This afternoon I hopped on a treadmill at the gym to do my 6 mile run (it was 20* outside, too cold for me to run!). All the TVs at my gym are always tuned to the news channels and the occasional ESPN. Lucky for me, the 2009 UCA National College Cheerleading Championship was on! I love watching national cheer and dance competitions because they’re fun (obviously) and because these cheerleaders and dancers are truly athletes. This is a sport that they train vigorously for to perfect each and every movement.
Of course, this got me thinking about my high school dance team days. I wasn’t a cheerleader, but at my high school the cheerleaders and dance team were part of one big group called the spirit squad – cue the spirit fingers! We had the same sponsor/coach and she pushed our high school to accept us as an official sport. Officially, all this really meant was that we could get a varsity letter in cheer or dance. Unofficially, it taught us all so much more. Our coach made sure that if we were going to be considered a “sport”, then we needed to be athletes just like any other sport.
Our coach Becky was a gym teacher at the high school and had started the school’s first all-female weight-lifting class a few years before I started high school. She put her knowledge to good use and set-up a training plan for all of us that including running, strength-training and aerobics. She was also a Jazzercise instructor. Remember Jazzercise?!?! Yup, leotard and all 🙂
In the summers, we were all encouraged to participate in our school’s “Power Club”, which was basically the summer training program that all the football players did. We would show up each afternoon and warm-up with the football boys- stretching and doing their warm-up drills. We often went our separate way for the cardio portion of Power Club- the boys would do things like pull each other in harnesses (!) and we would run up and down the stairs of the football stadium, run on the track, run a route around the neighborhood or Jazzercise our hearts out. After this was done, we headed inside for strength training. We each had a workout mapped out for us and this is where I think I learned a very helpful lesson- the weight room isn’t scary. Even when it’s full of high school boys. Even when you hope one of them will ask you to Homecoming.
So, thanks, Becky, for encouraging me to get in shape and for teaching me skills and lessons that have certainly made me healthier in the long run. Of all the things you taught me, kicking my fear of the weight room is actually pretty low on the list.