Where roosters, camels and rhythmic gymnasts meet
posted on 04/24/2016

© Alisa Kano

The six members of the U.S. rhythmic gymnastics group can usually be found impeccably coiffed and made up, covered in sequins and performing complex routines in perfect unison.

But Alisa Kano, Kiana Eide, Kristen Shaldybin, Natalie McGiffert, Jenny Rokhman and Monica Rokhman showed a different side of themselves when they traveled to the Karolyi Ranch in the Sam Houston National Forest, about 60 miles north of Houston, Texas.

The Karolyi Ranch has become famous in the artistic gymnastics world for its role in shaping the U.S. women's national team into a medal-winning powerhouse. Once a month, Olympic and world champion gymnasts like Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman travel to the ranch, which is a designated Olympic Training Center, for intensive training camps under the watchful eye of national team coordinator Martha Karolyi.

Bela Karolyi, Martha's husband and the legandary former coach of Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton and Kerri Strug, is now the ranch's caretaker.

What has he chosen to fill the property's 2,000 acres with? There's a gymnasium complex, of course, plus a pool, hiking trails, tennis courts and a lake that Bela dug himself.

And camels, donkeys, goats, roosters and peacocks.

"They don't have a particular use, they are just fun for the kids," Bela told the NBC affiliate WTHR last July.

The women of the U.S. rhythmic gymnastics group made their own training trip to the ranch recently, and the athletes quickly made friends with the locals.

Read the rest of the story and see more photos on NBCOlympics.com