The London Olympics are now just over a year away, and if gymnastics great Dominique Dawes has her way, the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team will win gold and “people will stop talking about the Magnificent Seven.”
That name, of course, was bestowed on Dawes and her teammates, the gold medal-winning team of the 1996 Summer Olympics. Now, she says, “These young athletes are quite talented and the tricks they’re doing are really impressive. I suppose that when I see them perform, I feel the same way Nadia Comaneci must have felt when she watched us.”
But, forget about the Magnificent Seven? “Oh, yes,” she affirms. “I believe it’s the mark of a good leader to want your successors to surpass you.”
The beautiful, well-spoken Dawes says she’d love to do on-air commentary for the London games. “The sport is my first passion,” she notes. But her other passion is at the forefront nowadays — pushing toward a national fitness revolution. She’s often at the White House, in fact, in her role as co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) — and as a celebrity booster of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity.
This week, Dawes is working to get people signed up for the six-week, online Get Moving Now fitness program that starts Monday (7/11). It’s a joint project of the PCFSN and iVillage, the largest content-driven community for women online (claiming more than 30 million unique visitors per month), which is itself part of NBC-Universal. Sign-ups are live now at www.ivillage.com/getmoving.
Dawes is among the guest coaches, along with runner Allyson Felix, ice skater Michelle Kwan, NBA star Grant Hill, and Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback who is also Dawes’ PCFSN co-chair. Overseeing it all is Challenge Coach Cornell McClellan of the PCFSN, who is also the Obama family’s personal trainer. According to Dawes, he’ll be going live online to answer participants’ questions.
Those who sign up will receive daily emails providing workout assignments and wellness tips as well as having access to around-the-clock support and motivation from the iVillage community. The free program includes the chance to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) certificate, signed by Drew and herself.
Having spoken to the First Lady about the challenges of overcoming childhood obesity in this country, Dawes says Mrs. Obama recognizes there can be no quick fixes. She agrees. “I do think the results are going to be measurable in a matter of years, within a generation. It will take a great deal of time because it’s not about losing a couple of pounds here and there. It’s about a lifestyle change, not something you do once in a while. One thing the First Lady has quite wisely gotten involved with is the school systems. Teaching about good nutrition and making wise food choices can’t take hold if the schools are full of junk food and soda.”
And by the way, Michelle really is fit, says Dawes, who admits to envying the First Lady’s arms. “Are you kidding? I always wear sleeves around her.”