America's Most Decorated Gymnast

by Brenton Crozier
Jacksonville will play host to the 2011 AT&T American Cup, an International Gymnastics Federation World Cup Event. This prestigious invitational will be held on March 5th at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. River City resident, Shannon Miller, will be the event’s honorary chairwoman. Shannon is not only America’s most decorated gymnast, she is a successful business woman, wife, mother and active community member. EU spoke with Shannon about her business, Shannon Miller Lifestyle, her community and for good measure, gymnastics.

EU: What is Shannon Miller Lifestyle?
SM: Shannon Miller Lifestyle, which launched in July of 2010, is not just my company, it’s my passion. Although I’ve used my voice to advocate for women’s health and fitness for close to a decade, I felt there was a need for more relevant and convenient healthy lifestyle information for women. SML is not about losing five pounds in a day; it’s about finding and maintaining that healthy lifestyle that we constantly strive to achieve. We discuss important topics that affect women; everything from losing the baby weight to coping with a cancer diagnosis, how to get your kids active and incredible recipes from top chefs.

EU: How did you end up in Jacksonville?
SM: I married into Jacksonville. And I absolutely love it! My husband was born and raised here. In fact, he and our son were born at the same hospital. The people here are wonderful and have really made me feel welcome.

EU: Do you plan to hold any Jacksonville events?
SM: Yes, we consistently partner with many events in the area. We have also announced the Shannon Miller Lifestyle Women’s 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Children’s Fun Run that will be held at the Jacksonville Landing on April 30th, 2011. The Children’s Run is free to all who would like to participate and proceeds from the Women’s 5K benefit the Shannon Miller Foundation to fight childhood obesity. Those funds stay right here for programs in Jax.

EU: What has been a tougher challenge, competing in gymnastics at a world-class level or running a successful business?
SM: They are both incredibly difficult, time consuming and physically and emotionally demanding. It helps that I can rely on the great lessons I learned through sport to help me excel in business. There is no substitute for hard work, you will never progress if you don’t set goals, and above all you have to be passionate and love what you do. Of course, I have to say that motherhood trumps them both!

EU: What is something that people don’t know about competing at the Olympics that may come as a surprise?
SM: The louder you are the better we do! Even on the balance beam it’s much better to have people cheering, music blaring than to have everything quiet. That’s extremely intimidating.

EU: For a gymnast, the public perception is that Olympic gold is the zenith of one’s career, is that true?
SM: Absolutely. At 12 years old I won my first international competition. I will never forget that moment when I stood there on the podium, wearing red, white and blue, hearing my National Anthem being played and watching the American flag being raised. I knew in that instant that I wanted to represent my country on the biggest stage possible; and for a gymnast that is the Olympic Games.

EU: What is the Shannon Miller Foundation and what type of work does it do?
SM: I launched the Shannon Miller Foundation in 2007, which is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity. The last two years we have held our children’s run at the Jacksonville Landing. This past May we had over 1,200 participants! We have just opened registration for our April 30th children’s one mile fun run but we’ve also added the Women’s 5k Run/Walk. We must attack childhood obesity through the family unit and it’s important for us to be role models for our children. In addition to our signature event SMF is launching an in-school running club for kids in January, 2011. We have over 2,500 kids currently signed up for the free in-school program and a waiting list of many more. What’s great is that these are all Jacksonville area children. While my awareness of this issue had a national reach, my foundation and these running clubs are focused on the Jacksonville community.

EU: Could you teach me how to do a backflip?
SM: Haha. Never say never!

Learn more about Shannon Miller and her company at: You can also listen to her weekly call-in radio show, Shannon Miller Lifestyle presented by St. Vincent’s HealthCare on WOKV-Jacksonville (Sundays from 9 am- 10 am EST). Tickets to the 2011 AT&T American Cup are available through Ticketmaster.