Interview with Nessa Lantzman, Rhythmic Gymnast

Nessa Lantzman is a passionate, talented young rhythmic gymnast, climbing to the peak of her sport. At just 15 years old, Nessa has been mesmerizing the audiences with her expressive performance and amazing apparatus handling skills, taking the podiums at Invitational, State, Regional and National Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Nessa is a member of one of the strongest clubs in the country, Prima Rhythmic Gymnastics, located in Alpharetta, GA.

Nessa’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, marked by her unwavering dedication, passion, and hard work for rhythmic gymnastics. Coming from an immigrant family, Nessa is not only bilingual, but also a talented musician, having played two instruments from a young age. Simultaneously, she has been creating arts and crafts beyond her years, all while pursuing her gymnastics dreams since the age of five.

Despite rigorous training of 30-40 hours a week, Nessa maintains an outstanding academic record. Her role models include her coach, an Olympian, as well as esteemed rhythmic gymnasts like Olympic champion Linoy Ashram, European and World medalist Daria Atamanov, and World and European champion Sofia Raffaeli, among others. Nessa aspires to represent her country on the global stage in Rhythmic Gymnastics.

This year, Nessa has been presented with a golden opportunity. She has been accepted to participate in the prestigious 2023 Pan American Maccabi Games in Argentina this winter, a pivotal step towards her dream. This opportunity will pave a way for her to represent Team USA in Maccabi Games in Israel in 2025.

  • Alla Umanskiy: How long have you been doing gymnastics?

I have been doing gymnastics for a total of 8 years. I started at the age of 5, but then took a break for 2 ½ years when I was 7. Later, I returned at the age of 9.

  • Where do you train?

I train at Prima Rhythmic Gymnastics club in Alpharetta.  My coach is an Olympian group gymnast from Belarus. Her group participated in Olympics in Rio. She is very creative and talented as a choreographer.

  • How did you get started in gymnastics?

My school friend invited me to join her at her gymnastics club, and later I came to enjoy the elegance and beauty of rhythmic gymnastics.

  • Did you always like it, or did it take time?

When I came to Golden Ribbon Gymnastics, I was doing it to spend time with my friend, but after I started at Prima Rhythmic Gymnastics, I became more passionate about rhythmic gymnastics. I like the unique combination that only rhythmic gymnastics has: dance and apparatus handling. It is a beautiful sport that makes your body and brain work in a special way. It is elegant, graceful and fun. You become excited when you finally learn to do a cool mastery with the apparatus, and you feel accomplished and proud of yourself when you master something today you could not do yesterday.

  • What is your training schedule like?

I train 5-6 hours from Monday to Saturday. During the competition season it may be longer. We do not leave the gym until we complete our task.

  • What competitions have you won so far and where?

In my earlier levels, I have won various Georgia State Championships, Invitational Championships in Orlando, FL, Regional Championships in Texas, Coaches Cup in Syracuse, NY, and National Championships in Indianapolis, IN and Wisconsin Dells, WI in my age category. Some of my more recognizable accomplishments are in level 8 (2022-2023 competition season). I was a grand champion out of the whole level in Coaches Cup in Syracuse, NY, and I became a National Champion out of all level 8 in ribbon.

(The awards are usually by level and age group. Grand champion Is someone who takes first place out of the whole level, across all age groups. Champion is someone who takes first place in the age group on their level.

National championship is only for select gymnasts, who qualify in their regions. This year each region sent 12 gymnasts in level 8. There are 6 regions in the USA. To become National champion means to take 1st place among the best gymnasts in the country. AU)

  • What are your long-term goals in gymnastics?

My long-term goal in gymnastics is to make it into level 10 and eventually qualify to join Group National Team.

  • How is your family involved in your athletic career?

My family is one of my biggest supporters. My mom takes time out of her schedule to drive me from school to gymnastics and back home. My dad is the one who takes the pictures and supports me in the crowd at competitions. My parents schedule classes, organize trips to competitions, and help prepare me before competing. While my mom is holding her breath, my dad is cheering in the crowd.

  • What is your dream?

My dream in gymnastics is to compete worldwide as a group. My dreams later in life are to travel and see the world.

  • Tell us a bit about your family life and your schedule.

Because of my training and competition schedule, there aren’t many opportunities to spend time with my family, but we still try to make it happen. When we do get the chance, we go on walks together or get ice cream at our favorite local shop, Vanilla Café E Gelato. On weekends, we might watch a movie and drink tea together. We try to travel together when my coach gives us a break. On competition trips, we go see places near the area and hang out with friends from the gym. My favorite thing is to spend time with my older sister. We love putting together puzzles or just going out to get coffee.

My daily schedule starts with school from 8:20 to 3:30. After I get home, I go straight to the gym from 5:00 to 10:00. After I get back from practice, I finish any homework that I haven’t finished at school during lunch or break. Then I shower and go to bed. On weekends, I have art and oboe classes. I had to give up piano because it didn’t fit into my schedule.

  • Tell us about school. What are your favorite classes? Who are your friends?

My favorite classes are Intro to Graphic and Design and Band because I get to use a lot of creativity and other ways of expressing myself, similar to what I show on the carpet in gymnastics. Unfortunately, I do not have much time for friendships. Most of my friends are from the gym, but I have a couple of friends from school. They are in different HS now, so it is even more challenging to spend time with them. Before, we would have fun in band, play together in ensembles and duets, and hang out at lunch. They are all busy with their own activities and school, so it is hard to find time when we are all free.  With gym friends we celebrate birthdays and have fun during travel for competitions.

  • Where were you born? Where are your parents from?

My parents are from Russia. My mom was born in Novosibirsk and my dad was born in Tomsk. In 1998, they moved to Israel where my sister Maayan was born. In 2006, they came to Atlanta, GA where I was born in 2008.

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About the Author
Alla Umanskiy is a writer, Jewish mother, wife, an amateur runner, and a mediocre figure skater, living, working, and raising a family in the Atlanta area. Alla holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Georgia State University and a graduate degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University. She's been published in various local and national publications, and recently finished translating a book from Russian to English.