Olympian. NCAA Champion. UCLA Gymnast. Athlete. Artist. Actress. Is there anything Peng Peng Lee CAN’T do? This #bossbabe has been achieving gr8 heights since a young age, and even though she recently retired from her athletic career, the next chapter of an incredibly promising future has only just begun. Peng Peng’s passion and dedication for empowering the next generation of female athletes has resulted in her podcast Ambition on Fleek (also available on Spotify), where she discusses how to transfer a competitive sports mindset to dominate everyday life.
Peng Peng shares her best tips overcoming obstacles, staying positive through difficult times, and achieving gr8ness while finding balance in life both during and after her athletic career. This #girlboss has truly mastered the balancing act of life -- both on and off the balance beam.
Walk us through your journey -- How did your passion for gymnastics start? How did you get to such a high level of achievement in the sport?
Peng Peng Lee: I was put into the sport when I was four because my parents said I had so much energy. Interestingly I quit when I was seven because I hated all of the conditioning and I felt like when I was a child, I just wanted to play around. Once I was eight I came back into the sport and absolutely fell in love with it. That’s when I started competing and got routines etc. so to me it was so much fun. I switched gyms when I was 10 into a more competitive program because some coaches had seen my potential. I then knew when I was surrounded by all these high level athletes that being a top gymnast was possible.
What’s been the biggest obstacle in your career (and how did you overcome this)?
PPL: The biggest obstacle in my career have always been injuries. I had a lower back injury that took me away from the sport for a year, as well as two ACL reconstruction surgeries. I overcame them by always keeping myself busy and looking at the silver lining. During my back injury I wasn’t able to do any physical activities, but that never kept me away from starting guitar and doing singing and acting lessons.
You accomplished SO much at such a young age. What does it mean to you to have achieved such high level goals?
PPL: It’s so crazy when I look back at my career and think, I did that! Now being a young adult, there’s so much life to live and now I have created new passions. Gymnastics will always be a part of my life but it does feel like sometimes it was a whole life ago. Currently going after my new passions and goals, I really have to think of gymnastics as its own chapter and I can’t compare my new successes to my gymnastics career. I will always strive to be the best me and whatever that outcome is I will be proud for trying.
After your gymnastics career, how did you decide to launch Ambition On Fleek?
PPL: I am part of a studio for my YouTube channel and my manager asked if I had ever thought about starting a podcast. It never came across my mind however, I really wanted to share the stories that I had been through in my gymnastics career. I couldn’t have been more excited when Janay Honest agreed to co-host with me. We think it’s important to share our knowledge with younger athletes and the cool thing about our podcast is that we are still using the life lessons we learned in gymnastics to our current lives today.
What is your favorite quote to live by?
PPL: Everything happens for a reason, and that you are right where you need to be.
In terms of self-care, what’s are some rituals/products/hacks you SWEAR BY that can instantly add value to all our lives?
PPL: I love using my essential oils because I am a big believer in energies. It’s not really a hack but learning how to play instruments and writing music has always helped me get my emotions out and keep myself centered especially when I’m stressed. Also talking to my mom is always great because when I was living in LA and was so far away from home, it was nice to have a piece of home with me. I also tried to always make time to hang out with my friends because having that quality time recharged me and put me in a great mood; I’m extremely extroverted.
You seamlessly juggle the life of a #Girlboss. What does balance mean to you and how do you practice it?
PPL: Balance to me is learning how to time manage everything. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that saying no is extremely powerful because it is saying yes to yourself. I have my priorities but I also know what I need to recharge myself; music, friends, food etc. When I’m overwhelmed with the amount of things I have on my plate, I always go back to my calendar and plan everything out (and that is something I definitely had to learn, I was not born with extreme organizational / planning skills).
How did competitive gymnastics help guide you in your life and/or career path?
PPL: Gymnastics has helped me shape me who I am today but not because of just the sport itself, but from the people I met through it. My parents have always taught me there is more to life than just gymnastics and always helped me see the brighter side of things. Miss Val has helped me be comfortable and confident with myself and not be afraid to speak up. Through UCLA gymnastics, I have learned about working on a team and becoming a strong leader. My teammates have taught me how to communicate and be respectful and honest. These traits have helped me be confident so when I do look into what career path I 100% want to go into, I am confident in my abilities and I have the people to support me when I come across new hurdles.
Just for fun: You're stuck on an island and can only take three food items with you. What would they be?
PPL: OH MAN! Rice (That’s my asianness), beef, and noodles. I’m just going to assume that there will be fruit on the island!
You clearly have incredible work ethic. We would love to hear about the support system you have?
PPL: My family plays a huge role in it because I have learned a lot through my injuries. I have learned to celebrate the little moments because if you are always focused on the big goals and aren’t celebrating on the way, the journey is going to be very long. I know I’m not perfect and I have my faults and that is why especially when it comes to work ethic, I am proud when I check something off my list, or signed up for a new class. The little things help my work ethic because it gets me motivated and excited.
What’s your number one tip for anyone who wants to achieve gr8ness in their lives?
PPL: My number one tip is that there is no such thing as success. It is what you define success as. There is only one you and will ever be one you. So focus on being the best you that you can be.