Aly Raisman didn’t become the first U.S. gymnast in history to win an Olympic gold medal on floor exercise by sitting on her ass. “I work out some days up to seven hours,” she said in a recent interview promoting her appearance in ESPN’s 2015 Body Issue. “By the end of the day I’m completely exhausted.”
Her commitment to the rigor that comes with training for Olympic competition has paid off in more ways than one. In addition to an individual gold medal at the 2012 London Games, Raisman also earned a bronze medal for on the balance beam, and was a member of a U.S. gymnastics squad that took the overall gold. And really, before we move on, let’s revisit her gold medal-winning routine, which she performed to Hava Nagila. Feel free to clap and cry with pride:
It turns out that exercise also does a body good—damn good. As a result, Raisman, a Jewish gymnast from Needham, Massachusetts, is featured in his year’s ESPN the Magazine’s annual Body Issue, a publication dedicated to showing athlete’s naked bodies in various poses. This edition of the magazine, which is ultimately funded by Disney, the majority owner of ESPN, debuted in 2009 with the tagline “bodies we want,” and featured Serena Williams on the cover.
On the pages of the magazine, sometimes athletes giggle with mouths agape while holding a sports ball over their junk. Sometimes they look more serious or pensive or focused or driven. And sometimes they act as they would on their fields of play, by making a juke or dunking or striving for an in-air split—just without clothes.
And what unites all of these athletes are their world-class abilities, and their world-class bodies. And Raisman is no exception:
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.