Book Review: “Winning Balance” by Shawn Johnson

I have always admired gymnasts and even wanted to be one when I was very young. I remember watching Shannon Miller and Kerri Strug compete in the Olympics and I was always in awe of their capabilities. Before reading this book, however, I had NO idea what it takes to get to that level–both physically and mentally.

Shawn Johnson is a national and world champion and earned 4 Olympic medals in Beijing in 2008 at the age of 16. Her book, Winning Balance, is like reading her journal with some hindsight thrown in as well. She speaks with honesty and humility about what her life has been like and acknowledges those who have helped her achieve the great success that she has enjoyed. She also discusses her failures, her struggles, and how her faith in God helped to shape her into the young woman she is today. She has a healthy confidence in her abilities and it never came across as arrogant–she knows what God has created her to do, and she does it well!

The major lesson throughout the book is about finding a balance in life. I really admire her parents for never forcing or pushing her to do gymnastics, and for always ensuring that she had a balanced life. Yes, she spent hours in the gym, but she was also a typical student who participated in school activities. Her parents emphasized that there has to be something else in her life besides gymnastics because she won’t be able to be a gymnast forever. Such wise advice! And Shawn proved this week that she has taken the advice to heart when she announced yesterday that she is retiring from gymnastics. She realized that she could continue to press her knee (which isn’t doing well) only to have serious problems later, or she can walk away from the sport and discover a new life outside of gymnastics that will allow her knee to heal. While I’m sad that she won’t be competing in London, I really admire her wisdom in this decision.

I really enjoyed reading about her journey toward the Olympics and I have a newfound appreciation for gymnasts in particular. I loved how she talked about what was going through her mind before each competition and how easy it can be to lose your focus and concentration–which is why “staying in the game” is so vital to success.

Shawn has experienced more in her first twenty years than a majority of people will experience throughout their lifetime. And through it all, she has learned valuable life lessons that she is not only using in her own life, but in the lives of others as well. I highly recommend this book!  The book is being released today (June 5th)–go buy it today!

Read the first chapter here.

Here’s a link to the book’s website:  

You can see a short video trailer about the book here:

 I received this book from Tyndale Momentum for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

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