The Talk with Gaukhar Akhmetova-Atherton

Being a mom is definitely about flexibility, strength and balance. Meet Gaukhar Akhmetova-Atherton. She is a mom, a Cirque de Soleil artist and a social media queen of hand-balancing and contortions. This talented mom is winning the internet these days with her pics of gymnastic stunts with her children. We stopped by Gasya's New York appartment for some upside down fun conversation.

Joliegazette: How did it all start? How did you first get involved with gymnastics?

Gasya: I started gymnastics at the age of 3 years old in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan. I have a clear memory of my mother and father taking me to the gym to watch my older sister. At the time I was too young to join, but I knew I wanted to be involved in the sport as soon as I could. From my first training session it was clear I was born to do acrobatics. It was natural.

Joliegazette: When did Cirque Du Soleil happen and how?

Gasya: I was first approached by Cirque du Soleil during a World Cup competition in 2006. They send casting scouts around the world to all the major sporting events. I was 17 at the time and it was my dream to work for them. As soon as my competitive career finished I was lucky enough to be offered a contract to perform on one of their touring shows. The show was Varekai, which was about to embark on a two year tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Photo by Lauri Levenfeld. Styled by Katja O'Brien

Photo by Lauri Levenfeld. Styled by Katja O'Brien

Joliegazette: What was your biggest acrobatic achievement?

Gasya: My biggest acrobatic achievement was finishing 3rd in 2005 at the World Games, Germany.

Photo by Lauri Levenfeld. Styled by Katja O'Brien

Photo by Lauri Levenfeld. Styled by Katja O'Brien

Joliegazette: Have you ever had any scares?

Gasya: The biggest scare in my career occurred during the creation of my second CDS show IRIS. I was learning a new discipline for me, the bungee trapeze act. This act involves bungee jumping 40 feet in the air from a trapeze. During one of my flights I caught the bar awkwardly, which resulted in a 90% lebrum tear to my right shoulder. I knew immediately it was bad and would need operating on. I didn't want to miss any of this creation but I had no choice. Thankfully the operation was a success and I recovered in half the time they told me it would take. I was back in time for the world premiere of IRIS. In fact, I performed in two numbers for the show. I was determined to be there completely.

Joliegazette: How did the idea of an Instagram page came up?

Gasya: I opened up an Instagram page early but did not become too active until the birth of my first child, Kamali. I had so many amazing moments happening in my life and I wanted to document and store them somewhere. Instagram was perfect for this. Now that my page has become very popular with many people around the world I still intend to keep it personal to me. I want to include the things that are important in my life and if this in turn goes on to inspire others then that's a bonus.

Joliegazette: You have such an athletic family. Would you want your kids to follow your footsteps?

Gasya: I want my daughter to be happy, healthy and content in whatever it is she decides to do in life. My husband and I will encourage her to try many things before settling on anything. It's important she makes this decision by herself, for herself. So far she's tried gymnastics, dance, music class and Taekwondo. We do play around with gymnastics disciplines and hand balancing at home but this is mostly for fun. My son also tried to be a part of these trainings, which amuses all of us.

Joliegazette: What is your daily excercise routine?

Gasya: I try to do some type of exercise every day. What, when and for how long depends on my husband schedule and my children's needs. I'm fortunate to have a beautiful fitness center in the apartment building I'm living, so getting to and from the gym is not too difficult. I try to make at least one hour of exercise a day. Each training session begins with a 20 minute aerobic workout, followed by 30 minutes of weight training and a light stretch to finish. Every third day I'll train my hand-balancing routine, which is where my daughter likes to get involved. We have a lot of fun and she's learning so much.

Joliegazette: What type of women is Gasya?

Gasya: I've learned that every situation, whether positive or negative can be looked at in very different ways. I aim to focus my mind on the positives in everything that I do in life. Especially in those challenging moments. The goal is to have a happy and healthy outlook in life, to complement a happy, healthy body. It’s amazing how the smallest things done by my children can bring the biggest smile to my face. My spirit is lifted for the whole day.

Photo by Lauri Levenfeld. Styled by Katja O'Brien

Photo by Lauri Levenfeld. Styled by Katja O'Brien

Joliegazette: What is your personal style like?

Gasya: I'm really not a brand or name person. I try to select my clothes and shoes solely on how I see them on the rack or in the shop window. I love to mix and match all my outfits. I'm happy to wear Christian Louboutin shoes with an H&M dress I purchased for $15.00. My style is an extension of my character. Confident, creative and very colorful.

Joliegazette: What have been the highlights of your competitive and performance careers, and how do they compare?

Gasya: Finishing in the 2005 World Games is a huge highlight of my competitive career. This competition is equivalent to the Olympic Games for sports acrobatics, so the standard is high. Performing in the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 has got to be the highlight of my Cirque du Soleil career so far. To be in the same room as all those amazingly talented actors, writers, directors and producers was unbelievable. The Oscar performance was televised to over 225 countries worldwide, which was a lot of pressure, but very exciting.

To learn more about Gaukhar Akhmetova-Atherton head over to The Project for Women

Text Juliet Belkin
Styling Katja O'Brien
Photos Lauri Levenfeld