By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Media Services
Celebrity Travel by Jae-Ha Kim
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
As the captain of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aly Raisman led the squad -- dubbed the Fierce Five -- to its gold medal in the team competition. She also won an individual gold medal in the floor exercise, as well as a bronze medal on the balance beam. Today, the 18-year-old gymnast is looking to add a mirror ball trophy to her collection of awards as she competes on "Dancing with the Stars." Currently residing in Los Angeles, Raisman says one of the things she's enjoying about the city is everyone's quest for a healthy lifestyle. Fans may follow her on Twitter (at)alyraisman.
Q. You grew up in Needham, Mass. How do you like Los Angeles?
A. I am very far away from home, but I'm having so much fun in L.A., because the weather is beautiful here. And everyone on "Dancing with the Stars" is so nice and friendly. I also love how everyone here is so into eating healthy. I have been trying a lot of juices and staying hydrated by drinking lots of water.
Q. Where was your first international gymnastics meet?
A. My first international gymnastics meet was in Brazil. I was 15 years old and I had always dreamed of representing the United States of America. So, it was very exciting! I was so thrilled and literally jumping for joy when I found out I was going to compete. It was so surreal that my dreams were beginning to come true. I finished third in the all around, and got first on floor and vault. I was so happy with my results.
Q. Would you like to return to Brazil?
A. The 2016 Olympics are in Brazil, so I would love to go back. I think it would be so special to have started my career in Brazil and to end it there in 2016.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. I just went on a week's vacation to Mexico with my family. It was my first vacation ever really. I never had time to go before, because I wasn't allowed to miss practice!
Q. What are some of the things you enjoyed doing in Mexico?
A. I loved sitting by the pool and swimming in the ocean. We would stay outside all day and get tan. It was awesome! The resort we stayed at was called Villa la Estancia Resort and Spa in Nayarit, Mexico, and it was really amazing. Everyone there is so nice and the weather is beautiful. It meant so much to me to be able to spend time with my family.
Q. Is having access to a gym important to you when you're not traveling for gymnastics?
A. Yes. I love working out. I feel weird if I go a day without working out. When I work out, I feel really good for the rest of the day. I love the feeling of accomplishment. Going to sleep every night and knowing that I made a small improvement, or that I worked hard at something -- that's something that motivates me each and every day. It's always important for me to set goals.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child? And did you love it ... or not so much?
A. We used to go to Disney World when I was younger and I loved it.
Q. Do you have any unhappy memories from the Happiest Place on Earth?
A. I actually remember crying on the Tower of Terror ride because I was so young and it was so scary for me. But other than that, I loved going on the rides.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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