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The story of a gymnast

I'm Laura Andreea Cristache, a gymnast. My story may not be much different from the stories of other gymnasts, but I decided to lay out these few lines about myself in the hope that in this way I will inspire both girls and boys to turn their attention to this sport which, at least in recent years, seems to be losing ground.

What is the purpose of life? I am convinced that many have asked themselves this question, especially in the times we live in, times in which more and more people turn their attention to spirituality, to self-discovery. From an early age, everyone chooses their own role models in life. The first models are obviously parents, siblings ... Then we grow up and choose models from society. We have people we admire who inspire us. Others read a lot and take as characters models from books, success stories that they look forward to. There are people who, at the beginning, try all kinds of activities - painting, music, sports - until they realize what their calling is, but only a few know from the first moment what their passion is and start a fight, a fight called life, to get where they want to go. I could say that I belong to this second category and I consider myself lucky, because it is not for nothing that it is said: "If you do what you are passionate about, you will never work". I've heard this expression since I was a child, I don't remember exactly who, but now, looking back, I realize how much truth it hides.

I started artistic gymnastics at the age of 5, at a state club in Bucharest. There were other times. Information was not at hand as it is now, in the age of digitization. There were many shortcomings, but people shared the same passion and I think that was the secret of success. Sometimes the information can have a downside. It can distract you from your goal, they are tempting everywhere.

I practiced this branch of gymnastics for 10 years. It was ten years of giving up, hard work, but also smiles and joy, especially at the first medals. I don't think there are words to describe the joy that flourishes in the soul of the little gymnast who has the first rewards of his work. My first medals were at the "Little Gymnast" competition, held in the August 23 hall. There were 5 gold medals in five different apparatus (individual, parallel, bar, floor and vault). Now that I'm writing these lines, I don't want to remember those moments and I seem to rekindle that thrill in my heart and I also remember that the prizes were 5 red McDonald's satchels and 40 size socks. Now, this detail makes me smile. It didn't really matter then. All that mattered was that I had succeeded, I was one step closer to my dream.

What is the dream of any gymnast? To get on the podium at the highest competitions and to sing the anthem of your own country. A few years later, I managed to win the silver medal at the national championships, at the top, at the parallel bars, an apparatus that was not very dear to me, but it seems that I was doing really well. One reason could be ambition, because it has always characterized me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could. And I could!

As I said at the beginning, life is a struggle, things are not always easy, but it is important to always keep in mind that there are ups and downs. Nothing is permanent, everything is cyclical. We have to learn something from each stage and train ourselves as athletes and as people. The club I worked for was left without a gym and I had two options: to move to another club in Bucharest or to go to Deva. I opted for Deva, for an easy-to-understand reason: that's where the gymnasts from the national team trained, the place I wanted to go to. I remember that the training in Deva was very hard, worthy of discouraging any child. But I had a few years of experience behind me and, thanks to sports, I also strengthened my mental health. I knew I could. Sport develops not only a harmonious body, but also the mental health. He makes you an orderly, conscientious girl, he prepares you mentally to face any challenge of life. And it was hard, it really was! There were no mobile phones, we were far from parents, friends ... A lot of work and that's about it. And since then I can really do whatever I set out to do. Later I understood that evolution and progress come from less pleasant moments, which take you out of your comfort zone.

And now comes the coup de grace ... After so many years of work, following the regular medical visit, I am told that I will not be given a favorable opinion to continue with this sport, because I had major medical problems with my spine. I was advised to take a break for two years, during which time I would go to recovery. Those who have practiced any sport know that you can't afford even a one-week break, but at least a two-year break. It was obvious that this road I had taken years ago was getting clogged. Thousands of thoughts rushed to flood my mind. But I was not discouraged. That was my passion, my dream. There had to be a solution. And when you really want something, the solution comes. The universe works for you and through you and something always comes up. This was a good thing for me. He directed my steps towards something even more beautiful, which brought me even more joy and satisfaction in time.

I returned to Bucharest, I recovered and I had the opportunity to join the national junior team of aerobic gymnastics, where I had Cristina Spînu and Ramona Chiorean as coaches. With this team I won a gold and a silver medal at the World Championships by age category and, later, two gold medals at the European Championships.

The years passed and I became part of the senior team, this time coached by Maria Fumea and, for a short time, by Claudiu Varlam. I continued to fight, even though the back problems had not been fully resolved. I took silver at both the European and World Championships. I confess that it is frustrating to lose gold by a tenth of a difference. But that strengthened me, made me want more.

In addition to training, I never forgot my studies. I was aware that you could perform for a relatively short period of time and then, in order to succeed in life, I needed to study. I graduated from the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, followed by a master's degree in Performance and Sports Training. But I did some more studies, Spiru Haret Faculty of Marketing and Economic Studies, and I don't say it to brag, but to emphasize that nothing is accidental. As you will see, these studies are extremely useful to me today, as an entrepreneur.

Over the years, in the competitions I participated in, I met athletes from all over the world. I was curious how they prepare, what methods they use, what training conditions they have. I researched and accidentally took two courses at HARVARD University. I enrolled and, in 2021, I graduated with Cognitive fitness and Back Pain courses: finding solutions for your arching back.

There comes a time when you have to stop being in the spotlight and try to help other athletes, share them with your experience, give them your information. I have taken many courses, but I do not want to occupy these lines listing all my specializations. I will mention only two that helped me a lot and thanks to which I will be able to help many athletes. Physical training of performance athletes and the Psychology of Athletes Workshop.

I started training children at a state club in Bucharest while I was still in the national team. After 10 years of volunteering at this club, I decided to start a private club. Experience has spoken once again and shown me that you must always follow your instincts. I made the decision at the best time, because the aerobics department of the state club was disbanded. I told you at the beginning that it is a losing sport and I will fight as best I can to stop this trend. This is not easy either, because in addition to my continuous training and training of small gymnasts, I have to develop my entrepreneurial skills quickly, which is quite difficult in a country suffocated by bureaucracy. But these are other adventures that I will reveal to you in the next blog.

I conclude this short presentation of my activity by inviting you to the website of the Laura Cristache Gymnastics Academy There you can find out about our courses, buy sports equipment, get in touch with other gymnasts and we can create a strong community together. You can also read these blogs that I hope will inspire you and make you tell your story so that you, in turn, can inspire others.

If I were to give you some advice, I would dare to tell you not to worry about being the best, explore that side of you that makes you unique and different, be authentic and success will not be long in coming.

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