Capstone Introduction

Gymnastics is a highly competitive sport made up of graceful and powerful athletes who will risk almost anything to feel the podium under their feet and the weight of a medal around their neck. However, the trail to glory is filled with obstacles so physically and mentally draining that few achieve their highest hopes. Gymnastics is a subjectively judged sport where performance is scrutinized in all aspects including physical appearance. Highly competitive gymnastics facilities have created a stressful environment for athletes to perform, look, and weigh a certain way. This pressure can come in the form of verbal and mental harassment which can lead to long lasting repercussions such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. As the number of eating disorders in the gymnastics community increases, more athletes are going to have unhealthy nutritional habits that will be prevalent long after their gymnastics careers are over. Growing up in a highly competitive environment can produce multiple sources of pressure from coaches, judges, teammates, school, home, social media, to personal pressure which can radiate into eating disorders. The athletes who develop eating disorders endure direct pressure from multiple aspects of life and indirect pressure that is perceived through extreme fear of negative judgment which lead to unhealthy nutritional habits such as anorexia and bulimia.