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.
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Aly Raisman attends the 2019 A+E Upfront at Jazz at Lincoln Center on March 27, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
American gymnast Alexandra Raisman stands for a photograph after an Apple Inc. event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Monday, March. 25, 2019. The company unveiled streaming video and news subscriptions, key parts of Apple's push to transform itself into a leading digital services provider. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02: Aly Raisman attends Sports Illustrated Saturday Night Lights powered by Matthew Gavin Enterprises and Talent Resources Sports on February 2, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: Role Model Aly Raisman attends as Aerie celebrates #AerieREAL Role Models in NYC on January 31, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Aerie)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 5: Gymnast Aly Raisman speaks at The Massachusetts Conference For Women at the Boston Convention Center on Dec. 5, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Aly Raisman arrives at E! People's Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on November 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Aly Raisman attends the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund 15th Anniversary Event at Brooklyn Navy Yard on November 5, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Aly Raisman and Hoda Kotb on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 16: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman speaks on the issue of sexual abuse at the headquarters of Eastern Bank in Boston on Oct. 16, 2018. Raisman, 24, was part of a panel discussion that included Katelyn Brewer, chief executive of the nonprofit Darkness to Light, Eastern Bank chairman and chief executive Bob Rivers, and Shirley Leung, interim editorial page editor of The Boston Globe. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: The fearless women of Olay's 'Face Anything' New York Fashion Week Make-Up Free Runway Show on September 13, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Olay)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Aly Raisman arrives to 'A Simple Favor' premiere at Museum of Modern Art on September 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Aly Raisman and Gigi Hadid pose backstage at the Brandon Maxwell show during New York Fashion Week at Classic Car Club on September 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NATICK, MA - AUGUST 18: Laura Chan, Gold-Medalist Aly Raisman and Brenna Huckaby speak at Pin Aerie's Real Talk At Natick Mall on August 18, 2018 in Natick, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for AERIE)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 18: Olympian gymnast Aly Raisman attends The 2018 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
THE 2018 ESPYS - This Wednesday, the worlds best athletes and biggest stars will join host Danica Patrick for 'The 2018 ESPYS Presented by Capital One' on ABC. The star-studded evening celebrates the best moments from the year in sports and will air live on ABC, July 18 from 8:00-11:00 p.m. EDT, from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Image Group LA via Getty Images)
THE ARTHUR ASHE AWARD FOR COURAGE RECIPIENTS, SARAH KLEIN, TIFFANY THOMAS LOPEZ, ALY RAISMAN
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 17: Aly Raisman attends Heroes at the ESPYS at City Market Social House on July 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/05/06: Aly Raisman, World Champion gymnast and activist, at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: American gymnast and two-time Olympian Aly Raisman (C) participates in a mass yoga class in ManhattanÕs Times Square to celebrate the summer solstice and mark World Yoga Day, June 21, 2018 in New York City. Around the world, people are celebrating the summer and winter solstices, which mark the longest and shortest days of the year. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Rachael Denhollander and Aly Raisman attend the 2018 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 24, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
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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:
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LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wiber and Alexandra Raisman arrive at 2012 MTV Video Awards at Staples Center on September 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
McKayla Maroney of the U.S. celebrates with her silver medal in the women's vault victory ceremony in the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT GYMNASTICS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 23: Olympic gold-medal gymnast Aly Raisman arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Bachelorette' at the Arclight Hollywood on August 23, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Wear whatever makes you feel happy and confident. Don't EVER let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn't dress. We are all entitled to wear what we want. Females do not have to dress modest to be respected. Be proud of your body. It's never about the number on the scale it's about the way you feel. You are all unique and beautiful in your own way. No one is perfect. AND no matter who you are, male or female, we all have those days of insecurity. We are all human. Everyone's story is important. EVERYONE. You never know what someone is going through. Thank you all for continuing to inspire me each and everyday. Spread the love guys and enjoy your Monday 💗✨👙#IGotItFromMyMomma #GIRLPOWER
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: US Gymnastics Team gold medalist Gabby Douglas lights The Empire State Building on August 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
snatched by @saishabeecham
Kyla Ross of the U.S. gestures after competing in the balance beam during the women's gymnastics qualification in the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT GYMNASTICS)
Pretending like I'm on summer break😅
Jordyn Wieber of the U.S. competes in the women's gymnastics floor exercise final in the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 7, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT GYMNASTICS)
sporty spice 💙☀️🌊
BEIJING - AUGUST 13: (L-R) Alicia Sacramone, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Samantha Peszek, Chellsie Memmel and Bridget Sloan of the United States pose together with their silver medals in the NBC Today Show Studio after placing second in the Women's Gymnastics team event at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 13, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)
Silver medallist Shawn Johnson of the U.S. poses with her medal after the women's individual all-round gymnastics final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake (CHINA)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Olympic Gymnast Shawn Johnson attends the 25th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Academy Awards Viewing Party at The City of West Hollywood Park on February 26, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Nothing but love. 💙
Gold medallist US gymnast Bridget Sloan poses for photographs after winning the women's individual all-around final during the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships 2009 at the 02 Arena, in east London, on October 16, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Adrian Dennis (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
#tbt to @dodgers games with these babes supporting @la2024 💕 @samanthapeszek @alanathejane @jordyn_wieber #FollowTheSun ☀️
Samantha Peszek is a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Womens Gymnastics team. (Photo by USOC/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
Wild child ✔️
BEIJING - AUGUST 13: Alicia Sacramone of the United States reacts during the artistic gymnastics team event at the National Indoor Stadium during Day 5 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 13, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
#tbt to graduating college with soft smiles and frizzy hair....take us back right meow @shelby_davidson
My mini and me 👩👧😍
Nastia Liukin of the U.S. holds her gold medal on the podium after winning the women's individual all-around artistic gymnastics final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake (CHINA)
NEW YORK CITY! Our next #BeGrander event is coming soon to YOU! Click the link in my bio to register for our #BeGrander event on June 17th 💃🏼💫 Can't wait to hang out, do some gymnastics, and take lots of selfies together 💁🏼💋 @begrander #BeGrander
Chellsie Memmel is a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Womens Gymnastics team. (Photo by USOC/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)