4 unusual group workouts for Atlantans who hate the gym

ATL Adult Cheer

ATL Adult Cheer
ATL Adult Cheer

Illustration by Peter Arkle

What happens to cheerleaders when they grow up and find themselves pining for the fun of—or at least the bodies sculpted by—flipping across a mat, tossing one another into the air, or piling into a human pyramid? They join ATL Adult Cheer. “When I created the group, I’d been away from the sport for almost 10 years,” says founder and erstwhile high school cheerleader Ashley Nealy. “As a teenager, I was pretty fearless. Flying in the air as an adult is definitely scarier. But once you stick a stunt, the feeling is as radiant as it always was.”

The group meets on Sundays for cheer practice and on Tuesdays for tumbling. Most members are in their mid-20s to early-30s, and many have a cheerleading or dance background, though beginners are welcome. This year the team put together a routine that they showed off at an April showcase and at a national competition the same month—where they took first place. meetup.com/atlanta-adult-cheerleading-meetup

How to train for it
Nealy recommends stretching every day and building up your cardio endurance by running or taking dance classes.

Fitness benefits
Tumbling, jumping, and cheer routines improve flexibility, strength, and stamina. Leg muscles see a lot of action, but so does the upper body—particularly if you can do acrobatic moves, or you’re helping to hurl other cheerleaders in the air.