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Laurie Hernandez Shares Her Secret to Smelling Fresh & Talks About What's Next


At 17 years old, Laurie Hernandez is a supremely accomplished teenager. Last summer, she caught global attention as part of the USA women’s gymnastics team at the Olympics, winning a gold medal during the team event and a silver medal for her balance beam routine. As such an active athlete and adolescent, Laurie is all too familiar with the unpleasant odors that accompany being a gymnast—which makes her the perfect spokeswoman for Febreze’s “I Love You, But Sometimes You Stink” campaign. In our exclusive interview, Laurie shares her thoughts on what makes Febreze’s latest OdorClear technology so innovative, how she balances her busy athletic schedule with her education and her plans for the future.

Laurie was five years old when she first became interested in gymnastics. “I was just sitting at home and I saw a gymnast on the TV and I realized that's what I wanted to do,” she recalls. Her parents, Anthony and Wanda, were more than happy to support Laurie’s new interest, and she soon began taking classes in her New Jersey neighborhood.

“I think at that age, if I would have picked gymnastics, soccer—whatever sport or whatever hobby it was—they definitely would have supported me through that, so I’m really grateful to them,” Laurie says.

Growing up in the Hernandez household with two siblings who also participated in sports, Laurie admits there were times when picture frames were accidentally broken and smelly shoes became the norm. Regardless, Laurie’s parents were always supportive of her participation in gymnastics.

“In 2012, I was 12 years old, it was my first time making Elite Nationals and I went, I fell probably four times and I was so disappointed, but my mom looked at me and she said, ‘Don’t look at the fact that you just fell; look at where you are. So many girls would love to compete at nationals.’ She got me ice cream so we could celebrate the moment together, and that moment really stuck with me. It kinda taught me to be grateful for all the competitions,” Laurie recalls.

Given Laurie’s athletic background and her close relationship with her mom, it’s no surprise that Laurie and Wanda joined Febreze’s “I Love You, But Sometimes You Stink” campaign—and they’re the first Latina mother-daughter pair to get involved!

“Personally, as an athlete, I think I can really relate to coming home and being all sweaty from a workout,” Laurie says. “All my equipment really smells and sometimes my sister wouldn’t even want my gym bag in the back of her car because it was so nasty.”

The solution to Laurie’s less-than-sweet smell is Febreze’s new line of products that incorporate OdorClear technology, which is designed to break down odors and leave any surface with a refreshing scent.  

“If you wash a gymnast’s equipment, it can get a little bit slippery and it feels a little uncomfortable while you're out there, whether you're tumbling or whether you're on the uneven bars, so thankfully, with Febreze, you can just spray it and it smells good and it doesn't change anything, it just makes it smell a lot better—and that really benefits me as an athlete,” Laurie explains. “It's funny because I am an ambassador for Febreze at Walmart, but before the campaign, before anything, my mom would stash Febreze around the house.”

When Laurie’s not having workout sessions that last for hours, she's also hard at work pursuing her education. Anyone who has experience being a student-athlete knows that it takes plenty of dedication, and Laurie can completely relate to the stress involved in finding time for both.

"It's definitely a little hard at first," she says. "I've been homeschooling since the third grade, and I actually just finished my junior year of high school, so that's pretty exciting. But it means a lot to me, both education and then finding time for practice. Once you can figure out your priorities, balancing your schedule becomes a lot easier."

Since Laurie’s currently on a much-needed break, she has a lot more time to do fun and relaxing things, like getting her nails done, going shopping and binge-watching some of her favorite shows (which include The Blacklist, Law & Order and Riverdale). "I've been taking a little break, both mentally and physically, from gymnastics, but I'll probably ease my way back into it by the end of the summer," she says.

As an accomplished gymnast, best-selling author and winner of Dancing With the Stars, Laurie is excited to tackle a new challenge once she starts college: acting.

"I'm definitely looking forward to acting. I mean, after Dancing with the Stars, it was like every week I had to play a different character. One week it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the next week, it was Chicago. They're totally different characters, but I loved swapping that fast, so it's something I'm looking forward to."

With Laurie's dedication, enthusiasm and talent, it's safe to say that she'll succeed in the next chapter of her life!

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