Gymnast in a blue leotard sitting with cross legs, smiling, against a whimsical cloud backdrop.

Gabby Douglas Is Back In Competition Mode

The champion gymnast shares her self-care tips as she preps for the Paris Olympics.

Chill Sesh
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Gabby Douglas has her eyes on the prize. The three-time gold medalist recently qualified for the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, which will determine whether she’ll be part of Team USA at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.

The former all-around champion returned to the competition circuit after eight years away, and tells Elite Daily she did a lot of self-reflecting during that time. “I learned a lot about myself, and that's brought me back to the gym,” the 28-year-old says about how she spent her hiatus.

While she’s hoping to make her return to the Games this summer, Douglas says she’s just “excited to be back out there on the competition floor.”

I wanted to take a step back and work on myself and my mental state.

After competing in the 2012 and 2016 events, Douglas quietly withdrew from her chosen sport, but she never officially announced her retirement. “I wanted to take a step back and work on myself and my mental state,” she told NBC earlier this year.

To further prioritize her mental health, she took an extended social media break. The two-time Olympian shared on Instagram in 2022 that she was taking a breather from the app to “feel light and happy again” after dealing with the weight and pressure of being in the public eye. Now, she says she’s back on IG and feeling joy again, both on and off the mat.

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The champion is also taking better care of herself to make sure she doesn’t get too stressed out. Self-care is super important for the Olympic hopeful, so Douglas recently partnered with Dr. Scholl's for the brand’s new foot skin care line.

Below, she shares her go-to products, how she unwinds after a long day at the gym, and how she feels preparing for the Paris Games.

Elite Daily: As a gymnast, how important is it for you to take care of your feet?

Gabby Douglas: Gymnasts deal with a lot of rough equipment like the beam, floor, and the vault. We grind our feet when we turn on the floor or the beam, so we get a lot of calluses — even with all the chalk we have to use.

ED: What is your current foot care routine?

GD: The chalk really dries out my feet, so I love using Dr. Scholl’s Ultra-Hydrating Foot Cream. If my heels are extra dry, I use the severe cracked heel balm, which provides a more intense moisture.

I also love using the Callus Remover Electronic Foot File. It helps to touch up, detail, and have my feet feeling very smooth.

ED: Are calluses good to have during competition season?

GD: I like to keep the calluses on my hands, but I love to have my feet smooth. That way, if we're on the floor and on the beam, it's not rubbing up and catching on the material.

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ED: Can you walk me through your current morning and nighttime skin care routines?

GD: For my skin, I don't do too much. I'll just do an aloe vera cleanser. I exfoliate here and there, apply a vitamin E oil, and then that's it with my skin care routines for both morning and night.

ED: You've recently returned to the competition circuit. What were some of the biggest lessons that you learned while away?

GD: I did a lot of self-reflecting and journaling. Learning more about myself brought me back to the gym.

I've learned that you need to pick and choose your battles.

ED: You also took a break from social media for your mental health. What is your current relationship with your phone?

GD: I am back on social media. I will look at different things and different trends and stuff like that, but I will typically post and get off to have a break. I've experienced a lot of challenges when it comes to being online.

I've learned that you need to pick and choose your battles. I used to have the Twitter fingers, and I replied to one guy and he's like, “Oh my goodness, I didn't think you'd respond. I love you.” That's why I don't really take it seriously because some people just want you to respond.

ED: Do you have any tips for people trying to take a break from social media?

GD: Just get off. You have to make it a habit of not going on there. Even if you do end up going on there or you have obligations — I totally understand that, because I do too — just post and get off.

I’ll do what I want, because at the end of the day, you can't please everybody.

ED: You've been open about people criticizing your appearance, like having to apologize for not smiling. Any advice for young women facing similar issues?

GD: March to the beat of your own drum. I have experienced a lot of hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to social media. A lot of people will be like, “Why are you not smiling?” And then you smile, they're like, “Well, why aren't you being serious?” I’ll do what I want, because at the end of the day, you can't please everybody.

It was very challenging and hard for me to step back into the gym.

ED: How has it been getting back into the competition space after eight years away?

GB: It's been a journey. It was very challenging and hard for me to step back into the gym. I just had to do it, but it's been a very healing and a fun process at the same time.

ED: What has the response to your return been like?

GD: I've gotten so much positive feedback on social media. I see that, and then I use it. I'm like, “All right, let's do this thing.”

ED: Do you find there's more pressure on you coming back?

GD: I honestly feel like it's been the same. It's always going to be the same because it's a very pressurized situation. I just take one thing at a time, one day at a time, and just really focus on what I need to do for today.

ED: Have you implemented any new self-care recovery practices now that you're getting back into things?

GD: I have. When I have tired or achy feet, I love using the Dr. Scholl's foot mask at night. It's literally like an Epsom salt bath mixed with essential oils. I also do icing, cryo, and acupuncture here and there.

ED: How often are you going to the gym now that you're back?

GD: I go to the gym six days a week, eight hours a day. Just one day off.

ED: Describe to me the perfect way to unwind after a long day at the gym.

GD: After I do gymnastics, I ice my feet and go home. Then, I'll shower, scrub off the day, and then do my nighttime regimen. And then, I'm not even lying to you, I will literally get in bed, do a foot mask, and go to sleep.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.