I Tried It: Cheerobix

Channeling my inner cheerleader for an amazing workout.

Posted: 07/24/2013 01:08 PM EDT

(Photo: Courtesy of Kellee Terrell)

Without totally giving away my age, the last time I seriously picked up pom-poms and did a toe-touch, I was a senior in high school, Clinton was president and R. Kelly’s “Down-Low (No One Has to Know)” was the most popular song in R&B.

Yeah, it’s been a minute. But knowing that I’ve been in a workout rut on and off for the past year, something needed to change.

Thankfully at dinner last week, a few of my girlfriends were raving about Cheerobix, this class they were going to take at Indigo Studio in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago.

“Oh Kellee, it’s amazing. You have to come!”

I thought about it and, hey, as long as no more than an hour long, doesn’t feel like a workout and I leave drenched in sweat, I’m sold. Cheerobix is it.

So what exactly is Cheerobix?

It’s pretty simple. Co-founded by fitness pros and cheerleading fanatics Matthew Hollis and Jena Ertel, Cheerobix is a fusion of cheerleading and dance moves that are choreographed to music.

Ertel, who taught the class that day, told me, “Matthew had a cheer dance troupe and we were like, 'This is a really good workout. We should make it into something and teach it.'”

In creating this class and community, Ertel emphasized that it was important for them to create an environment that wasn’t cliquish, but embodied teamwork and togetherness and most important was welcoming.

And welcoming it was. The minute I walked into Indigo Studio, I was met with smiles and excitement. Part of the studio’s appeal is that it isn’t like most large chain gyms that can feel impersonal and overwhelming. There was incense burning, lemon-infused water for us to drink and fresh towels at our disposal.

I chatted with the super friendly owner Caitlin Tinnon, grabbed my blue and silver sparkly poms, walked into the studio and said a little prayer that I would not pass out before the class was over.

The class was packed wall-to-wall and within seconds Ertel yelled “Ready? OK!” And for the next hour, while listening to Gwen Stefani, Backstreet Boys, Destiny’s Child and other club mixes, I found myself kicking up legs, doing squats, doing precise movements with my arms (which were sore in a good way the next day) and shaking my hips around (my favorite part). I worked damn near every muscle in my body — muscles that haven’t been worked in a while.

Even when it got hard, Ertel would yell, “Hard work,” and the class yelled back, “But it’s worth it!” And it was worth it, because the class was really fun.

I’ll admit that I needed to slow down here and there to catch my breath. But that’s probably because it had been a while since I worked out at this high of an intensity level. But that’s what’s so great about this class and its atmosphere — you do what you can with no pressure to keep up.

Ertel emphasized to me that “Cheerobix is for anyone, regardless of size and fitness level.” And perhaps this “come as you are” attitude is why, as Tinnon told me, Cheerobix is the studio’s most popular class.

I left the studio feeling pretty confident that I would most definitely come back and take the class again. Which is a good thing.

Learn more about Indigo Studios and the other classes they offer here and learn more about Cheerobix here

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