It’s tempting to think cheerleading is all fake tans, tits and teeth but this 45-minute, high-intensity class proves it’s anything but. You may be living out your American high school fantasies with cool dance routines but jeez, it’s hard work!
Cheerleading at the gym is great for your cardiovascular fitness (ie, you sweat, a lot), it tests your co-ordination and balance, and it also requires a shed-load of strength and stamina.
You usually see cheerleaders looking all pretty and preened pitch side, but behind the scenes they’re constantly working on their strength with Pilates-style arm rotations and whole body exercises, which this class kindly incorporates (lifting my arms up to dry my hair the next day was a struggle).
As it’s choreographed by urban cheer group Drop The Pom, it steers mercifully clear of any naff ‘motivational’ cheers, cheesy tunes and twee dance moves. I loved it, and here is why:
1. You get to hold pom-poms
The key selling point obvs. Come on who doesn’t love shaking massive balls of fluff?
2. Banging music
If the pom-poms aren’t enough to get you moving, the music certainly is. We went from Sean Paul to Beyoncé to Britney – ideal.
3. We learned a full on routine, which I may have practised at home. Maybe
We learned choreographed dance moves – which included jumping lunges, complex overhead arm moves, high knees, loads of pom pom shaking and, of course, jumps (yay for jumping). The moves built up throughout the class to form a full routine. Just try not to do it in da club, yeah?
4. Girl power!
Guys are, of course, welcome, but my class was filled with a strong sense of feminine cheer power. As we all lined up and did a Mexican wave, I felt like I’d joined a sisterhood united through the sacred pom – No Mean Girls style bitching here. I felt totally comfortable going on my own, but it’d also be a great class to go to with a group of mates.
5. Have I mentioned you sweat?
The instructor, Esmee Gummer, who specialises in dance fitness, was clear from the start – this isn’t an ‘easy’ class. And she wasn’t lying. I was dripping before the first song had finished. This is a full-body workout –alongside dancing and toning work, explosive moves like the aforementioned jumps and jumping lunges really take it out of you.
6. It absolutely doesn’t matter if you get it wrong. And you don’t have to wear a cheerleader’s outfit
The emphasis here is on having fun not being the next prom queen. You can turn up in your standard gym kit, you don’t need fake lashes, and no one’s going to give a stuff if you mess up.
7. It’s not just a class – it’s a performance
Cheerleading is not just about the moves – it’s about the smiling, the energy, the dance routine. So while we were facing a mirror – rather than a football crowd – big ol’ smiles were necessary. Although this does get difficult to maintain once the sweat patches start showing.8. You want to go back for more
Usually when a gruelling class is over I feel an overwhelming sense of relief. This time though, I just wanted to do more, and more, and more! Oh and did I mention YOU GET TO HOLD POM POMS?!