A trip to Toronto for the National Cheerleading Championships in late November — gone. A visit to sunny Orlando, Florida in the dead of the Saskatchewan winter for the University World Cup Cheerleading Championships this past January — unattainable due to travel restrictions.
The story has been the same for virtually every other University of Saskatchewan sports team with a wiped out season. However, the drive is still there for the U of S cheerleading team.
To overcome government restrictions limiting sports teams from training together, the cheerleading team has tackled a modern problem with a modern solution.
Broadcasted live from PEAK Climb+HIIT studio in downtown Saskatoon, dozens of students tune in from different locations to follow the choreography of the same workout. It is thanks in part to PEAK owner MacKenzie Firus and cheerleading coach Rebecca Johnson.
The group workouts are scheduled at least once a week. Sometimes it is set inside the PEAK studio, other times, virtually via Zoom or a combination of the two.
A typical workout for the cheerleading team, titled HIIT Refresh, contains 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training waves followed by a 30-minute deep stretch. Each wave, lasting 30 seconds, features simple yet effective workouts, typically done with either body weight or light weights. For those following alone at home, the equipment required is simple, with just a few dumbbells and yoga blocks needed.
However, those in the studio will often hit the VersaClimbers, machines exclusive to PEAK aimed at increasing body conditioning and endurance. As the workout transitions into the second half, the lights are dimmed, soothing music is played and the deep stretch commences.
Johnson urges her team to exercise individually up to three times a week, supplying workouts along with videos from previous sessions to help motivate anyone who may need it.
The team’s hopes for a 2022 return to competition, both locally and internationally, remain high. However, the studio at PEAK Fitness+Climb, as well as the living room, will have to do for now for the University of Saskatchewan cheerleading team.