Laurie Hernandez gave Simone Biles one key piece of advice for “Dancing with the Stars.”
Take care of your feet.
Biles won’t forget that after leaving with blisters following her first practice with partner Sasha Farber on Thursday.
“My feet are like torn up,” the four-time 2016 Olympic gymnastics champion said Friday from Texas, where she was participating in Kellogg’s Buckets for Breakfast Challenge to raise money and awareness to end child hunger.
Biles is rehearsing for “Dancing with the Stars” near her Texas home for now, but plans to shift to Los Angeles soon. Hopefully, by then, the foot problems will be behind her.
For Biles’ first session, Farber said he would re-teach her “how to walk like a baby.”
“I was like, yeah, right, but that’s literally what we did,” Biles said. “We spent 15 minutes walking across the dance room. I was like, is this for real? Like, real life? But it’s a different technique and different style, so it’s a little bit harder.”
Biles’ feet started hurting before the practice ended, but she chose not to tell Farber.
“Tell Sasha,” Biles said Hernandez advised her, “and then wear tennis shoes the rest of the practice. If not, your feet will hurt the next day, and it’s just going to get worse.”
It marked a rare misstep for Biles, who is on a break from gymnastics this year after training in that sport since age 6. All four of the previous gymnasts on “Dancing with the Stars” finished in the top four, including winners Shawn Johnson and Hernandez.
Biles said she was invited to compete on the show last summer but had already committed to a nationwide USA Gymnastics post-Olympic tour. Unlike Hernandez, Biles said she couldn’t juggle both sets of shows.
Biles knew that after the gymnastics tour ended, she would tuck away her skills for all of 2017. She needed a rest, and that thought was reinforced by what happened with about eight or nine shows left.
At one tour stop, Biles felt her midsection crack while performing her eponymous skill on floor exercise, the Biles, or a double layout with a half-twist.
“I couldn’t breathe for a second. It knocked the wind out of me,” Biles said. “I was like, oh my god, it really hurt, but we were in the ending number. It’s like a five-minute number. So I had to keep going because I had like three more tumbling passes left. … But I knew something was really wrong.”
Biles said she visited medical personnel after the routine and was told she might have popped a rib out of place. She could barely walk or talk without it hurting. Still, she decided to finish out the tour without watering down her routines.
Biles said she “could barely move” after shows. After the tour ended, she remembered telling her mom in an airport, “I’m not being dramatic, but I think my rib is broken.”
Once home, she saw a doctor who confirmed the suspicion. It was healing fine, as Biles saw the doctor 2 1/2 weeks after she broke it. But she was told not do gymnastics while it finished healing.
Not a problem, as Biles had already said she wouldn’t compete in a meet in 2017.
She has shifted focus to the dance floor. The pain has moved, too, with the rib healed but the feet feeling on fire. Biles, who was home-schooled, has never danced with a guy before.
“I was actually weirded out how I wasn’t as nervous for the first rehearsal as I thought I would be,” Biles said. “I’m sure there will be some awkward moments … But we’re used to performing. So I don’t think that will change too much. It’s a different kind of performance. And we know how to handle our nerves, so that should be OK, too.”
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