Steven Gluckstein

By Daniel Gibson
Action photo by Ron Wyatt

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If things had gone differently, Steven Gluckstein may have been a martial arts champion and not a gymnast. Gluckstein had been practicing taekwondo but that came to an abrupt end.

It turned out to be taekwondo's loss and trampoline's gain.

"After doing taekwondo for six years, the school shut down," Gluckstein said. "My mother wanted to keep me involved in sports. She knew I was not going to be tall -- my mother being 5'2" and my father 5'9"-- so she signed me up for gymnastics. My coach Tatiana Kovaleva (1996 trampoline World champion) had just moved to America from Russia and was starting a trampoline team. She asked me to join the team, and 11 years later, here I am."

Gluckstein's family has been involved in sports so it was no surprise that he would be athletically inclined.

"My younger brother Jeffrey is also on the U.S. National Team for trampoline. My mother did gymnastics, and my father ran track," said Gluckstein.

However, Gluckstein's entry into the sport of gymnastics wasn't premeditated. He entered competition almost by default. But once he got involved, the talent was evident.

"I didn't really decide I was going to compete," Gluckstein said. "Being on the team meant you automatically competed. I began competing the first year I started trampoline, at Level 8. I competed at my first nationals in 2001 in San Antonio at Level 10. I remember being so nervous and looking at the other competitors like they were so incredibly good. I ended up making finals and finishing sixth. Shortly after I realized that I was not too far behind these kids! I still compete with some of them today."

That early success showed Gluckstein that with hard work and dedication, combined with his natural abilities, he could compete with the best. Now Gluckstein has a training regimen that he follows daily.

"I train six days a week for three to three-and-a-half hours each day," Gluckstein said. "Training includes warming up, practicing routines, drills, new routines, and new skills. At the end of practice is conditioning/exercises. Conditioning is different every day, whether it's abs, back, legs, arms, plyo, cardio, weights, etc."

The constant training and competing has helped Gluckstein to grow physically, but participating in gymnastics has also helped him to grow mentally as well.

"I have grown tremendously as a gymnast," Gluckstein said. "I have learned to cope with so many different emotions, as well as learning the best way to compete for myself. I am able to balance my competitiveness and friendship with my competitors really well now too."

"Gymnastics has helped me become a well-rounded person. It has taught me perseverance, determination, and, most of all, to not quit when things get tough."

The mental growth is equally important to the physical aspect of the sport because Gluckstein is a firm believer in the phrase "if you believe, you can achieve."

"One of the many life-lessons that gymnastics has taught me is to never doubt yourself," Gluckstein said. "You can do whatever you put your mind to, and the only thing that can hold you back is yourself."

That positive thought process and dedication to hard work has led to much success for Gluckstein. A few achievements stand out above the others.

"My biggest accomplishments are three World Cup gold medals in synchronized trampoline, 12th place at World Championships, fourth place at World Cup, and 2009 and 2010 national trampoline champion," said Gluckstein.

While these accomplishments are great, Gluckstein is currently working toward graduating from college. He puts in the work necessary to compete at a high level in gymnastics and in the class room.

"I am attending Rutgers Business School in Newark, N.J.," Gluckstein said. "I am majoring in business management, but am thinking of switching to finance. I have one-and-a-half years left in school."

School and gymnastics both play a major role in Gluckstein's life and that is apparent in his plans for a life after competitive gymnastics.

"I want to medal at the World Championships and Olympic Games," said Gluckstein. "After I retire, I plan on working in finance until I have enough capital to open a gymnastics, trampoline, and fitness center in the New York-New Jersey area."

While competing and studying take up a majority of Gluckstein's time, they are not his only interests.

"Besides practicing, I also coach at the gym where I train, Head Over Heels Gymnastics in Middletown, N.J.," said Gluckstein. "After coaching, I commute to school. I come home, study, and do it all over again. Usually on the weekends I'm traveling to a competition or clinic somewhere, but when I have a free weekend, I like to snowboard in the winter, go to the beach in the summer, and skydive! I love to skydive whenever I have a chance. However my parents and coach are not big fans of this hobby!"

Gluckstein also enjoys movies and good food.

"I love comedies! Pretty much anything with Chris Farley and Will Farrell in it," said Gluckstein. "My favorite movie lately is 'Law Abiding Citizen.'"

When asked about his favorite food, Gluckstein had a difficult time choosing at first.

"Can't really narrow it down," he said. "However I don't think there is a time that I would turn down a burger from Off the Hook, a local restaurant here on the water."

Gluckstein is also a huge music fan, who takes pride in having a wide range of music at his disposal.

"I love so many different genres of music," Gluckstein said. "However my favorite artists are Rise Against, The Used, and Lil Wayne.

"I probably have the weirdest play lists you will ever see," he said. "Lately I've been on a rap kick, but I love my rock as well. Lil Wayne always gets me amped up. But sometimes I need some heavy rock to get me going. I think music is an excellent therapy before competition because during competition you cannot play it safe, and the music usually gets me to be aggressive. You need the mentality of someone who is hungry for a gold medal, not someone who wants to be average. A friend of mine once told me to be Kobe (Bryant) because Kobe never walks onto the court with any doubts in his mind whatsoever. He has the perfect mindset for an athlete so before I compete, I like to be Kobe."

Aside from listening to music before competitions, Gluckstein has a few other habits that he routinely does.

"Ever since I was little, I had a crazy amount of stupid little superstitions," Gluckstein said. "However I tried to break all of them, but I still can't shake them all! I do little stuff like rubbing all of the chalk off of the trampoline pad before I get on the trampoline, and taking a few jumps on the trampoline to shake the nerves before it's time to salute to the judges."

When asked, Gluckstein used three words to describe himself as a person, he said "open-minded, responsible, and fun." His three words to describe himself as a gymnast are "fast, clean, and competitive."

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