By Lisa Costantini | Sept. 19, 2015, 12:23 p.m. (ET)


Sept. 19, 2015 marks the 17th annual National Gymnastics Day. It started in 1999 as a way to promote the sport of gymnastics and its fitness benefits. But ask any Team USA gymnast – artistic, rhythmic or trampoline – what they love about their sport and you’ll find out it’s about more than just a good workout.

With fun perks like flying through the air and flying around the world, see what these gymnasts love about getting to pursue their passion.

Jonathan Horton, two-time Olympic medalist in artistic: “I love gymnastics because of the challenge. It’s the toughest sport in the world, and I get to fly!”

Aly Raisman, three-time Olympic medalist in artistic: “I love gymnastics because it never gets boring, and there is always something to work on. Gymnastics is so challenging which makes it that much more rewarding when you learn a new skill or stick a landing!”

Steven Gluckstein, 2012 Olympian and 2015 Pan American Games silver medalist in trampoline: "I love gymnastics because of the life-long friendships that I've created with gymnasts across the state, nation and even world!"

Kiana Eide, 2015 Pan Am Games gold and silver medalist in rhythmic: “I love gymnastics because it has made me realize and appreciate things much more than I had before. My parents have literally sacrificed everything for me — and my dreams — and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

“I love gymnastics because of all the opportunities it gives me that I will never have another chance to do, like traveling the world, competing at world championships, and qualifying for the Olympics!

“I love gymnastics because of the new life it gave me and how it has shaped the person I am today. Gymnastics is basically life lessons: it teaches you patience, time management, never to give up, keep dreaming, to be brave and confident, trust and teamwork, and love.”

Cody Gesuelli, 2014 Youth Olympian in trampoline: “I love gymnastics because the feeling of exhilaration I get when I hit a great routine is like no other.”

Madison Kocian, 2014 world team gold medalist in artistic: “I love gymnastics because I love the feeling of flying through the air on bars! I love the friendships I've created through gymnastics, and I enjoy representing Team USA!”

Jake Dalton, 2012 Olympian and four-time world medalist in artistic: “I love gymnastics because there is always something new to learn. I never get bored because you can always improve something in your skillset. Gymnastics has also taught me how to set goals and do everything I can to achieve them. The lessons I have learned from gymnastics will benefit me for the rest of my life.”

Eddie Penev, 2014 U.S. floor silver and vault bronze medalist: "I love gymnastics because it has taught me so many incredible life lessons while simply being a lot of fun. Not many people grow up doing all sorts of flips and twists and at the same time become accustomed to hard work and dedication at the highest level."

Brandon Wynn, 2013 world rings bronze medalist: “I love gymnastics because it’s always fun, exciting and new. Each day in the gym is never the same and I learn something different everyday!”

Natalie McGiffert, 2015 Pan Am Games gold and silver medalist in rhythmic: “I love gymnastics because it has allowed me to become the person I am today. It has made me an outgoing, confident, dedicated, detail-oriented and responsible person. It's allowed me to make lifelong friendships with some of the most talented and caring people around. It's united my friends and family with a sense of constant love and support for a common goal. Gymnastics has honestly been the biggest blessing in my life, and I wouldn't be 'me' without it.”

Nia Dennis, 2015 national team in artistic: "I love gymnastics because I enjoy competing and performing in front of people. The rush I get when competing is priceless!”

Tristan Ackerson, 2015 U.S. youth trampoline silver medalist: “I enjoy competing and accomplishing new things every year in the sport that I love.”

Kristen Shaldybin, 2015 Pan Am Games gold and silver medalist in rhythmic: “I love gymnastics because that is what I enjoy doing everyday, it became my lifestyle.”

Alyssa Oh, 2014 world double-mini trampoline champion (13-14): “I love gymnastics because I love to jump, flip, twist, and learn new skills. I love representing my country, meeting new people and the amazing experiences.”

Dakota Earnest, 2012 Olympic alternate in trampoline: “I love gymnastics because it gives me an extraordinary life.”

Jessica Stevens, 2015 U.S. junior women’s champion in trampoline: “I love gymnastics because I love the feeling of flying in the air, as well as meeting people from around the world.”

Carly Townsend, 2015 U.S. junior bronze medalist in trampoline: “I love gymnastics because it makes me feel like I can do anything!”