Laurie Hernandez: I Wasn’t Expecting ‘Dancing With the Stars’ to Be This Hard

Laurie Hernandez
Laurie Hernandez on October 5, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

Olympian Laurie Hernandez is blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about her quest to take home the Dancing With the Stars season 23 mirrorball trophy! Check back each week for her latest update on the competition.

I’m feeling good and I’m excited for this week, because we have a group dance on top of our own dance, so that’ll be fun and stressful at the same time. We haven’t really figured out how we’ll rehearse the group number since we’ll continue to travel with my tour, but we had our first group rehearsal right after the show on Monday night. Our group is me, Jana, Terra and Marilu. We’re “Team Future” — next week’s theme is “Eras” so it’s all about different periods of time. Jana’s always traveling, I’m traveling, so it’ll be interesting to see how this all comes together.

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It’s cool to dance as a group because everyone’s different. It’s weird to see how creative everyone can be from different views and perspectives instead of just Val’s. It’s a great thing to have so many good ideas, but at the same time there’s so many cooks in the kitchen! The first hour of us trying to figure out the dance was literally just the male pros talking! And all of us girls just hung out, stressing out. We were like, “Why can’t we just start something?!” But it’s all going to work out in the end … I hope!

We’re doing a 1960s-themed quickstep this week for our solo dance. Sometimes rehearsal is frustrating because I wish I could get the steps down a little faster even though everyone’s telling me I get the steps down faster than anyone else. It’s kind of weird to hear that, but at the same time, the steps aren’t easy! 

Coming into Dancing With the Stars, I thought it would be a lot easier. I didn’t think it would be just a breeze, I knew it would be difficult, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this hard. It’s really hard to stay patient with myself and realize this is a whole different world than gymnastics.

Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

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The judges’ criticism is helpful, but at the same time, each week is a different dance so I can’t always apply their advice. It’s interesting that they’re telling me they’re judging me like a pro, because I want to say, “I’m not a professional dancer, but OK! If you want to judge that hard, you can!” But it’s all good. And it’s nice that they think I can live up to their expectations and dance at the high level that they want me to.

I’ve been touring with Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin, who both did the show before, and they assured me that they both cried at points during their seasons, so that did make me feel a little bit better. It was pretty nice to know I wasn’t the only one who felt awkward trying to dance a sexy salsa!

It’s funny on the gymnastics tour — sometimes I’ll be standing to the side on the floor running through my dance that Val gave me while everyone warms up. Since I’ve spent so much time training with the other girls, it’s nice to come back and be able to share my experiences with them. We don’t have much downtime — we just have a little time to play music and talk and catch up when we’re on the bus rides from show to show, but sometimes we just sleep since that’s the only chance we have to get some rest!

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After Dancing is over, I would love to take a vacation. The past two vacations that my family went on, I stayed home so that I could train. So I would love to go somewhere with my family. If I could go anywhere, I’d love to visit Greece someday because it looks so beautiful, and I’d also love to go to Mexico. But then I might need a whole week off – or maybe two! We’ll see!

Watch Dancing With the Stars Monday, October 24, on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

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