Cheerleading sees participants follow tightly choreographed routines in groups. Traditionally it combines aspects of dancing, jumping and gymnastic stunts to rally spectators to cheer on a sports team.
With millions of dancers enjoying cheerleading in the USA, the activity has also caught on around the world. Requiring great flexibility in the legs, in addition to frenetic arm and hand movements, cheerleading offers a cheerful way of boosting your body’s strength and mobility.
Improves lower back strength - Poor posture is rife in everyday living, with office workers slumping in front of computer screens for hours on end. Thankfully, help could be at hand in the form of cheerleading exercise. Cheerleading workouts require great flexibility and mobility, in turn exercising the lower back where spine-straightening muscles are found.
Works the core muscles - Demanding lots of upper body movement, cheerleading offers a great workout for the body’s core muscles, to encourage good posture and stabilise the body’s trunk.
Fights fat - Cheerleading is a great way to burn off the calories and cut down on excess fat.
Styles of cheerleading dancing
Cheerleading dance moves are made up of a number of key jumps, stunts and motions. Here are some of the more popular cheerleading routines:
Pencil jump - This is one of the more simple cheerleading jumps to learn. The dancer leaps straight up in the air with the arms in a T-position and the legs pushed together, pointing straight downwards. The pencil jump is generally one of the first learned by cheerleading beginners and sets up the body for more complex jumps.
Pike jumps - In contrast to the pencil jump, the pike is one of the most difficult cheerleading jumps to carry out successfully. The cheerleader jumps up and stretches their legs as far apart as possible. In this aerial version of the splits, the arms are pushed together and pointed downwards.
High V and low V arm movements - These dance moves see the cheerleader alternate their arm movements by stretching them above the head in an upward ‘V’ position before lowering them below the waist in a downward ‘V’ motion.
Left L and right L - These moves require the cheerleader to form an ‘L’ shape with their arms, either on the left or right hand side of their body. In these positions, the cheerleader’s arms are positioned at right-angles to one and other.
What to expect from your first class
Cheerleading lessons are likely to be fun and friendly affairs, allowing beginners to get involved straight away and really feel like they are contributing. Cheerleading lessons are generally very welcoming, with patient staff teaching basic routines before building dancers up to more ambitious jumps and maneuvers. A lot of the time you don’t even need to bring your own pom poms to classes; just turn up and prepare to laugh away a couple of hours whilst working out at the same time.
Key cheerleading dancing tips
Unless you’re a hardened American cheerleader determined to win the national title, cheerleading dance exercise offers a hugely entertaining way of getting your body fit and healthy through happy and unashamedly cheesy jumps and moves. As a result, don’t worry about taking it all too seriously; just make sure you’re having a good time whilst enjoying the exercise.