If you haven’t heard of US gymnast Jenny Hansen, you should have. She is a former collegiate gymnastics star who is still in training at. Her career at the University of Kentucky was nothing less that astonishing. She won three straight national all around titles and eight NCAA Championship titles in full. Jenny now works as a stunt double and, as if that isn’t enough on her plate, Jenny has also returned to elite level gymnastics in a bid to make the US National team and to go even further- perhaps to the Olympics! She trains at UCLA in California and works on the gymnastics television show, Make It or Break It. She has been competing in qualification meets as part of her attempt to make the National team. We caught up with Jenny recently.
You competed in a meet recently-first for 2012?- how was that?
Going into the meet I felt ready and pumped to compete. Beam warm-up was great and went better than what I was doing in workout then I went to vault and I ended up tweaking my right knee when I landed.
How is a place on the National team looking for you right now, do you think?
I think it looks good! I’m confident in my skills and my training, I’m doing what I can to stay healthy and my coaching has been wonderful. Randy Lane, my coach, knows how to push me and when to tell me to relax.
Can you tell us what a typical day is like for Jen Hansen?
Ha Ha there is no typical day for Jen Hansen. The only thing that is typical for me is I wake up at 5:30am and go to bed at 9:30-10pm. I do so many different things every day, from training at UCLA 4 days a week to going to my KST (Koren Specific Technique) doctor, Dr. Willis, Applied Kinesiologist Dr. Gordon, Acupuncturist Dr. Ryf, or to my Holistic Healer Nancy Sacks.
Then I enjoy taking my room mate’s dogs for walks in the hills to get a relaxing workout also riding horses, beach time and stunt work.
A handful of collegiate gymnasts have gone on to do stunt work. What is it like and what is the most interesting thing you have had to do?
I’m a stunt woman who doubles for actresses when it may harm them or they are unable to do the action required for a scene. I couldn’t have asked for a better job than doing this right now on ABC Family’s – Make It or Break It. I look forward to working in the movie and TV industry more in the future. I would have to say the most interesting thing I have done is purposely crashing on a skill I trained to stick.
You are renowned as being an incredibly successful collegiate gymnast. What special qualities does it take for a collegiate gymnast to succeed, compared to an elite gymnast?
JUST HAVE FUN!!!! I was always smiling in college competition and I was confident in the skills that I was performing because I knew I did them over and over again since my days in club gymnastics. Therefore, I thought to myself – “why worry?!”
I took a different approach when I started back in Elite Level. I started off thinking initially, “I’ve got to stick, this is serious stuff!” But just started to realize it’s about the joy the sport brings to my heart when I learn a new skill or master an old skill with a new technique. I’m out there because I want to be there and I happen to have a huge support group to encourage me to press on toward a goal that a lot people wish they could, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so. So I hope I can inspire them to get out there and start having fun with the sport, it’s a wonderful form of exercise.
Given your age and the amount of physical exercise you have done, what measure do you have to take to protect yourself from injury training elite now?
In this sport injuries will happen regardless if you are physically strong or not. I’ve gone the Holistic route and take natural supplements to keep me internally strong as well as listening to what my body needs nutritionally. It’s hard to do that because 1. It’s expensive and 2. I really have to pay close attention to what fuels my body to be able to do everything. God has blessed me with an amazing talent and with success there are always failures. But I try to keep his purpose for me in the forefront of my mind to overcome those small failures or bumps in the road. I have a lot of people praying for me to have a safe journey and this is what helps me stay mentally strong.
You say you really want to give back to this sport. What do you think gymnastics had given you/gives other gymnasts that is unique and special?
Gymnastics has given me so many things:
The sport has provided me to be able to travel, along with my supportive parents, and experience our country.
I have friends from the sport that are like my sisters and are an important part of shaping me into who I am today.
Mentally tough, some good and some bad.
A family that cheers you on regardless if you mess up, injure yourself or succeed; for example the cast from ABC Family TV show called Make It or Break It took time out of their busy schedule to support me at my first meet of the year. Along with girls I have coached at Platinum Gymnastics some friends from New Hope West Coast Church and my family that lives out in California. AMAZING, the love and support the sport of gymnastics brings to people!
Who coaches you and how does that relationship work between two adults?
Randy Lane, Assistant Coach for UCLA Gymnastics, is my coach. It’s fun having him as my coach. He was a gymnast himself and has been coaching college gymnasts a long time so for him to coach me I feel like I’m in college again. Who doesn’t want to feel 20 years younger? lol
I look up to him as my coach, but we discuss our plan of action like friends. It’s a good balance and I really respect him.
In an ideal future, what do you see ahead of you?
In an ideal future I would make the National gymnastics team and I will be traveling to London in July. I would continue working in the TV and Movie industry. Also be doing some sort of fitness instructing on the side and helping others see themselves as a beautiful person through living, eating and being healthy as a lifestyle, not just a diet. I would like to be able to promote gymnastics somehow, whether it’s for a master’s program to gym centers or just continue to inspire kids and adults to never give up on what makes them happy.