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Why Everybody Loves Whitney Bjerken – An Outdated Faculty Gymnastics Weblog

Whitney Bjerken just lately introduced her retirement from gymnastics, solely she didn’t use the phrase “retire” whereas saying it. Whitney repeatedly used the phrase “stop” as an alternative. The phrase “retirement” has connotations connected to it and is usually utilized by gymnasts after an extended and profitable profession. However that’s not the tone Bjerken wished to take. As an alternative, Whitney wished to mirror a message that she herself has given up, and has turned her again on objectives that may now go unfulfilled.

Gymnastics typically produces tales of the warrior athlete who by no means quits. Gymnasts corresponding to Oksana Chusovitna, Gabby Douglas, and Yulia Biryulya. Gymnasts who function superb function fashions instructing us to combat by means of adversity, to by no means cease attempting, and to by no means flip your again by yourself objectives. Chusovitina, Douglas, and Biryulya present an necessary instructing second.

However so do gymnasts who retire younger like Denisa Golgota and now Whitney Bjerken.

Gymnasts ought to by no means be afraid to say “no” to the game. That gymnastics is necessary, however so are different issues in life. Gymnastics is a sport that’s supposed to offer gymnasts pleasure, not be a burden. For Whitney Bjerken, gymnastics had grow to be precisely that. Whitney summed up her emotions by saying:

“I really like the game however I hate doing it at this level. And I hate that I hate doing it, however I simply do.”

Whitney has spent nearly her whole life as a job mannequin for younger kids. She is finest identified for a gymnastics themed YouTube channel that now has 1.6 million subscribers. The channel has been round for therefore lengthy that Bjerken who just lately turned 18 has movies on her channel going again to when she was solely 5 or 6 years outdated. Whitney was successfully a baby star on YouTube and amongst the primary technology of such baby Web personalities to exist.

However like her up to date Olivia Dunne of TikTok fame, gymnasts who double as social media celebrities are sometimes subjected to unfair criticisms that they aren’t nice athletes. Outsiders deal with them as figures who’re solely related as a result of they’ve a big private fanbase, and refuse to imagine they’re additionally completed athletes. In Whitney Bjerken’s case, she was as a lot a adorned athlete as she was a well-liked YouTube character.

In her youthful years Bjerken persistently ranked as one of many top-100 gymnasts inside her age group on the nationwide degree. Whitney was on observe for a powerful profession the place she would have damaged into the elite degree, maybe certified to the highest home competitions such because the U.S. Classics or Nationwide Championships. If issues went nicely, maybe Whitney might earn a spot on the Nationwide Group.

The one motive that by no means occurred is as a result of gymnasts want a little bit little bit of luck with the intention to succeed and Bjerken had the worst form of luck. Accidents to the elbow just isn’t the commonest kind of harm in gymnastics. However for the gymnasts who’ve accidents to this space of the physique, it shortly turns into a serious profession impediment. Then got here a development spurt which for a younger aspiring teenager like Whitney, solely made it that a lot more durable to succeed.

Regardless of the misfortune, Whitney saved at it and was in a position to make her dedication to the College of Alabama. Though there wouldn’t be an Olympics for Whitney, gymnastics followers continued to carry her in excessive regard. Gymnastics followers contemplate Bjerken the perfect at performing wolf turns and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that many really feel she is the easiest on the planet at performing this particular talent.

Gymnastics purists don’t view Whitney as some irrelevant low-grade gymnast who solely will get talked about as a result of she has a well-liked YouTube channel. They adopted her profession intently and when the day got here that Bjerken introduced she is quitting gymnastics, the feedback ranged from one fan calling it a tragic day, one other saying “I’m going to overlook her gymnastics.” The departure of Whitney Bjerken provoked a response from gymnastics followers as emotional as any main retirement in latest reminiscence.

However how does a gymnast who spent her life increase a big gymnastics fanbase on social media, stop gymnastics? Whitney herself referred to as it nerve-racking and acknowledged she is frightened that she’s going to expertise a mass exodus of followers leaving her channel. At one level, Whitney referred to as it “scary” after which corrected herself to say “truly it’s terrifying.” For Whitney, her social media platform isn’t only for enjoyable, it’s her livelihood.

Fan reactions on Twitter to Whitney Bjerken’s retirement announcement.

It speaks to the bravery and braveness of Whitney Bjerken that she is taking up this problem, and the dangers related to it. However Bjerken desires to do what’s finest for herself and pursue the actions that make her completely satisfied. Putting that above all else. The only greatest motive Whitney gave for her departure is that she wished to begin specializing in the actions that she’s going to be capable of do for the remainder of her life. Not gymnastics the place beneath the perfect case state of affairs, she would have been retired 4 years from now when her NCAA eligibility runs out.

Whitney does this all whereas having the braveness to say she merely misplaced her ardour for the game and willpower to maintain doing it. Whitney might have simply lied, claiming she was retiring for medical causes and nobody would have identified in any other case. However Whitney had far an excessive amount of integrity to keep away from being truthful, even when she didn’t should be.

Bjerken leaves behind a gymnastics channel that supplied a lot worth to the game. Whitney Bjerken was the quintessential function mannequin, offering movies that had been each bit as academic as they had been entertaining. Whitney gave an actual perspective on what gymnastics competitions had been like. She revealed movies that didn’t simply present her routines, however her equipment warmups, even the pre-competition warmups, and the way she carried herself in between rotations.

Her movies whereas coaching at her house fitness center went roughly the identical method, with Whitney showcasing what a full observe session appeared like. Whitney allowed folks to study concerning the gymnastics way of life in a method they’ll’t see when one watches a gymnastics competitors on tv or any skilled documentary. Bjerken prevented displaying merely “highlights” which is how just about each kind of visible media covers gymnastics.

What Whitney did as an alternative was give viewers the uninterrupted model of a observe session. Whereas your typical gymnastics documentary would present a bunch of gymnasts coaching on a row of beams, solely showcase a few tough abilities with no rationalization of what they had been engaged on or how they obtained to that second, Whitney took a distinct strategy.

Whitney would present what abilities she warms up with, what number of occasions she practices a selected talent earlier than she tries one thing else, whereas viewers can watch her get higher and higher as she does the identical talent a few occasions in a row. You can see how typically she took a pause to get some relaxation, how she reacted when she couldn’t full a talent she was attempting to study, and the way she reacted when she fell.

Valeri Liukin and Whitney Bjerken

Whitney would present what a real, prolonged, and devoted beam session seems to be like in coaching. Not the hurried, frantic mess that outsiders solely see in podium coaching throughout a gymnastic competitors. Whitney replicated this system for each side of her gymnastics life. No different type of gymnastics media gave as a lot of a whole image of the game as Whitney Bjerken’s YouTube channel.

In a sport the place movie crews focus all their efforts on the tremendous tough abilities like a Yurchenko double pike, Whitney constructed a well-liked model for herself the place the spine of her channel was boring, repetitive, mundane, power constructing workout routines that had been so easy anybody can do them. However her success proved that this was the content material gymnastics followers wished, a glimpse into the lifetime of a gymnast that was real and unedited.

Bjerken did stuff like movie an episode about how she suffered dozens of warts on her fingers. A difficulty gymnasts are prone to as gymnasts ceaselessly stick their fingers right into a shared chalk bucket, whereas concurrently slicing their pores and skin whereas griping the uneven bars. It was an instance of Whitney offering an consciousness to one of many little identified hassles that gymnasts should take care of. Her content material supplied a lot academic worth that a few of her movies can be utilized as a instrument for web sites like this one to indicate informal sports activities followers among the finer particulars of gymnastics that they could in any other case not find out about.

Whitney Bjerken and Elena Arenas

However there was additionally the younger gymnasts who watched her channel and appeared to Whitney for steerage. Whitney might all the time be counted on to be a job mannequin for them. From her constructive habits when followers wished to fulfill her at competitions, to her willingness to reply questions from viewers providing recommendation on the way to compete whereas going by means of their menstrual cycle. For a YouTube channel that has been round for greater than a decade, Whitney managed to cowl each subject about gymnastics from probably the most critical to issues as trivial as what she packed in her fitness center bag earlier than a contest.

When Whitney framed her departure from the game as “quitting” slightly than “retiring,” it was as a result of she had one final video to make. Whitney spent her whole life documenting the lifetime of a gymnast, showcasing each conceivable state of affairs or deadlock a gymnast will expertise in her profession, and giving viewers an opportunity to expertise it themselves. The one plot level that each gymnast will attain is the day they go away the game.

For a gymnast who had spent eleven years documenting every thing, Whitney was going to doc this as nicely. Bjerken preserved footage of all of the steps she took as she underwent the method of quitting gymnastics. From calling her future coach on the College of Alabama to tell her she wouldn’t be attending, to requesting a household assembly together with her longtime membership coach the place either side knew precisely what such a request meant. Whitney didn’t merely announce she had stop, she had spent months documenting all the technique of withdrawing and included it alongside her announcement.

That is Whitney’s final present to gymnastics, showcasing this expertise to her youthful viewers in order that they’re higher ready for the day after they too might need to embark on the identical painful course of. Maybe that is why Whitney didn’t say she was “retiring” from gymnastics. For her younger viewers who compete recreationally on the decrease degree, they don’t “retire” from the game. They merely stop. Whitney Bjerken determined to border her departure in a method that matches the views of the gymnasts who look as much as her.

Whitney defined the tough technique of coming to phrases with quitting, and overcoming the feelings the place you’re feeling like you may have left your coach and household down. It follows a profession the place she ceaselessly defined her ideas earlier than or after competitions. In her profession Bjerken had undoubtedly helped numerous gymnasts who had been at or under the L-10 degree. Younger gymnasts who had been in a position to watch Whitney’s movies and used her phrases to get a greater understanding as they confronted those self same unhealthy emotions themselves.

When Whitney Bjerken began pivoting in direction of music inside the previous yr, gymnastics followers took notice and at occasions questioned her sudden curiosity on this subject. However a stunning element about Whitney Bjerken’s YouTube channel that’s so broadly identified to the gymnastics group, her very first video truly had nothing to do with gymnastics. It was a singing video. Music has grow to be the defining subject of her life as Whitney is coming into her grownup years, whereas gymnastics appears to outline it much less and fewer.

As Whitney completes her pivot to music, it’s nearly as if she is returning again to the place she belongs and gymnastics was fortunate to have had her for the time that it did.

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