Rubén López, Olympian 2012 outlines his long journey to qualify for the Olympic games. How he learned to work hard, and persevere through the example of his parents, why he values missing out on important moments due to injury is more severe than not qualifying through performance and how he learned to be patient and stay positive.
In this interview Ruben shares
- The origins of his nickname ‘Chino’
- His worst moment
- His best moment
- What advice would he give his younger self
- What are the habits, that make him a successful athlete or person
- His morning routine
- How to prepare for important moments
- How to overcome setbacks
- His role model
- The best advice he has received
- How does a typical training day look
- Who he nominates to be interviewed
- Where can you find Ruben Lopez
Christian: In this interview, I am joined by Rubén López. Ruben is a Spanish gymnast who participated in the London Olympics in 2012 and missed the Rio Olympics due to injury. Rubén is now training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
[The original interview was done in Spanish. Rubén asked me to do the interview in Spanish, below you will read the English translation of the interview.]
The origins of his nickname ‘Chino’
Christian: Rubén, the nickname “Chino”, where does it come from?
Rubén: It started when I practiced gymnastics, I was in the same Club as Gervasio Deferr – the most famous gymnast, and the one with the greatest results in Spanish gymnastics history. So we belonged to the same Club, and when I started doing gymnastics – I remember that when I was a kid I had small eyes (Asian look) and since he did not know me and didn’t know my name, he started calling me: “Chino, come here!” or “Chino this thing!” “Chino that!” and of course since he was so well known in the world of gymnastics, everyone who was listening to him, and started calling me by the same nickname. So until today, everyone calls me Chino, and nobody calls me Rubén.
Rubén’s worst moment
Christian: In your career as an athlete, what was the hardest moment?
Rubén: For me, there have been two hard moments that I remember, and these were the most severe sports injuries I’ve had during my career. The first one was a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, and that was in the year 2010, at one month of out the World Championships. Everything went well, and it was going to be my first world championship as a senior category athlete, the absolute category.
Everything went well, and it was going to be my first world championship as a senior category athlete, and a month prior, I fell badly in an exit out of the rings.
And a month prior, in one of the internal qualifying competitions, that we made here, in this room, I fell badly in an exit out of the rings. At that moment I noticed that I badly injured myself. The tests of that day showed that I ruptured the cruciate ligament and part of the meniscus, which for me was a very hard, because I was prepared very well and everything seemed that I was going to be in the team, competing in the World Championships and suddenly you hit a wall and fall, you know? What seemed as you have reached the maximum for what you had worked for, for so many years, suddenly plummeted by an injury that stops you completely.
What seemed as you have reached the maximum for what you had worked for, for so many years, suddenly stops completely.
The recovery was also hard, I had never found myself in that situation. But with the help of the sports psychologist, the physiotherapists, the person who did the surgery, my doctor, Lei, who is a great professional, my knee returned as it was new, and today it does not suffer. I can do everything exactly the same as before and with a lot of daily work, it turned out that what was supposed to be a six-month recovery, in just four months I was back in competition, with no discomfort at all, with all the mobility.
In the beginning, it was, a very hard moment, a thing that I remember as negative, but now If I look back to the past, I see it as something positive, because that made my skills grew and later I got to go to other much more important competitions.
Another hard moment that I remember was recent, just a year ago. I had surgery on the right shoulder because of rupture of the tendon of the biceps. This injury was not caused by a fall or accident, but due to the repetition of the training during so many years. Even though that injury appears in many gymnasts, it was pretty hard for me, because I was not a boy of 19 years old anymore, but I was already a man of 28. So the body does not respond the same way, and also the shoulder is a joint that has a lot of mobility and many tendons and fibers are connected to it and in gymnastics, it is an important joint. It has been a hard recovery, not because of complications or because of things have not gone as they had to go, but sometimes the mind plays tricks on you. And you think, for example, that you cannot perform a vertical on the ground as before. For me, that was like brushing my teeth every day. How can I do all that? It’s like comparing yourself continuously when you were in shape and now that you’re injured. It’s hard, and there are moments when you have doubts and think that if it is all worth it? To be striving every day to overcome these injuries.
There are moments when you have doubts and think that if it is all worth it?
But I tell you, the recovery has been great, today I can train exactly as before, but the mind challenged me.
Christian: How did you recover from those moments, the ones you mentioned right now, how did you keep your mind clear and positive?
Rubén: It wasn’t an easy task, I tell you, when everything is going well and you get up every day without discomfort and everything goes smoothly, that’s great, because everything is good, everything is positive and you are motivated, and you want to keep going. But there are also many days when you wake up and feel a lot of pain and maybe what you thought was going to go down this road, suddenly has to go down another road and then you start to put a story in your head, “Will I be doing it well?” or “Will, I get where I want to go?”
There are many days when you wake up and feel a lot of pain, and then you start to put a story in your head, “Will I be doing it well?” or “Will I get where I want to go?” In these moments, you have to try to trust yourself, remember other difficult situations that you have had and overcame.
In these moments, you have to try to trust yourself, remember other difficult situations that you have had and overcame. Trust that if you do things right every day, how the professionals around you, tell you to. If you are consistent, you maintain an attitude of motivation and positivism, you will reach your goal, in the end, sooner or later. These problems end up solving themselves and there comes a day when it sounds like a click in your head and you say: “OK! I know. I’m going to get out of this.”
If you are consistent, you maintain an attitude of motivation and positivism, you will reach your goal, in the end, sooner or later. And the problems end up solving themselves.
Christian: What do you find more serious, the injuries or the times when you did not qualify?
Rubén: That is also pretty hard, but the injuries are something you can’t control. A bad fall or a blow against a device causes you an injury and that’s it, you can’t do anything about it. On the other hand, if they do not select you to go to a competition or you are not in the team, it is because of something that depends on yourself and you have not done well or you haven’t done enough. It means that you do not have the level or the coach thinks there are other people who can do better than you. You feel a great frustration, and it’s a very hard moment, but all you have left is to work harder to get better, that’s it.
Injuries are something you can’t control, on the other hand, if they do not select you to go to a competition, it means that you do not have the level and there are other people who can do better than you.
The solution is to work, work, work and it depends on yourself, while the other does not depend so much on yourself, because you do not know how it will evolve because you do not have 100% control of the evolution of that injury.
Rubén’s best moment
Christian: What was the best moment of your career?
Rubén: For me, the best moment was at the London 2012 Olympics. Because when you start in any sport, at first you may not think about it, but when you see that you are acquiring a good level and you realize, that maybe, you can become the elite athlete, it is when you start to think that you want to be in the Olympic Games, because it is the greatest thing an athlete can hope for. So I remember that feeling, being there in the Olympic Village, together with the best athletes from around the world and you feel part of that group.
I remember that feeling, being there in the Olympic Village, together with the best athletes from around the world and you feel part of that group.
To say “I’m here is because I’m just as good as them and I’m among the best in the world.” is just great. It’s like so much work, so many hours of training, for so many years, it’s worth it just to live those moments, the power to be living with great athletes such as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt or other names of famous athletes and the fact of going to a stadium to compete that is full to the top can’t be described.
It’s like so much work, so many hours of training, for so many years, it’s worth it, just to live these moments.
Unfortunately, gymnastics it’s a minority sport and it does not always have the audience that you could expect, but at the Olympic Games it has media attention and is a big competition and there are so many people watching, so much media involved and that makes the adrenaline grow and you feel like a superstar.
Christian: Could you do your best at the Olympic Games? What I mean is, could you show your best performance in the Olympic Games.
Rubén: Before participating at the Olympic Games I realized that both, physical training in the gym and mental fitness outside the gym with the sports psychologist are very important. What you see, sometimes the athletes go crazy before the Olympic games, when in fact it is exactly the same as any other competition, the only thing that changes is the title and that the media give it more important than other competitions. But you get to the room to compete and there is the same equipment, same exercises and you compete against the same gymnasts as in other competitions, with the same judges, everything is exactly the same, only that many times we look at the outer packaging of the Olympic Games, and you start to think “If I win, I am an Olympic champion.” So there are many people who become a little crazy about that.
And that’s why you have to try to prepare before the Olympic Games, how to de-dramatize that competition, so that you can get there and that your mind is shaped to give your best, with the exercise you have prepared. If you do your best, you do that and the result will come.
Before the Olympic Games, you have to de-dramatize that competition. If you do your best, you do that and the result will come.
I remember being well prepared physically and mentally, I remember competing in the Olympic Games as if I was competing in a Spanish championship or a small championship. I felt very sure of myself, motivated and confident, as if only 50 people were coming to push me from the apparatus they were not going to pull me, that is, I was very confident in myself.
I remember being well prepared physically and mentally, I remember competing in the Olympic Games as if I was competing in a Spanish championship or a small championship. I felt very sure of myself, motivated and confident.
Christian: What did you learn from this moment?
Rubén: What did I learn? Maybe not at that moment in itself, but in the whole process to get to that point, if you have something very clear and you are willing to give all of you to get it, sooner or later you will get it. Obviously, the road is not easy, because there are going to be times when everything looks good, but there are also going to be bad times.
The road is not easy, because there are also going to be bad times.
Not only because obstacles appear, like injuries, but because at that moment you cannot give more of yourself. Or your level cannot grow more that year, and you stay at the doors and you have to keep fighting and training every day and sometimes you get to the gym and you’re tired and you do not want to do what you have to do. Then, in the end, it’s like that continuous struggle and that continuous delivery, every day gives the best of you to take you a step forward, one step closer to being able to achieve that goal.
I learned that, with a very clear goal in mind and with a lot of effort and constant sacrifice every day, not like not one day 100% in another day 20% another 30% but every day your 100% that you can give that day, in the end, if you do not give up and fight, you just get what you want.
I learned that, with a very clear goal in mind, a lot of effort and constant sacrifice every day, and if you do not give up and fight, in the end, you just get what you want.
His advice to a younger Rubén Lopéz
Christian: What advice would you give to yourself? If you could go back in time 10 years or 15 years, what would you say to yourself?
Rubén: The first thing I would say is to have patience. Because sometimes we hope that things will happen on a certain date, but for certain circumstances, they do not happen on that date, they happen 10 days later or a month later or a year later. So we have to be patient with that.
Sometimes we hope that things will happen on a certain date, but for certain circumstances, they do not happen on that date, so we have to be patient with that.
Above all is to focus on the process of self-forgetting about what friends can tell you, family, your coach or whoever, those are expectations that other people have about you, you must have your own expectations and know where do you want to get, those two important things. You have to work hard, be hardworking every day, and don’t settle for the minimum effort.
Focus on the process of self-forgetting, have your own expectations, work hard, be hardworking every day, and don’t settle for the minimum effort.
And lastly, what I have repeated before giving you 100% every day and especially enjoy. Because at this stage of a high-level athlete, the career of a gymnast lasts just a few years, it doesn’t last a lifetime, and in the end, if you want it or not, it is a very big demand, and body and mind end up suffering. So enjoy it a lot.
The career of a gymnast lasts just a few years, and in the end, if you want it or not, it is a very big demand, and body and mind end up suffering. So enjoy it a lot.
What we do every day, are things that very few people in the world can do. The fact of letting go of a bar and doing pirouettes with extreme precision and getting back to the bar is something that is within the reach of very few people and sometimes we take it for granted, we have these superhuman abilities to do those things and it seems normal to us – but isn’t. Therefore enjoy while doing this sport, because there will come a time when it will end and we will have to go through something else and for sure we will miss it. Especially that joy of day by day doing what we do and that we lived it with passion and taking all the good that this sport can bring.
Christian: What do you enjoy more than the competition or the training process?
Rubén: I sincerely enjoy the process more, even though the moment of competition is when you reap the rewards. I have no words to describe that moment when you reap the rewards of your work, but in the process of preparation, is when you really live, all the obstacles, and all the successes.
I have no words to describe that moment when you reap the rewards of your work, but in the process of preparation, is when you really live.
You live the days that, for example, you are going to try an element, you are very nervous and you do not know if it will go well, and in the end you get it done. Or a day when you are very tired, you are not able to move and in the end, you are doing a good workout, then all that process, including all ups and downs is what I enjoy the most.
I love coming here to the gym without knowing how I am going to end the day, give the best I have of myself, and strive to overcome bad days and reward good ones. For me the process is much more important than the trophy or the result, it makes you be the person you are today.
For me the process is much more important than the trophy or the result, it makes you be the person you are today.
Rubén’s success habits
Christian: What are the habits that have made you a successful athlete?
Rubén: A habit, that I believe is important, not only in sport but in any aspect of life, is to be consistently working every day. Work, work, work. If you work every day, regardless of whether you have the talent or not, your level will grow. And when you stop working one day, you have already lost that day and you cannot get this day back.
A habit, that I believe is important, not only in sport but in any aspect of life, is to be consistently working every day. If you work every day, regardless of whether you have the talent or not, your level will grow.
So the habit of doing what you have to do, even if you don’t feel like doing it, is to say every day that you have to do work and work, that is a very important habit for any facet of life.
Another habit that maybe is a little more related to sports, because it is obviously the one to lead a healthy life, not inside the gym, but to take care of your eating habits. Take care of what you are eating and what you put into the body because it will affect your training.
Apart from what you eat, maintain a positive and clear mentality, that is to say, not thinking “What if I do not get this?” “What if I fall?” “And what if it is not here?…” to think that what you are going to do today, is the right thing to do and that is, what will take you where you want to go.
Maintain a positive and clear mentality, think that what you are going to do today, is the right thing to do and that is, what will take you where you want to go.
Therefore to be constant and hardworking every day, to maintain healthy habits of life either in food or in mental clarity, as well as in a good rest. These are fundamental things that have helped me a lot to improve my level as an athlete.
Christian: Is mental clarity is something that you trained yourself or do you also have help from a psychologist?
Rubén: It’s not given to me by nature, I discovered it based on a lot of work with my sports psychologist. I remember that I had problems competing. I did not perform at the same level as when I was training, because I was not able to control my mind and let external variables in my head, that did not depend on myself. So what they did was harm me in my performance, they would not let me get the best version of myself.
It’s not given to me by nature, I discovered it based on a lot of work with my sports psychologist.
I’ve been working with the psychologist with many different techniques of concentration, how to deal with a visualization error, relaxation, are techniques that we have been practicing for many years and I have internalized. Not only do I apply them just in sports, but I apply them in my day by day life.
And when I speak of mental clarity I speak of this: the knowledge that today I woke up and my goals are these, that I am calm and I know at every moment what I have to do, that I have everything under control and I know that it will go as I want it to go, because I will do everything possible to get it out as I want. It is like an active optimistic mind and very focused on what you want.
Christian: Interesting, then mental clarity is also a result of training with many repetitions.
Rubén: Exactly, the training is not only about the body, but it is also about the mind. Right now, I could be out of this room, sitting in a chair with my eyes closed doing a relaxation. I have selected what it is, what I want to imagine and start imagining a specific element, for example in rings or a specific bar exercise, and what seems to be nonsense has an impact at a physiological level, it is as if your body is doing it. So the connections created in the brain, those paths are reinforced and each time they get wider, so when it comes to practicing, for real, it is like if in your mind has already done it before.
What seems to be nonsense has an impact at a physiological level, it is as if your body is doing it. So when it comes to practicing, for real, it is like if in your mind has already done it before.
What I mean with mental clarity, it is much more fluid and you say “Yes, I have already been here and I’ve already done it.” It is like your body does it automatically, but that’s a lot of training hours after the gym in which those techniques are practiced, so sometimes when you see an athlete you only see the training hours, but it is not the 6 hours that you enter here, and then go out. It is the hours that you sleep, the hours that you have to go to the osteopath, physio or the physical trainer, the hours you have to go to the psychologist for the mental training, it’s a whole life focused on this.
Rubén: I even believe, that the mind sometimes is much more important, at least in gymnastics. In my opinion, it is more important than physical training. If you see clearly that you can do it, It’s like it gives you a plus, extra energy, and explosiveness, that makes you do it. If you are doubting before going to the gym thinking: “How can I face it?” or “How can I do it?” For sure that you will not get it, because in your preparation before, what you think, conditions what you do during the execution.
What you think in your preparation before, conditions what you do during the execution.
If before you are clear and motivated: “I’m going for it! I’m sure. I’m convinced that it will come out.” But if there are doubts before, when it comes to doing it, there will be problems.
Rubén‘s morning routine
Christian: Do you have a routine in the morning?
Rubén: The morning routine is something, that I have been acquiring over time, nobody has a set pattern, like you must do this and this. But with my own experience and what I have been reading – because I really like to read about sports psychology, self-help books, motivation, certain coaches and other athletes – I’ve been adjusting my routine and what goes well for me before coming to training.
I like to wake up pretty early, at least 2.5 hours before training and get up quietly. I take my foam roller to do my stretches and stretch all the joints, it’s like a small yoga session, not a real training session. Then I do a meditation for about 10 – 15 minutes relaxed without thinking about anything, being concentrated in my body, breathing quietly and then I have a ritual that I always have with the same breakfast.
I wake up pretty early, I do my stretches, I do meditation and then I have breakfast.
After I finish the meditation, I directly make my breakfast, which is a bowl with oatmeal, vegetable protein with seeds, and vegetable milk. A bowl that has everything, I eat that and I’m not hungry until 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I eat it at 9 o’clock in the morning. It helps me not only to feel better when I’m going to start training because my body is active, but it also helps me to focus on “Okay! now we start the day and now we are going for the objectives of today”.
How to prepare for important moments
Christian: How do you prepare for the important moments?
Rubén: My preparation starts every day with the morning routine, we just talked about. I can’t skip it, because it is what puts me on the starting line to begin the day, only after that, I am ready for training. We start training at 11:00 in the morning and we train from 11 am to 2 pm, that is the first training session.
My preparation starts every day with the morning routine, I can’t skip it, because it is what puts me on the starting line to begin the day.
In that session there is specific physical preparation work for gymnastics, there is technical work on the apparatus, and there is more general physical preparation work to prevent injuries, to strengthen the joints, and flexibility or stretching.
I finish the training around 2 pm, then I go and eat lunch. Between 2 pm and 6 pm, I need to rest, eat, go to the physio, to the osteopath and do my psychological and mental work. At 6 pm, I come back to the gym and return to the same regimen as in the morning, my physical preparation work, my technical work on the devices and my stretches for flexibility.
This is the normal routine that we maintain throughout the year but when important competitions are approaching. Obviously, the intensity within these two training sessions is higher, instead of making separate elements we make a greater amount of combined elements so that it appears more and more to the composition of the complete exercise. Then there are three days a week in which we do an internal simulation of competition in which we do the six devices, a complete exercise on each device. The routine is always the same, the only thing that varies is the intensity of the work we do in the gymnastics room.
Christian: And for example for very important moments like the Olympic Games, how do you prepare? If you know that in 3 hours you need to compete, what do you do on the day?
Rubén: Well, at first, to prepare for an important competition, whether World Championships or Olympic Games, we join the entire national team and train altogether, because the competitions apart from individual competitions are also team competitions. We train altogether and do what I have told you, simulations of competition as if we were in the competition.
The day of the competition is a day when obviously there is a certain tension because everyone is a little bit nervous because he wants to do his best. If we compete in the afternoon, it is a bit ‘lighter’ in the morning. We do a light training session, each athlete more or less knows, what he needs to do in order to feel good in the competition in the afternoon.
At mealtime, we try to eat enough carbohydrates, a bit of protein to have enough energy in the afternoon. During noon we relax, that can be a little nap for 30 or 45 minutes and then we go to the pavilion.
Before the competition, there is a warm-up time in another room, which is not the competition room. The only goal is to activate your body and get going to face the competition, where you not only activate yourself on physical level and on mental level too, so that your mind is already getting into “We are here, this is the time, we will do what we have trained for.” and then we go to the competition.
How to overcome setbacks
Christian: How do you overcome the setbacks?
Rubén: I am a person who, in the face of adversity, grows. If there is something, that is under my control and it is not coming out as I want, and they say to me: “You are not at the level where you have to be, you cannot go to this competition.” I get an internal fire that says “You’re not going to say that to me again, and you’ll know that you’re wrong for not taking me to that competition and now I’m going to show you, that you have to take me.” I train harder and stronger because I want to show that the person who decided that has been wrong and that what he is doing is not the right thing to do.
I am a person who, in the face of adversity, grows. I train harder and stronger.
In contrast to things that I cannot control, that can be injuries or anything else that may arise in the day to day life of an athlete, at the beginning it is difficult because it is an obstacle that you find yourself confronted with. It is what we have spoken before and you do not know how to get around it, you do not know how to deal with that situation. Then little by little, with time, you will see how it evolves and maybe you will see alternative paths which you can go.
- Also, check out the interviews with Silver Medalist 2016 Matthijs Büchli and Olympic Coach Bas de Bever, both explain, that if one particular path doesn’t lead to the desired goal, they always look for alternative paths to ultimately get to their goal.
Always in the face of adversity or a difficult situation, I try to rely a lot on my partner and my family and ask them for advice. Asking them how they see it from their point of view, how can I face it, because sometimes you are so involved that you are a bit blocked and cannot see. In change a trustworthy person from the outside, may well be your partner, can be your family, can see from another perspective and you can say “Do not worry about this, it is not so serious as you see it. Try to face it here, try to go through here,…” and many times they themselves help me with their advice.
Sometimes you are so involved that you are a bit blocked and cannot see. In change, a trustworthy person from the outside, can see from another perspective and can help with their advice.
I also try to support myself a lot with the help of my sports psychologist, because for me he is not only a psychologist, for me he is like a friend to whom I can tell anything, and his advice during all these 20 years of sports career as a high-level sportsman have helped me so much. All the techniques that he can show me to be more relaxed, being less irritated or to face with less negativism and more positivism, all those techniques that can tell me help me a lot and support me a lot.
Christian: I have a question. If you ask for advice from your family or your partner, sometimes this advice can also be an advice you don’t necessarily want to do. How do you separate between “I take this advice or I reject this advice.”?
Rubén: Sometimes we can hear things, that do not fit with what we have thought that person was going to tell us. But I think that we do not have to take the advice of other people as a universal law, maybe they give me some advice, but I do not have to take it as if this advice was the absolute truth and it is the only one that is going to help me to fix this situation. I have to take it as your point of view and ask another person, like my father for example or my partner. And among all those bits of advice that they give to me, I draw my own conclusion. But not to take directly a piece of advice and say “Ok, this is what it is and it must be, and if I do not do this it will not solve the problem,…”
We do not have to take the advice of other people as a universal law as if it is the absolute truth. I have to take it as their point of view and draw my own conclusion.
Not only is there one way to solve the problem, but there are also many, so what I try is that the opinions, the pieces of advice, are opinions and pieces of advice of other people and not my own. Depending on what they say, sometimes in your brain, the light bulb goes on and you say “Ok, between this and this I have to go around here,…” and it ends up solving it. Even though I listen to something that maybe I do not like it or that I think it was not what I expected of that person, sometimes that makes you wake up and say “I have it!”.
Christian: Then it is the collection of pieces of advice and you are choosing what works for you.
Rubén: Exactly the collection of tips from people of your confidence, that contribute much to your life. You do not have to take the advice of everyone, because there are many people out there who maybe do not want the best for you. Then you know, that it would not be the advice he would apply to himself and he is advising you because he does not want you to achieve your goals. Do not trust everyone, stay with your circle of maximum confidence, is what I try to do.
Do not trust everyone, stay with your circle of maximum confidence.
Christian: You’re right.
Rubén’s role model
Christian: Do you have a role model or hero?
Rubén: I remember, when I was little and came here, to the high-performance center, to train, I must have been about 12 years old, and there was a World Championship. My favorite device is the parallel bars, it is the one I like to practice the most and in which I work best. I remember the final of the World Parallel Championships recorded and watching the complete final every day in my house because there was a Chinese guy who did a spectacular exercise and for me, he became like my idol. I wanted to achieve what he was doing and in the way, as he was doing it.
I do not have a specific idol, but I do like to look at all those people who are successful, who get what they have set out for themselves and try to get the best out of them.
I do not have a specific idol, but I do like to look at all those people who are successful, who get what they have set out for themselves and try to get the best out of them.
I look at how they work, how they think, what they do in their daily routine. I like it a lot to analyze people who have a passion for what they do, whether it’s in sports or in another aspect of life. You quickly grasp that, that the person really likes what he is doing and is putting all their effort into it. If I see a person like this, or if it’s a superstar that I cannot speak to personally, I try to read about him or read a book about him, to learn how he thinks and what he does to have that level of success. So I could not tell you a specific person, but I can look at this whole group of people who work very hard for their goals.
Christian: Who are these people? Give me an example.
Rubén: An example could be Rafael Nadal, the tennis player. He is a person who maybe does not have the same qualities as Roger Federer, but he is a person who works hard to be at the level he is. Nobody has given him anything, but he has worked more than anyone for sure. Roger Federer has also worked a lot, however, his technique is so good and he has his innate qualities that maybe make it a little easier.
Christian: Rafa is my idol. I was in Wimbledon in 2008 watching live how he won Wimbledon against Federer. That was a historic moment.
Rubén: It is not only the successes or the results, you see it when he trains and competes, that he is leaving everything he has on the court. You know, he is delivering everything he has, so that is what I value a lot of a person. More examples that can tell you now that come to mind? I find it hard to think of someone, that I have very clear, but I could not tell you right now about anyone else.
Christian: We have a very good example.
The best advice he has received
Christian: What is the best advice you have received?
Rubén: The best advice? I think the best advice has not been given to me with words but by example, my parents have a gym for 34 years now, it is a fitness gym very close to the place where I train. My father had a dream, he wanted to open his own gym, because he loved the sport, so he did not care what others said. He was clear, that he wanted that and started to open a small gym in which he taught karate because he has always worked in the martial arts, he is a teacher, so he started with it.
The best advice has not been given to me with words but by example. My father had a dream, he was clear on what he wanted and he did.
Many people said “You’re crazy getting into this! It’s a lot of money and you have start from scratch! You do not know what kind of people you’re going to find!” But he had it so clear, that’s what we talked about before the vision, they started like this with a small gym and that grew over time. People liked it, and there were more and more people, so that gym was getting too small so they moved to another little bit bigger gym,. Over time also this gym became too small, and now we have another much larger than 1200 square meters today, and I hope it continues like this.
It works very well and all that is not thanks to my parents being gurus of the fitness business world, but it has been based on work. They were the ones who opened every morning, they were the ones giving the classes, they were the ones who attended the reception, they were the ones who cleaned and they did everything. So maybe they have never told me how I should do things, but I have seen in my house how they do it. I have seen what we talked about before, that with a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and perseverance, daily, daily, daily you can get what you want.
With a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and perseverance, daily, daily, daily, you can get what you want.
Christian: So your parents were also a role model for you because you know, they worked every day and they became successful.
Rubén: Exactly, I think that’s why I concentrate and admire people, who work hard every day and feel passion for what they do so much. Because if you really do not love and do not want what you’re doing, it is impossible to make certain efforts and if you do not make certain efforts you will never be up there. So I believe, that ever since I was a kid, I have seen those great efforts, that work that my parents have done, and that is why I feel so identified with working hard. For me, I admire people who work, who sacrifice themselves and who are very clear about what they want.
A typical day in the life of a gymnast
Christian: You mentioned this a little bit before, but how does a normal training day for a gymnast look like? What’s a normal training day?
Rubén: A normal day for me, I train from Monday to Saturday every day two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, except on Thursdays and Saturdays, where we only do one session in the morning and in the afternoon we rest. So for me a normal day is: I get up at 8:00 am, I do the morning routine that can last me about an hour, my stretches, my relaxation, my meditation, my breakfast, then I come here to the CAR [centro de alto rendimiento = high-performance center] and I start training at 11 in the morning to 2:00 in the afternoon, 3 hours. The first part of the training is 45 minutes of warm-up plus work of specific physical preparation of Olympic gymnastics: work for strength in rings, abdominal, lumbar, that is to say, specific exercises, not general exercises.
Then we go to the apparatus, in the morning we make three apparatus one of support, which can be parallel bars or horse with bows, one of suspension, of hanging, which can be rings or bars and one for the legs, that can be floor or jump. When we have finished the work in this apparatus, we do technical elements, either part of exercises from complete exercises. Depending on the phase of the season in which we are, we go again to physical preparation, but this physical preparation is more focused on the strength of rings, strength positions, such as the ‘christ’, ‘multis’, all that type of positions, focused work to gain strength. When we have finished this work, we do half an hour of stretching and the training is finished in the morning.
After the morning training, I will eat here in the center of high performance, we have a dining room, so, I will eat there and then depending on the day, I sometimes go to the physio. If that day I have treatment with the physiotherapist, I do not go home. I rest a little, I do my psychological work or other tasks I have to do.
And at 6:00 I go back to the gym: the same as in the morning, the first half hour warm up and a little bit of physical preparation, then the other three devices that we did not do in the morning, and then do either a strength training with weights or a more general work, like a circuit of resistance depending on the day and type of work.
At 9:00 or 9:15 the second training ends and from there I go home, have dinner and I have no energy for nothing else so I go to sleep.
Christian: Cool, very good and clear description of your day.
Rubén‘s interview nomination
Christian: Do you want to nominate someone for an interview?
Rubén: Well, I’m going to shoot for the world of gymnastics, and I nominate Néstor Abad to be interviewed. He is another gymnast, who has been amazing at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, and is a colleague mine and trains in the CAR (High Performance Center) of Madrid, so if there is a possibility you can interview him.
Christian: then I’ll have to go to Madrid.
Christian: No problem, I studied in Madrid, in love Madrid!
Where can you find Rubén Lopéz
Christian: Where can people find you?
Rubén: For all those who are interested in seeing how a high-level sportsman trains, how a gymnast trains, what his day-to-day life is like, what he does in his spare time, they can enter my YouTube channel which is ‘Warmaxinso’.
There you will find strength movement tutorials, tutorials to do flexibility workouts, from physical preparation to how we live, impressions from within a competition. There I have more than 100 videos, every Thursday I upload a video to the channel.
And apart from that, I am most active on Instagram, there you will also be able to follow me closely and see how I train every day and what I do every day.
Christian: Ok, very good. Many thanks.
Rubén: Thank you! It was a pleasure!