About a year ago, I decided to try my hand at yoga — and not just any kind. The particular kind I’ve attempted sticks you in a heated room and gets you moving for a full 75 minutes without stopping.
It’s grueling and occasionally miserable. But the instructors often encourage us to smile even when our muscles and joints are screaming.
For a long time, I didn’t understand why, because your facial expression doesn’t matter during bodily exercise, right? Well, after watching UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s perfect-10 floor routine at the Under Armor 2019 Collegiate Challenge on Jan. 12, I totally get it.
Gymnastics is the sort of sport where you get used to seeing people perform amazing acts. The twists, the flips, the balances, the spins — it all starts to become commonplace for an ordinary viewer who can’t distinguish the details of a gymnast’s movements.
But KNXV reported that Ohashi, NCAA co-champion in floor exercises and a 2018 NCAA team champion, earned an ideal score from the event’s judges.
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How did she manage it? By throwing more than a dash of downright fun into her athletic recipe.
A video released by UCLA Gymnastics showed Ohashi open her routine with a flurry of flips. Yet when she landed to the strains of upbeat pop rock, she did something viewers must not have expected.
She broke into dance, snapping her arms up and down before spinning them in circles, a grin plastered on her face. More floor work followed, during which she pointed a finger at the crowd before clapping her hands above her head, egging them on.
Tumbling and balancing met with further dramatic flourishes. Songs cycled in the space of seconds, flipping from style to style as effortlessly as the gymnast twirled her body.
Ohashi kept up with it all, seamlessly shifting between gravity-defying flips, shimmies, and facial expressions that seemed to say, “Isn’t this just a load of fun?” There was more than one nod to Michael Jackson, too.
My favorite bit came right at the end. Ohashi wrapped up a series of flips with split that saw her collapse to the mat and then pop right back up.
As she shook herself off and struck a pose, the King of Pop’s signature falsetto rang out throughout the auditorium. The crowd went wild and so did the judges — and it isn’t hard to understand why.
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