Lip Sync Battle, Nights on a Tour Bus and Not Nearly Enough Sleep: What Olympian Aly Raisman's Life Is Like After Rio
It’s been a whirlwind month-and-a-half since Rio for gold medal-winning gymnast Aly Raisman.
Since she’s arrived back in the United States, she’s hit the MTV VMAs (where she presented an award to Beyoncé), gotten red carpet-ready with Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and hung out at the White House with the Obamas, among other cool things. But her absolute favorite moment? Taking on Lip Sync Battle with Olivia Munn — and Olympic teammate Simone Biles.
“It was so funny, because part of Simone’s costume was supposed to rip off, and hers didn’t rip off all the way,” Raisman told PEOPLE at the Aly Raisman Takes the Floor Event hosted by UJA-Federation of New York and Central Synagogue. “We were hysterically laughing the entire time.”
“It was such an exciting experience, because we’d never done anything like that before,” she continued. “I think we’d both be a little embarrassed to do it on our own, so the fact that we got to go on for a couple of seconds with her was the perfect amount for us.”
Hollywood moments like Lip Sync Battle may be happening more and more for Raisman, but right now, the bulk of her schedule is taken up by the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. Last week, she and the rest of the cast — which includes her 2016 teammates, as well as 2012 teammate Jordyn Wieber and 2008 Olympians Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson — performed five shows straight. They’re in a different city everyday and spending many of their nights on a tour bus.
And though a performance on tour doesn’t carry the same sort of pressure that the Olympics do, it still makes her heart speed up, just a bit.
“It’s more relaxed and a lot more fun,” she said. “You’re a little closer to the fans than you would be in a competition, so you can actually hear them. It’s really cute to hear all the little girls. So it’s a bit of pressure, because they’re watching you.”
She’s busy now, but after years of spending hours and hours at the gym, even post-Olympic life is a break.
“I don’t think anything can compare to the training, just because it’s so many hours,” she said.
However, if you think that the absence of a grueling training schedule opens Raisman up for more downtime, you’d be wrong. Just this week, she rose at 3:30 a.m. to catch a flight to New York City, had a photo shoot with Reebok and attended the Q&A at New York City’s Central Synagogue. The next morning, she was up early again to make an appearance on Live with Kelly. And in two days, she’ll start a four-day stretch of shows across the Midwest, with stops in Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Grand Rapids.
“It’s been crazy, but so much fun,” she shared. “I’ve been enjoying every moment of it, because I know how lucky I am to be in this position.”
At the event, Raisman discussed the impact Judaism has had on her life both on and off the mat. In particular, she discussed the effect dedicating her gold medal-winning 2012 floor routine to the Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics had on her.
“When I chose the music when I was 16, turning 17, I didn’t really realize the impact choosing ‘Hava Nagila’ for my floor music would have on my life after the Olympics,” she said. “I’ve been able to connect with the Jewish community all over the world.”
And of course, Raisman has been doing a lot of reflecting on (and talking about!) Rio in the weeks after the Olympics. In particular, her silver medal win in the all-around competition — which to her, she said, felt like a gold medal win — because she experienced it with teammate Biles by her side.
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“It was only the second time in U.S. history that gymnastics had gone 1-2 — I remember watching Shawn and Nastia do it in 2008,” she said. “So to be able to do that and to share that podium with Simone, I think about all the little girls who are watching us, and maybe they’ll be able to do it someday. It gives me chills.”
Whether she’ll be competing in Tokyo has yet to be seen but Raisman said she’s nowhere near done with her sport — and needs some time off before getting back into training, which she’s hoping to do by the end of next summer.
“I know that I’m going to come back,” she said. “I just need a little bit of time to be with my family and rest a little bit. I wouldn’t consider being on tour a break, just because we’re still doing gymnastics and it’s still so much traveling.”
“While it’s really cool, I definitely need to catch up on my sleep.”