Laurie Hernandez is back in the gym after some much-needed time off.
The 19-year-old athlete is training for her chance at joining the 2020 Olympic women’s gymnastics team, three years after winning a gold and silver medal as a member of the Final Five.
“After 2016, I really just needed, I think, a mental and physical break from gymnastics,” she tells PEOPLE while opening up about her partnership with Travelodge by Wyndham to launch the brand’s upcoming Adventure Responsibly campaign. “But late last year I decided it was my time to come back, and that I missed it dearly.”
Hernandez says she’s back to training full-time, which for her means six days a week, five hours a day. “The goal would be to start competing early next year, so that way I can hopefully make that 2020 team,” she explains.
The return hasn’t been easy, she admits, noting she’s been starting at ground zero in a lot of areas. “It was really like taking the rust off of me,” the teen explains. “But once we got everything moving, we’re now able to throw some of the bigger skills. And I just, I think I somehow love it more now than I did before.”
Despite the long hours, and the challenges on the world stage, Hernandez admits she has “no regrets” — “my life is so odd and so weird and also so cool … Once I turned pro I never really looked back. I have no regrets. I think that’s exactly where I wanted my life to go.”
Still, there’s one part of childhood she definitely didn’t have to give up for her career — time spent outdoors, which is why she’s partnering with Travelodge on the campaign. The Adventure Responsibly campaign has the brand celebrating the National Parks Service’s recent 103rd birthday by hosting clean-up events across the U.S. From August to September. “With gymnastics being such an indoor sport, my parents wanted to kind of pull me outside,” Hernandez tells PEOPLE. “The beach, and national parks, and hiking and that all, are a big love of mine. And even like in my backyard at my home in New Jersey, it was a pretty open space. We had trees everywhere. So, when I was able to hear about partnering with Travelodge by Wyndham, it really was a perfect fit.”