That’s right folks, Cheerleading is NOT a sport!
I’m making this statement because I believe it true for me. I started Cheer in my late teens; I wish I had the opportunity to start when I was younger! If it wasn’t for Cheer, I would be unhealthy, unfit and generally freaking miserable.
Initially, I joined cheerleading for something to do, I was not serious about it, however as time passed and inspired by all the videos, articles and columns about Cheer, passion for it grew. I was hooked.
It didn’t stop there, because of Cheer, I wanted to become fitter and stronger, this has nothing to do with losing weight or being skinny.
I started becoming more aware about what I ate. This also coincide with my decision to practice healthy eating. I found myself making healthier choices. When I’m shopping for food, most of my money would be spent on items in the produce aisle. I’d load my trolley with fresh whole foods as opposed to the processed food that my old self would purchase.
I’ve always been the ‘fat kid’. Even my parents noticed and on numerous occasions when I was a child, would try to help me make choices regarding food…which generally include, NO carbs, NO sweets, NO sugary drinks….as most of you will guess, it was not a success. That didn’t educate me on nutrition.
I vividly remember a time there was a big craze in Singapore and sliming centres were popping up everywhere, who could forget the celebrity endorsements! Around this time, I was at my unhealthiest; at wits end, my mother took me to one of the centres, which I thought was amusing and went along with as I saw the desperation in her eyes. I enjoyed most thoroughly the process of being covered in a paste of sorts and cling wrapped, sorry, slim wrapped (really it was GIANT cling wrap). Then I was told to sit in a sauna for 30-45 mins. I was bored to death within 5 mins!
It was probably the 3rd session when it was time to see the nutritionist. She asked me all the basic questions (how active are you, what do you eat….)before measuring my height and weight and conducted a density test. I can’t remember the exact number, but it revealed that I had a high percentage of both muscle mass and fat. When she got the results, she pointed out to me that I should STOP exercising so that I will loose muscle mass; it’ll turn to fat and they can get rid of it so I would become their next success story.
I was about 13-14, and that statement sounded stupid to me. After she had said that, I zoned out for the rest of the session and as soon as we had walked out of there, I told my mother bluntly that I will not be returning. She even agreed that it sounded ridiculous. She had even predicted that I would be bored to tears and would aspire to annoy her just for something to do. Also, the prescribed diet had cottage cheese, which kid in the right mind would eat cottage cheese?
Being part of a Cheer team means that everyone has to rock up to training. This also means that I can’t skip a training session just because. If we miss one person, it’s a gaping hole in a routine- stunts don’t go up, there might be a gap in the tumbling section, formations look wonky…
So Cheer training pretty much guarantees that I’ll be working out!
In my team, I base, this means I am responsible for chucking someone in the air and if I want to, catching them. Over time, I’ve noticed that I wanted to be stronger so that I can throw someone higher, do cooler skills and bask in generally awesomeness with my team.
This saw me frequenting the gym to do weight-training and yet again, it was not for personal aesthetics, it was for pure strength- BEAST MODE!
I had joined different gyms previously and would be really enthusiastic in the beginning, getting up early, before class or work and hitting the gym, I was pretty good for the first month or so before I started making excuses to skip a workout.
If you read my other posts, you would know that I’ve just joined a new gym with the Hubs (if not, read them….just saying) I found it great to have a training partner. I used to think that I would get distracted and the workout would not be beneficial. However, ever since training frequently with him, I have been pushing myself a lot more. I think I’m just competitive- so I try to match up with weights or do extra reps- these don’t happen very often, he’s a little too far ahead and the ‘flavour’ of the month is reps to near failure.
Cheer pushed me to be healthier and fitter, I use Cheer as a motivation towards healthier living and I think it works! My fitness goal is not to weigh a certain amount or have a certain percentage of body fat- to me, it’s too superficial and has no effect. I needed a higher order of preference/goals that is more substantial and sustainable.
In addition to all of this, I have the opportunity to coach various athletes and it has opened my eyes and brought a sense of pride when athletes attain their skills, their joy is infectious! I want to coach as my full-time job!
It also brings about a sense of purpose when I have the opportunity to role-model and show them what it means to be healthy- in the world in which we live in, where there is a misrepresentation of what is healthy, we as adults have an obligation to make sure our young ones are safe and that they grow up healthy, with confidence and understanding of what is perfect for each on of them.