Crash Course: CheerFIT is a cheerleading-inspired bootcamp that combines cardio intervals, sculpting circuits, stability exercises, and flexibility moves to deliver a full-body workout. The emphasis is on developing the strength and flexibility needed to get in shape and stay injury free, whether on the field or in the gym. No cheerleading experience is required, so check out the full schedule of classes and try it out![line] [left]where: Athleta | Flatiron
bring: team spirit
perks: your own set of poms, great playlist
sweat score: 6 out of 10[/left][right]wear: stable shoes
cost: $30 drop-in [/right][line]
It’s time to come clean: I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined going anywhere near pom-poms. Perhaps it was a side effect of going to an all-girls high school. Or residue from a life of playing sports that involved zero cheerleaders (other than my fantastically vocal parents, of course). I’m just not the kind of gal who naturally gravitates toward hair ribbons, short skirts, and stunts. Jazz hands might be my one exception, which I’m told is a distant cousin to spirit fingers. But the point of all this is to say that I had to do a double take when I realized that I had voluntarily signed myself up for a cheerleading-inspired workout. Me? Cheerleading? Peppy? Cue the laugh track.
But something drew me to CheerFIT despite the glistening poms and peppy moves. Danielle Wechsler is a former D-1 cheerleader who tore both her ACL and meniscus twice during her career. Not one to be sidelined by a setback, she took it upon herself to create a workout program that helped her rehab from those devastating injuries while also building up the strength and stability to get back in the game. Now called CheerFIT, Danielle has turned her workout into a successful fitness enterprise. She works with professional cheer squads, high schools, individual athletes, and non-cheer-related workout enthusiasts to deliver the same well-rounded workout to keep them in shape and remain injury free.
As someone who has also experienced the devastating setback of an injury, I connected with Danielle’s story and CheerFIT’s mission in a way I honestly didn’t expect. Would I ever sign up for a cheerleading workout just because I was interested in waiving pom-poms in the air for an hour? Not a chance. But a class that at its core is truly built around injury prevention, stability, building strength, and having a good time doing it? You bet.
The CheerFIT workout I attended took place early on a Saturday morning at the Athleta store on 5th Avenue. Danielle hosts her class in a few different venues around the city, so be sure to check her website for upcoming locations. She also offers CheerFIT bootcamp twice a week at Power Studios.
I walked into the store bundled up from head-to-toe, craving an extra large coffee and kind of dreading the peppiness I would need to conjure over the next 60 minutes. Let’s be real, 8:30 a.m. on a weekend is long before any of that naturally kicks in. I picked up two poms and made my way to a pink mat, wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. But then Danielle turned up the music (which was awesome, by the way) and led us right into a warm up that left me both sweaty and surprised. Turns out there’s some fire in her pep!
Every CheerFIT workout covers five key areas: stability, cardio, sculpt, abs, and flexibility. All of the moves are similar to what you would do in a bootcamp type class, with some yoga + pilates mixed in. There are also a few that are distinctly cheer related, like the one-leg squat to one-leg stand with arms overhead, shaking the poms furiously. Sweating mandatory. Smiling encouraged.
I was truly impressed at just how creative and challenging the workout was. Like I said, I walked in with expectations of “go team” and a few spirit fingers, and left with an effective full-body workout. Consider me schooled! Don’t be fooled by the pom-poms. They’re just fun distractions from the real work going on beneath the surface. Somehow having shimmery poms to shake while doing star jumps makes that crazy move almost bearable. Almost.
Thank you to Danielle for inviting me to crash CheerFit. I can’t say I would have walked through the door voluntarily, but I walked out of the door a believer in the unique, sweaty, and fun workout she developed. If you’re a former cheerleader, dancer, or someone looking for something to spice up your workout routine, I suggest giving it a shot!
After class we were treated to a few samples from Mamma Chia. I walked out of the store with this squeeze pack snack made of blackberries, purple carrot juice, and chia seeds. It was the perfect on-the-go post workout pick-me-up and really good. There is also a green option made with lots of veggies. I will definitely be searching for these in the grocery store to keep in my purse. You know I’m all about convenient and quick snacks made of healthy ingredients I can pronounce, so this is a welcome find for my snack shelf!
Would you trade hand weights for pom poms and try a cheerleading workout?