A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Friday, January 25, 2013

America's First Gymnastics Reality Show: Beyond the Routine

Gymternet, we have been given a gift.  A weekly gift given to us by Gymnastike, called Beyond the Routine.  BTR features the one and only Mary Lee Tracy, and her supreme role as queen at Cincinnati Gymnastics.  We all have our own opinions of MLT and her wacky ways, whether we associate her with Amanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps, or perhaps more of the Morgan White "Oh My God Oh My God" era.  Now she brings us her two latest prized pigs, Lexie Preissman and Amelia Hundley, who bring "the fire again" in her. 

"This is the first time I really feel that fire again, because I have two kids that they wanna make the Olympics.  They WANT.  The other kids, they were like, too afraid to set that goal.  I mean, this is the first time I feel since Morgan White where I really have two kids that are on a mission to make this next Olympic team.  And they're not afraid to say it.  And I'm not afraid to say that I'm going to do everything I can, whatever it takes, because I've got two kids who are willing to do the same."

So really, FU to the plethora of elites that she's had since 2000.

Priess, Whitcomb, Jetter, Williams, Brown, Beucler, Flohr, Johnson, Mauro- all worthless crap.  Moceanu, Thompson, Beckerman- you just didn't WANT the Olympics enough. 

That's just the trailer to our weekly series of unintentional comedic gold.  Gym fans have been clamoring for years for an American gymnastics reality show.  We've got one now, and Mary Lee Tracy is a star.  She is THE star.  She is the Abby Lee Miller of elite gymnastics.

Beyond the Routine wastes no time with fancy credits or opening theme songs.  We begin straight away with Mary Lee in her kitchen, as she introduces us to her dog children.

MLT has two dogs: Phoebe Lee Tracy, who is seen one time and never again.  It's explained immediately that Phoebe Lee Tracy is big and thus has to stay home and fend for herself all day, alone.  That's what you get for being too big.  But forget about old Phoebe.  The real focus is Sophie Lee Tracy.  Tiny and cute, just like all dogs/girls should be!  Sophie Lee Tracy is adorable and precious, and gets special treats because she "has issues," which happens to be epilepsy.  But don't feel too sorry for Sophie Lee.  Because she is just so bitty and special, Sophie Lee gets to travel with Mary Lee EVERYWHERE.  But not before getting dressed, obviously.

Mary Lee goes into great detail about the many outfits that Sophie Lee has, and how what Sophie Lee wears is entirely dependent on what she wears.  On this day, it's a matching Cincinnati Gymnastics Sue Sylvester track suit. 

It cannot be left unsaid that Mary Lee Tracy has no less than four wine bottles sitting on her kitchen counter.

Once Sophie Lee Tracy is dressed, Mary Lee says peace out to the other dog, and watches as her dear sweet Sophie Lee jumps into the car for their ride to the gym.

What should be a simple ride to the gym is easily the most interesting part of the show.  MLT's first priority is playing a "Faith Song" that helps her mentally prepare for her day with these emotionally unstable teenage girls.

So many safety violations.  First of all, the dog is on her lap.  Second of all, that phone.  Make note of the timestamp.  3:16 is when she first picks up the phone in a vain attempt to find her Faith Song.

The interviewer asks her about her best memories, her worst memories, etc.  That's all well and good, but clearly her focus is on her iPhone.

There is nothing that terrifies me more than teenage girls who mess with their phones while driving.  Every time I have seen something dumb done on the road, it's because some teenage girl is distracted by her phone.  Every. Single. Time.

This time, it's a middle aged woman as opposed to naive teenage girl. 

Mary Lee just keeps messing with her phone, driving, terrifying poor Sophie Lee while discussing how hard it was for her to admit to Martha that Morgan White was injured in Sydney.  All that is an afterthought to her endless pursuit of her Faith Song. 

Notice that we're closing in on a solid minute and a half of Mary Lee playing with her phone while driving.  Not to be an old lady PSA ad, but even glancing down at your phone will get you tagged in the great state of Minnesota.

Finally, about a 1:45 later, MLT finally gives up on sharing her Faith Song with us all.  We'll never know if the interviewer was treated to the song.

Only after she gives up on her phone does she share with us that she, the woman who NEVER breaks her gymnasts, simply HATES injuries.  As opposed to the coaches who just love injuries.

Mary Lee finally rolls up to the gym.  Some poor girl experiences that awkward moment where she walks in at the same time as her coach, and doesn't know whether she should go in, or let the Queen in first.

The younger girls all seem to glare at Mary Lee with this terror in their eyes.  It's unmistakable.

After MLT shows us her office and explains her theme of the week, "DESIRE," she makes her way into the gym to watch a little bit of Monday conditioning. 

These girls seriously stop whatever they're doing, and just stare at Mary Lee until she passes them by.  As an internet viewer, I can FEEL the tension that these poor girls must experience whenever in the Queen's presence.

Given that the girls have had an entire day off, MLT needs to survey the scene and see what shape her kids are in.  This is one of many references to how emotionally unstable her team seems to be.

THE DOG IS ON THE FLOOR.  I can't even.  I've heard rumors about the quality of MLT's equipment, namely the FX mat.  She lets her dog on the floor.  That just about sums it up for me.

Now it's finally time for some real conditioning.  Mary Lee explains her methods, and basically why she invented conditioning.  She has some good drills, but is very condescending when speaking to her girls.  After doing a set of drills on beam, she decides no one performed them to her liking, so they have to start over.

While I appreciate that she attempts to explain her methods to her girls, she just could not speak down to them any more than she does.  Are these teenage girls, or are these brand new L5s?  I understand that some of the girls are "wannabe elites," but the older girls like Amelia probably understand how to do a press handstand without you berating them.

The real outlet for Mary Lee's rage seems to be this young girl, appropriately named Pixie.

We're introduced to Miss Courtney McCool as she explains her role as Mary Lee's assistant.  According to Courtney, she is there to work on elegance, grace, form, technique, knees, toes, and "bar dance."  Your guess is as good as mine.

Unless she means barre dance, which is a stretch because CGI doesn't seem like they spend a ton of time at the barre, if you know what I mean.  Courtney is also in charge of the juniors, one who does a double turn smack into McCool's chest.  Courtney is not impressed.

Some of Courtney's work must be paying off, because some of the juniors do have lovely knees and toes.  This one, who goes unnamed, is ridden mercilessly by MLT while she conditions.

Like her teammates, she's visibly terrified by MLT's presence and critique. 

This leads us into the next episode's theme, which is MENTAL TOUGHNESS.  Mary Lee's girls cry.  A lot.  Is that OK?  Is it not OK?  Is crying terrible and weak for some girls but expressive and meaningful for others?  We'll find out in the next episode!


  1. How did I not know about this? I live in Cincy! I can't decide if I want to watch this or just read your recaps and call it a day!

  2. I love you and everything you do, Spanny!!!

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Possibly the best recap you've done, Spanny. LOL.

  5. Holy. Crap.

    I get e-mails from Gymnastike with these in them, but I haven't watched them. I'm debating whether I should watch them, or just read your recaps because they are going to be infinitely better than the show itself(just like MIOBI).

    Since I'm on the subject, I need my MIOBI lulz fix one of these days. Please.

  6. There is a new commercial out for All State Insurance where their spokesperson, "Mayhem" is in the drivers seat of a car playing with a dog that looks just like Sophie Lee here and flashbacks of MLT doing that same thing terrified me. I can't find a video clip though of Mayhem.

  7. I would assume MLT picks on Pixie as she is punishing her for following Enrique Trebanino to Perfection gymnastics.

  8. please keep doing this, I can't afford gymnastike gold right now and I was dying to see what this documentary was about

  9. I love gymnastics and my daughter also, She is very interested in rhythmic gymnastics. So, I am looking for a gymnastics miami florida I know little about miami gymnastics but I need a gymnastics in miami which one is very near in Miami beach.

  10. spanny you are the queen

  11. I forgot that McCool started working at CGA. She is totally Mary Lee's mini-me. They should get her an even tinier dog to carry around everywhere.

  12. Oh, Spanny... I was waiting eagerly for Aunt Joyce's recap, but this is even better. Never change.

  13. this was infinitely more entertaining than the documentary itself

  14. I watched these episodes and wondered what you would have to say about them! I caved and got Gymnastike Gold- I couldn't help myself. How many episodes are left? I hope quite a few- we are all at a loss after the MIOBI recaps ended ;)

  15. Thank you for recapping these! I can't bring myself to pay for Gymnastike Gold, but your recaps make me feel like I watched.