Co-ordination, concentration – and a lot of fun.
That’s what cheerleading is all about and now the pom poms have come to Portsmouth.
A new class for children has been set up at the Mountbatten Centre, in Hilsea, and teacher Rachel Kearey says there’s more to this all-American past-time than you might expect.
‘It’s a bit of fun, a good way to exercise while having fun,’ she explains. ‘It’s also about trying to get children involved in something a bit different as well.
‘There are quite a few different elements involved. You’ve got dance, the motions – that’s the basic ‘T’ and ‘V’ shapes that we do – and gymnastics, so it’s quite physical.’
The classes take place on a Tuesday night between 5pm and 6pm. During that hour, children aged between five and 16 can practice learning the routines and performing them.
Rachel – who runs Chichester-based Razzle Dazzle Cheerleading – has been taking the classes for four weeks. In time, it’s hoped that enough children will join to enable her to split them into age groups. The squad can also work towards entering competitions.
For those who like to dance, cheerleading can be a chance to try something a bit different.
With its roots in the USA, the high-energy routines, mixing gymnastics with repetitive dance moves, soon spread to the UK.
Rachel now runs classes in schools across the Portsmouth area as well as her own squad, the Sussex Superstars.
‘We talk a lot about putting on your cheerleader face during classes,’ adds Rachel.
‘You need a big smile on your face when you’re cheerleading, you’ve got to look like you’re having a good time as well. It’s not just about the actions, it’s about the persona too.
‘There’s a lot of hard work that goes into cheerleading but you’ve got to look like you’re enjoying yourself.’
Pupils who sign up for 10 weeks of classes will get a set of free pom poms and the sessions are open to boys as well as girls. The classes are run on a drop in basis and cost £4.80.
‘Cheerleading is good for brain work, you have to remember the steps and all the rest of it,’ adds Rachel. ‘I think it’s also good for the children to be doing something outside of school where they’ll be mixing with people they wouldn’t normally meet to have fun and do some exercise.
‘Hopefully a lot of people will get a lot enjoyment out of it. It’s definitely a very enthusiastic form of exercise.’