Shannon Miller’s Shapely Advice: Get Moving!

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Kids Today Cover story

Spring sports are over and fall activities are still a few months away, but that doesn’t mean your body gets the summer off. The best athletes train all year round, says superstar gymnast Shannon Miller, who has won 60 medals in the last five years.

The first thing she does every morning is get down on the floor for some stretches.

“Splits are my favorite because they keep me really limber, the 18-year-old says. She says most kids can get the same results with a partial split. (That’s where you sit and stretch with your legs in a wide V-shape, rather than push your legs down into a full split). “In time, their flexibility will increase.”

If you want a different daily stretch, Janet Seaman of the American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness suggests, “While standing, do a long leg stretch by bending down to touch your toes. Try this five or 10 times.”

After your stretch, Seaman says you might want to jump in the pool for a vigorous 30-minute swim. “Try this three times a week and you’ll be in shape for fall.”

Shannon also urges kids to get outside and get moving. “TV swimming (to improve overall health), in-line skating (to strengthen legs), and bike riding (to improve coordination and get your heart rate up),” she says. “Just stay active.”

Shannon’s routine is pretty strict because she is getting ready to compete for a spot on the 1996 Olympic gymnastics team. She spends nearly eight hours a day training at the gym. Her day starts with an hour of stretching, followed by a 15-minute run. She spends the next six to seven hours practicing the vault, uneven and parallel bars, balance beam and doing floor exercises.

Her hard work has rewards. At the 1992 Olympics, she won two silver and three bronze medals. “It’s really exciting to win a medal,” she says. ‘“You can see how all your hard work has paid off.”

Of course, there are, moments when Shannon treats herself to a few slices of cheese pizza or hangs out in front of the TV to watch her favorite shows, Seinfeld and Friends. And in her free time, she goes shopping with her girlfriends.

As for the future, the Atlanta Olympics will be Shannon’s last competition. After that, she’s off to the University of Oklahoma . She hopes to become a doctor specializing in—what else—sports medicine.

REMEMBER TO STRETCH: Before any workout, you need to stretch.

• Stand 3 to 5 feet from a wall, reach your arms to the wall.
• Lean on them as you stretch out one and then the other.
• With one hand on a chair or bar, reach the other hand back, lifting one leg at a time.