Shawn Johnson Reveals What Inspired Her to Compete In a Spartan Race

The former Olympic gymnast announced the birth of her second child, son Jett James, a few months ahead of the race.

Shawn Johnson interview
Photo: Getty Images

It has been an eventful year for Shawn Johnson. Not only did the former Olympic gymnast welcome her second child with husband Andrew East in July — a baby boy named Jett — but the 29-year-old recently pushed herself to new limits in a grueling Spartan Race, which she called a humbling experience.

"Being pregnant for nine months and not being able to be super active, I really missed it," Johnson tells Shape. "I missed the adrenaline and I missed the extreme side of things. I wanted to humble myself and be really sore and do something I couldn't do for nine months. It was such a blast, I had so much fun and I definitely want to do another one." (

In a recent Instagram post, Johnson shared an action shot from the Nashville-based Spartan Race that took place earlier this month. Johnson is seen leaping over a pile of rubbish in the photo while locking hands with a pal. "I still can't walk and I keep finding random bruises everywhere but this was freaking amazing!" she captioned the image.

Although Spartan Races can typically include challenging — and messy — obstacle courses, Johnson says she didn't do any additional training to prepare. "Training for the race was actually just my day-to-day workouts," she says. "I was very humbled by the whole thing, but I did finish!" (

With two little ones at home, including 1-year-old daughter Hazel, you may be wondering how Johnson finds time for herself. Fortunately, she and East, 29, who have been married since 2016, have a system in place that ensures each parent gets their alone time. "My husband and I have a rule in our household, that we each get an hour a day. Whether that's a workout or just sleep or to do whatever. It's something we started with my daughter and it's really helped us," says Johnson. (

While staying active is an important part of Johnson's lifestyle, supporting her fellow athletes is just as imperative too. Recently, Johnson participated as a judge for Red Bull's Freestyle Slackline Competition in Nashville, in which 12 athletes from around the world perform their toughest tricks on a two-inch line suspended 30 feet above the city's iconic Lower Broadway area. Although Japan's Teruto Tanaka took home the top prize, all of the participants left Johnson in awe.

"It's really cool to see Red Bull Walk the Line, something that is so different and that Nashville has never seen before, right here in town," she says. "I also always love getting to meet unique athletes and these men and women from around the world are amazing."

As a four-time Olympic medalist, Johnson also exhibited impressive physical prowess over the course of her career. And while much has changed since she retired from gymnastics in June 2012, Johnson remains focused on her family and trying to keep a positive mindset daily, no matter the curveballs life may throw her way. "It was really, really hard before my kids. But, I think my kids are the best reminder," she says of a recent Instagram message, "you are enough." "When they look at you and you are their world, it just proves the point all day, every day."

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