I am a part of my college’s cheer-leading squad.
I know, right? Me.
Anyone who knows me in any shape, way or form would not expect this of me. Any mention of the word “exercise” and I’ll lie down, already knackered. It’s totally not me. Especially something that’s seen as so girly, preppy, dance-y, etc. But let me tell you, it’s so much more than that.
I first went out of curiosity, a couple of good friends of mine had been going since the beginning of the year and really loved it. One being an ex-dancer/gymnast: I was apprehensive. But, I needed an extra-curricular, and I was only just realizing just how unfit I really was (mostly exhibited by the fact I coughed up a lung every time I would climb a staircase). So, I went.
And I fell in love.
It was absolutely terrifying, of course. And not just because it was a room full of athletic, beautiful, graceful girls who could crush me with their little fingers. No, it’s the flying that I’m most scared of.
I’m what’s called a ‘flyer’ in cheer. Basically, I’m small, I’m extremely light, and have no upper body strength. These factors together mean that I must be that person who is chucked and flipped and lifted meters into the air at any given point. Yeah, that’s me. The one you all “ooh” at when you see the routines on ‘Bring It On’. Yep. (Of course, none of the routines we’ve ever done have been anywhere close to that kind of skill, God forbid).
And it is absolutely terrifying. Especially when you are being lifted by a group of people you’ve never even spoken to before, which is what happened at the start. Let me tell you, that’s a quick-ass way to gain some trust in people).
Now I really should mention the most terrifying parts of all: Full Extention and The Cradle.
So a normal stunt is being lifted safely by a group of three people, one on each side and one supporting the back of your legs. Going to Full Extension means these people then stretch all arms, and you are only resting on the palms of their hands, with no back base, and nothing but your own leg strength to keep you from crumbling face first onto the (soft-looking but mostly unforgiving) mats below. Pretty terrifying.
Then, on top of that… The Cradle. The bit I dreaded for weeks and weeks until I finally figured that if I’m gonna die, it’s gonna be doing something bad-ass. So anyway the cradle is when, after you’ve been lifted and done some poses in the air (as you do), the group below has to bend down, and put all their strength into tossing you up (as in, literally being thrown) into the air, and catching you.
It’s bloody terrifying.
Apart from those brushes with death, overall the experience is a good one. I made friends, I got healthier (still can’t touch my toes though, I’m working on it) and I have a good time. It’s not something I ever in a million years imagined myself doing but, hey, what is? Why not try new things, even if they seem stupid to begin with?
Plus, it’s a bomb-ass thing to put on applications.