Failure is Part of the Process—with Gymnastics Legend Christopher LaMorte – EP105

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What is the secret ingredient of success and achievement? According to Christopher LaMorte, the key is understanding that failure is part of the process. And he contends that gymnastics parallels life in that you keep trying and failing at each new skill until one day, it works. Success isn’t about being perfect. It’s about not giving up.




Chris is a legend in men’s gymnastics, dominating both national and international competitions throughout his career. Born and raised on Long Island, he was a four-time New York State rings champion. He took first in rings at the NCAA National Championships as a freshman and sophomore on full scholarship at the University of New Mexico before competing in the 1996 World Championships. Chris was also a gold medalist at the 1998 Goodwill Games and ranked #1 in the US in rings from 1992 through 1999.

Today, Chris joins us to share his gymnastics journey, from taking classes to recover from pneumonia as a child to competing in the World Championships with a serious shoulder injury. He walks us through his career highlights, including a remarkable experience competing against one of his heroes at his first national competition—and winning! Chris also opens up about the reality of dealing with injuries and the pressure of high-level competition. Listen in for insight on transitioning from elite athlete to a ‘regular job’ and learn how gymnastics can prepare you for other sports—and life in general!

Topics Covered

[1:41] How Chris got into gymnastics

  • Very sick child, parents enrolled to get moving
  • Coaching and competing for 30+ years
[3:19] When Chris started to get serious about gymnastics

  • First competition at 9 (naturally strong but poor form)
  • ‘More real’ in high school, state champion in rings
[5:03] What Chris’ gymnastics training looked like

  • 4-8pm 5x/week
[6:03] Chris’ first national competition

  • Youngest person at Rocky Mountain Open
  • Won rings competing against Paul O’Neill
[9:28] The benefit of a full scholarship to college

  • Books, room + board and tuition covered
  • Must maintain athletic, academic performance
[11:49] Chris’ disappointing experience at the World Championships

  • First shoulder injury of career two weeks before competition
  • Worked through pain to place fifth
[14:26] Chris’ surprising comeback in the Goodwill Games

  • Moved on to other things but continued to train
  • Won rings at USA trial and in Goodwill Games
[17:11] The injuries Chris sustained in his gymnastics career

  • Multiple surgeries on left wrist, left shoulder + right ankle
  • Three to four concussions
[18:24] Chris’ advice around preventing injury in gymnastics

  • Good coach can help avoid (spotting techniques)
  • Injuries come with territory at high level
[20:48] Why Chris favors gymnastics over other sports

  • Always another skill to add
  • Sense of accomplishment
[21:47] How Chris learned to deal with the pressure of competition

  • Mindset shift to view spectators + judges as ‘fluff’
  • Generate nerves in practice so nothing different
[24:37] The parallels between life and gymnastics

  • Failure is part of the process
  • Discipline to keep trying until it works
[28:04] Why athletes struggle with the transition to a ‘real job’

  • Feel lost, nothing compares to thrill of competition
  • ‘High-level athletes die twice’
[31:06] Chris’ positive experience with gymnastics coaches

  • Made him who he is today (along with parents)
  • Never felt pressure to live their dreams
[34:19] Chris’ transition from athlete to coach to judge

  • Teaching and coaching comes naturally
  • Just started judging, no abuse yet
[37:10] Chris’ insight on nutrition in competitive gymnastics

  • ‘Common sense eating’ (coaches not strict)
  • Different for women, berated for gaining weight
[40:58] Chris’ training routine today

  • Weight training five days/week
  • Body feels better with consistent workout
[42:32] Chris’ best advice for athletes

  • Compete against yourself
  • Strength + flexibility of gymnastics translates to any sport

Learn More About Christopher LaMorte

Chris’ Profile at USA Gymnastics

Transform GST Team


Paul O’Neill

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