Rita Wieber: Life of a Gym Mom
Gym Mom is made up of Rita Wieber's experiences and tips for raising an athlete.
Rita Wieber, the multitasking mother of Olympian Jordyn Wieber, was the guest speaker at the National Association of Career Women luncheon Wednesday. Author of the new book Gym Mom, Wieber shared her secrets and stories of life as a mother of a World Champion gymnast.
When daughter Jordyn began participating in gymnastics at the age of five in 2000, "everything changed," according to her mother.
Growing up, Rita Wieber was also involved in gymnastics, but admits the only event she could participate in was the vault. A broken toe stopped her from continuing, so she didn't know what to expect from her daughter's involvement in the sport.
When Jordyn started, she was practicing for nine hours a week, but that didn't last for long.
"In a few short years, [Jordyn] was doing 30 hours a week," says Wieber. "There's no 'off season' like in other sports. Your hands get soft after two days off. Others in the sport look down on those who take that time off."
Eventually, the Wieber family was splitting up for meets and vacations, with Rita accompanying Jordyn to events.
"It was our new normal, and people were judgmental of that," she says.
Rita Wieber says that Jordyn was always intense as a child, and that intensity and focus eventually helped her in the sport of gymnastics.
By the age of 10, Jordyn was at the Elite level - the level at which gymnasts can be considered for the Olympic Games. The goal of reaching an Olympics became real to the family when Jordyn reached that level.
"Most kids make it to that level at 13 or 14," explains Wieber.
At that level, the U.S. Olympic Committee gives funding to the top gymnasts. Jordyn Wieber has had her expenses funded for the last several years, but as her mother explains, that's where the assistance ends.
"I could go on trips with her, but I had to pay. Our expenses as a family to attend events were not covered."
When Jordyn was heading to London for the 2012 Olympic Games, the community of DeWitt and other Wieber supporters pulled together to help fund the Wieber family's trip to London.
Rita says she doesn't know how Jordyn handled the pressure of appearing in the Olympics, and calls Jordyn's team gold medal win "the moment of a lifetime." The win was especially sweet following the disappointment of missing the all-around competition, a moment Rita Wieber says she's never watched or seen - other than photos.
As a "gym mom," Wieber says that the sport taught her daughter dedication, work ethic, and how to compete - even against your friends. Fellow U.S. Women's Gymnastics teammate and close friend Aly Raisman beat out Wieber to compete in the all-around.
Now that the Olympics have come and gone, Jordyn is focused on participating in the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, and Rita confirmed at the luncheon that Jordyn will be in the Teen Choice Live Tour, along with Gabby Douglas and Raisman.
With Jordyn on the road, Rita Wieber is focused on her family as well as her many new ventures, including starting a new business, promoting her book Gym Mom, working as a spin instructor at the Y, and teaching at LCC.
When it comes to drive, it's safe to say: like mother, like daughter.