Gabby Douglas Is Returning to Gymnastics With Her Best Foot Forward

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It's been eight years since Gabby Douglas, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, has competed in gymnastics. She quietly stepped back from the sport after the 2016 Olympics — her second time at the games — and in 2022, stepped away from social media to care for her mental health. In one of her last posts, she wrote that on the road to Rio, "I went through hell x2 and i lost my joy, i lost my passion, my fire, my love, and then myself."

11 months later, in the summer of 2023, she came back on the feed with triumphant news: she was training for the 2024 Olympics. And on the way there, she's putting her best foot forward in every possible way.

"Initially, it was really hard for me to get back into the gym because I experienced a lot there the last time around," Douglas tells PS. "But I just had to do it; I just had to step in the gym."

Those steps were taken on feet that had spent some time away from the mat, which meant that Douglas kicked her DIY pedicure routine into high gear to get them ready to stick a perfect landing.

"Feet are very prevalent in gymnastics — we ice our feet, we use chalk, which really dries them out, and all the spinning and turning really hardens the bottoms," she says. Needless to say, her foot-care routine is more intensive than what most of us do to our faces. To get the job done, she turns to Dr. Scholls, whom she recently partnered with as a brand ambassador.

"On the days when I want to shave my calluses down, I use the Callus Remover Electronic Foot File ($11)," she says. It's very easy to travel with and use on the go. It removes all of the hardened skin, and it's so good for my feet. I love using it."

And when Douglas wants to give those feet a little extra love, "I use the Severe Cracked Heel Repair Restoring Balm ($8)," she says. "It's so good and so moisturizing."

This is just one of the self-care practices that have helped Douglas feel grounded recently. "It's very important for me to take care of my body and my mind," she says. "But I look at self-care so much on the mental side of things, because if you take care of your mind and make sure that's healthy, then your body will be able to perform and do what you want it to do."

During her time off from competing, Douglas took a step inward. "I did a lot of journaling and self-reflection and looking at myself and videos of my past self," she says. And when she finally felt ready to go back into the gym, "I just took a deep breath and said let's step back into it."

Rediscovering her joy has been a journey, but Douglas is taking it one step at a time, which is something we can all learn from. "It took me a little bit to put on a leotard, but we finally got there," she says. "I didn't put a lot on myself because it was very overwhelming. I went to the gym, did a few pull-ups, and stayed for an hour or two. Remember, you don't have to get it all done in one day. Take baby steps — I definitely did."

Zoë Weiner is a freelance beauty and wellness writer. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Byrdie, Cosmopolitan, PS, GQ, Glamour, Marie Claire, Allure, Self, Brides, and Teen Vogue, among others, and she was the senior beauty editor at Well+Good.