Here’s something you already knew: It’s hot out there! And here’s something you may not know: Dehydration is a serious problem — and actually pretty common. That’s why gymnast Katelyn Ohashi joined Gatorade’s 15th annual “Beat the Heat” program, which teaches young athletes about how important it is to stay hydrated during these steamy summer months. The champion gymnast who competed for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and won an ESPY Award for the Best Viral Sports Moment of 2019, was featured along with some of the biggest athletes in the world — including Serena Williams, Peyton Manning and J.J. Watt — in Gatorade’s 2020 “Beat the Heat” calendar and commercial. Ohashi tells SheKnows all about it:
SheKnows: Why did you decide to join the “Beat the Heat” program?
Katelyn Ohashi: I share a lot of issues using my platform and this was another way to add on to something that is extremely important, to not just athletes, but everyone. I think sometimes we take water and Gatorade and hydration for granted. This was really cool to have such a diverse group of people, from all different shapes and sizes and all different sports, indoor and outdoor.
SK: Why is it so important for not just athletes but everyone to stay hydrated, especially during the hot summer months?
KO: Because we lose a lot through our sweat and it’s not just water. We do need those electrolytes, sodium, and potassium to rejuvenate our bodies. It’s also important to not get sick, to not over-hydrate, and to not pass out.
SK: What was it like joining some of the world’s biggest athletes for the campaign?
KO: We are all in the commercial for a reason. Our busy schedules did prohibit us from all being able to film together, but honestly just knowing that they were in the commercial and getting to see their parts before I did mine and where I fit in was really exciting. With Serena Williams, I’m all about women in sports, so that was something huge to see.
SK: What was your favorite part of shooting the campaign?
KO: The whole time I felt so comfortable. Sometimes on set you’ll be intimidated, or things like that. That was the first time I’ve been in front of the camera talking like that and got handed a script. The whole entire staff made me feel welcome. It was cool and it was a fun challenge to experience something new.
SK: Did you learn anything new about hydration from the program?
KO: It’s extremely important not to just hydrate while you’re practicing but before and after, and make sure that it’s all the time, and to dress for weather, using light colors. If you’re not feeling well speak up immediately. That’s something for everyone to hear. Listen to your body because you know what’s best.
SK: Did you ever expect your UCLA competition video would go viral?
KO: The thing with the internet is it’s never predicable — you never know what’s going to catch and what’s not. Having my routine become that big and having that many people see it was just incredible. My team went viral my junior year and it got like 80 million views but this time there was something different about it: the types of people that saw it and the opportunities that came from it. People wanted to hear my message. Speaking up is really important to me because I found that using my voice has helped me experience joy again in gymnastics and understand what I’m really feeling so all of these things go hand in hand together.
SK: What issues are most important to you that you want to bring more attention to?
KO: Obviously being a part of this, staying hydrated. I’m a huge advocate for [combating] body shaming and homelessness and domestic violence. I want to [do] more work with domestic violence survivors and women’s empowerment all the way.
SK: Tell us about your battle for body positivity.
KO: It’s important to me because I started experiencing body shaming at a really young age, like 14. I went through a really hard time with that. It felt like there was no escaping and then you start telling yourself all the words that everyone around you told you. By sharing my message, I realized how many other people, and from so many different demographics — men, women, old, young, in sports, out of sports — all these people were reaching out and could relate to the message, and that shows you how important it is. How I practice body positivity is you have to be really solidified with who you are. If you have this many eyes on you not all of it’s going to be positive so I still experience it on online and that just comes with social media. Anyone can say whatever they want without having any repercussions because it’s never a face-to-face interaction. Really embrace all the things you might see as flaws right now, working on that and almost making them become of the most favorite things about you. My legs might not be the smallest things ever, but they allow me to do such incredible things and I’m so grateful to even have them because not everyone has the blessings that we are given. To hate ourselves when we’re stuck in our skin and we are the only ones who should have our backs, I just think it’s so important to love yourself so deeply.