your travel essentials?
That's a good question. Headphones, sunscreen, because I really do use it all the time even when I'm on the airplane, my phone, and I'm proud to say that the most I use my phone now is for a meditation app, which I think is really important --I'm trying to limit social media -- a snack, whether it's a granola bar or something like that, and essential oils. I sometimes use peppermint or lavender when I'm traveling to stay calm. I'm obsessed with them!
Do you have any exciting summer plans or travel coming up?
I love summer and actually my family has a house in Cape Cod, so I'm just excited to be there with my family. And I’ve been really lucky the last couple of months, I feel like I’ve met so many new friends that are really amazing people, so I'm really excited to get to know them more. Since 2019 started, I just feel very open to new friendships and new experiences, so I'm looking forward to connecting with new people and stuff like that.
And I have to ask -- can we expect to see you at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020?
Right now I'm not training. I'm focusing on taking care of myself and also just focusing on the advocacy stuff that I'm passionate about. I think it's really important to focus on what makes each us happy and right now I think that this is the best path for me.
So I'm working out just a little bit. I'm really working on self care and taking care of myself. The years leading up to the Olympics are extremely exhausting and the year after [the 2016 Rio games] I was so lucky to have so many amazing opportunities. I was also processing everything that was happening to me kind of behind the scenes that wasn’t public yet, and then of course last year speaking out really took a toll on me. I'm so appreciative for all of the support, but it was so mentally, emotionally and physically draining that there were some days I could barely even walk up the stairs, because I was so tired and just so drained.
I'm finally feeling so much better, so I'm just working on continuing that and really taking care of myself, because if I don’t take care of myself then I can’t be the best version of myself and help other people.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
See more Olympic gymnasts below: