Cheer-Fit trainer Natalie Hunt, previously a cheerleading flyer for Oval Cricket Ground, says the dance classes are a relaxed and friendly way to get in shape whilst developing social - and business - networks.
“It's a great cardio workout with core conditioning and flexibility exercises at its heart, followed by cheer dance routines, cheer skills and choreography.“
The cheerleading classes combine the workout benefits of a fitness class, the enjoyment and freedom of a dance class, and the creativity and social aspects of working in a choreography group. 'Skills' include jumps, cheer chants and stunts - beginner versions of the big tricks and pyramids familiar to us from the USA - all of which get built into performance style choreographies every few weeks.
“It's not quite like the movies!" Natalie says, “We embrace a healthy dose of British-style manners in our approach! Whilst we love the excuse to add American-style 'pep' to an hour and a half of the week, it's fun to work the weather, tea and things being 'not too bad' rather than 'awesome' into lyrics."
The fun format makes it a sneaky way of improving core strength, muscle tone, posture and fitness without noticing the hard work crammed into the opening thirty minutes. In addition, dance and choreography elements help increase mental health, encourage social interactions during class, and necessitate teamwork and trust.
Natalie says, “I coach a junior cheer squad for 6 to 16 years olds, The Barnes Jets, and I see how much the girls grow in self confidence, elegance and interpersonal skills. They're focused and helpful, great at problem solving and quick with team work; there's no reason why we shouldn't be exposed to these benefits as adults too."
And it's not just for girls; originally it was a sport performed by men at University matches. “Boys are welcome but they'll have to keep up with us!"
Cheerleading classes in Southwest London run Monday evenings 7:30pm-9pm at Putney's Vida Studios, with Cheer-Fit Cheerleading. (£9 - £12).
Natalie also coaches the Barnes Jets Junior Cheerleading Squad in SW13, who cheerlead for the Barnes Rugby Football Club and other local events.