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The lights dim, as a local gym’s newest squad takes the floor to show off their newly acquired tumbling skills, jumps and stunts. An MC introduces the group as AC/DC’s “Back in Black” begins to rail from the auditorium speakers. A crowd of teenage athletes holds up signs and begins to cheer wildly for individual members of the squad. Someone proudly yells out, “That’s my mom!” and a team of parent cheerleaders begins to perform.
Anyone who’s read our “Starting a Gym 101” series on theCheerProfessional website knows that launching a new all-star program can be a massive undertaking—from setting up the logistics to securing the right insurance to attracting clients. To find out what it really takes for a successful start-up, we spoke with three cheer professionals who’ve just completed their first year at the helm. See how TNT Cheer’s first season went…and what they learned.
At Sebring, FL-based Edge Cheer, athletes and their families end the year with a formal banquet full of awards, trophies and certificates. Owner Jenny Rowe says, “In this particular industry where it’s all about the team—and sacrificing and doing what’s best for the team—it’s a really big deal to get to individually recognize the strengths of these kids. We give them an opportunity to stand up in front of their parents and peers, [so they can have] their own particular moment of glory.”
We have been doing charitable work since the day our doors opened. At Cheer World, we are a family and we believe in being life coaches first and cheer coaches second. To that end, we band together as a family and get involved in our community in any way we can. Anyone can coach a back handspring. We pride ourselves on working on many other aspects of the kids, not just the athlete. We do it because it’s the right thing to do—both for our involved gym families and the community. Does volunteering at a festival bring attention to our program? Of course.
8:00 am: I do a devotional every day when I wake up; that’s really important to my life, because I’ve been given all these gifts. Everything I do, I want people to see Christ in me.
8:15 am: One of the first things I do is take care of social media stuff: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Messenger is a new one that’s kind of nice. I’m pretty active on social media, especially for my age! About three years ago I decided to post a tweet once a day, either inspirational or informational, about a skill. I’ve been doing that for three years—it’s called #debtips.
Your teams have the same skills as the competition, but your competitors are always getting higher scores. Is it time to hire a choreographer to work full-time at your gym? Or is it a smarter move financially to bring in an outside choreographer to craft one killer routine for the season? Each option has its pros and cons.
Anyone who’s read our “Starting a Gym 101” series on the CheerProfessional website knows that launching a new all-star program can be a massive undertaking—from setting up the logistics to securing the right insurance to attracting clients. To find out what it really takes for a successful start-up, we spoke with three cheer professionals who’ve just completed their first year at the helm. See how Ideal Cheer Elite’s first season went…and what they learned.
“If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble,” funnyman Bob Hope once quipped. It feels good to give back, but that might seem like a tall order if your weeks are filled with classes, meetings and competitions. Still, finding time to do philanthropic work can benefit your gym and, most importantly, your athletes.
Many gyms realize this and manage to make giving back a priority. In fact, according to Cheerleading.org, more than half of all cheer teams currently participate in community charity events.
International cheer consultant and coach Debbie Love is famous in the industry for emphasizing the importance of psychology in sports, but she admits that while competing as a college gymnast she wasn’t always a perfect picture of focus and concentration. In fact, she can pinpoint a specific instance when she realized she was relying mentally on magical thinking: “I wouldn’t tumble until I did a little ritual before my pass,” she says. “I had to stand there and close my eyes and say, ‘Okay, Debbie, you can do this. Now go.’ And if I didn’t say it, I wouldn’t go.”
Love trained herself to execute her routine without the mantra and trust the mechanics of her routine by repeatedly assuring herself, “You’re confident; you can do this.” Now, more than 50 gyms per year—including teams in South America, New Zealand and Scotland, along with Louisville-based GymTyme (which she’s affiliated with)—seek out Love’s expertise on mental block, injury prevention and technique.
Anyone who’s read our “Starting a Gym 101” series on the CheerProfessional website knows that launching a new all-star program can be a massive undertaking—from setting up the logistics to securing the right insurance to attracting clients. To find out what it really takes for a successful start-up, we spoke with three cheer professionals who’ve just completed their first year at the helm. Check out our first case study on Pittsburgh Pro All-Stars.
Amanda Dauzat wasn’t always a cheerleader who prayed. The founder of Denver, CO-based Youth Alive Cheer didn’t discover a spiritual connection with cheerleading until she attended a small Christian college. There, through the guidance of her cheer coach, she developed a relationship with the divine. Now Dauzat offers other youth the opportunity to combine athleticism with faith. “The way I view faith-based programs is like any other,” said Dauzat. “We are a cheer program that wants to teach [our students] life lessons. We choose the Bible to be our guide.”
Got your blinders handy? Amy Faulkner’s dedication to the Northstar Studios community shines bright. As founder, owner and coach, she has grown the cheerleading studio to become a welcoming beacon in Sunbury, Ohio. Faulkner first started Northstar Studios in 2008 shortly after her husband returned from a military tour in Iraq. Since then, the business has outgrown two studios to become what it is today: an 8,000 sq.-ft. space that plays home to five teams, 80 competitive athletes, 150 recreational athletes and a lot of community spirit. That spirit has been kicked up a notch lately, thanks to Faulkner’s latest accomplishment: being named “2014 Coach of the Year” by AmeriCheer and CheerProfessional.
Like the splitting up of once head-over-heels newlyweds, the parting of ways in business is often tricky, sad and more than a little complicated. Add in the complexities of an all-star cheer business, and breaking up can get downright sticky. So what happens when one of the partners of an all-star gym wants to retire or pursue other passions? Legal experts advise not waiting until one person is ready to retire—or wants out—to discuss what will happen with your beloved gym.
Troy Hedgren landed in the all-star cheer world by chance, but he nailed it. Today he’s one of four co-owners of the rapidly growing Pacific Coast Magic, but the former gymnastics coach first started his entrepreneurial career at age 19 with the Tumblebus, a mobile gymnastics school for pre-schoolers. In 1995, he sold the venture to open his first gym, Gymnastics 4 Kids, with his wife Keri. While sponsoring the local Pop Warner cheer team at a competition, the Hedgrens ran into one of Keri’s former gymnastics students, whose parents clued them into the competitive all-star world of tumbling, stunting, dancing and flying.
The good news: Private lessons can certainly add an extra layer of perceived value for gym clientele. The bad news: at times, offering privates can also add more hassle for gym owners between scheduling, pay structure, and other considerations. However, in the end, most gym owners, coaches and parents agree that private lessons offer an array of benefits that make it worth the effort. Find out how gyms around the country handle this popular revenue stream.
It’s Friday night at the Cheer Pride All-Stars gym in Whippany, NJ. Coach Erin Shane signals The Summit-bound Junior Level 1 team to enter the gym. Clad in fire-colored practice gear with bows neatly placed on their crowns, 15 female athletes quietly line up in four rows, hit a “T” and prepare to perform a timing drill for jumps.
Shane begins to clap to the rhythm of her counting to keep the team’s unified left kicks timed to her beat. The team doesn’t flinch as she pauses to hit a strong, poised “T” to demonstrate proper motion technique. The squad reaches 20 kicks smoothly and quickly, then Shane continues the process again on the opposite side.
As home to the premier F5, the Maryland Twisters are no strangers to high expectations. Pressure from industry leaders, judges and fans to “keep delivering and over-delivering” can be intense, but gym owner Tara Cain insists that championship titles (of which they have many) are not the end goal for a Twister—it’s having fun. “At the end of the day, the kids sacrifice two to three days a week at practices, all year long, because they love what they do,” says Cain.
When Randy Dickey, owner of South Carolina-based ACX Cheer and head of the All- Star Gym Association, unexpectedly had to fly a photographer to an event, the exorbitant price of the airline ticket stunned him. But when he pulled out his credit card, he solved the problem—without spending a dime. Ever since Dickey first signed up for the American Express Platinum Business Card in 1999, he has been covering gym expenses and reaping significant benefits. “We run everything in the business through the credit card,” says Dickey.
It’s a question of objectivity—can judges “turn it off” when they take the stand? Some gym owners and coaches say “no,” taking issue with event producers who allow judges that have some form of past or current affiliation with programs on the competition roster. Others say that because of the prevalence of cheer gyms, it’s almost impossible to find a whole panel of judges that don’t have some sort of knowledge or background with at least one of the gyms involved; they also argue that judges should be trusted to be professional and impartial. So who’s right? We spoke with Ron Swanson of Kansas Gymnastics & Cheer and Becky Woodson of Daytona Xtreme to explore the issue.
ICE began in 1998 with Darlene Fanning renting space from a local gymnastics facility for a program of approximately 60 kids. According to Fanning, the program “quickly outgrew the space” and two other facilities before landing in their current Mishakawa location in 2007. In 2009, ICE expanded to Fort Wayne, and in 2011, the program opened a third location in Aurora. This year, a big part of the gym’s growth has been the reintroduction of ICE’s dance program—we asked owner Darlene Fanning to share the details.
For our “Go, Go Gadget!” review feature, we asked the athletes at Oklahoma Twisters to road test the MyoSource Cheer Kinetic Bands. Designed to improve jumps, flexibility and overall performance, MyoSource’s Cheer Kinetic Bands are leg resistance bands geared at ages seven and higher. They come in two sizes (for those under and over 110 pounds). The product also comes with a flexibility stretching strap that can help ease stress on joints and provide a practice tool for scorpions and heel stretches.
Intrigued by our story on mentoring and networking and its growing importance in the all-star industry? Hear testimonials from three cheer professionals who swear by making the connection: “I make it a point each year to attend as many conferences as I can. These conferences allow me to learn from others’ experiences and ways they’ve more »
Love the new USASF junior coaches’ training curriculum? Thank Courtney Kania-Young of Ohio Extreme All-Stars, whose idea sparked the initiative—with a little help from her mentor, Orson Sykes of Twist & Shout.
Hungry for better safety/emergency initiatives? You’ll be appreciative of the work being done by Houston Elite’s Joshua Johnson (mentored by Ann Lehrman) and Karrie Tumelson (mentored by Debbie Love). Johnson’s proposal for Standardized Emergency Action Plans and Tumelson’s recommendations for Universal Safety Standards for the warm-up room will soon be implemented at USASF events during the 2014-2015 season.
Creating a thriving program is often the impetus for starting an all-star cheer gym—but what happens when that accomplishment generates considerable demand? How do you answer the call to open another location? CheerProfessional asked three gym owners who took the leap and expanded based on their own initial success.
Learn how CheerForce, Inc. tackles the challenge while maintaining the integrity of their brand.
Could the addition of a dance program be something to cheer about at your all-star gym? The sector has certainly seen significant growth in the last five years, with the 2008 debut of the Dance Worlds and many gyms introducing dance teams. USASF dance committees were formed in 2011 to help foster that growth, and 25 event producers now give bids to Dance Worlds. Being part of this emerging trend comes with both risks and rewards for any gym. Though a dance program can diversify your offering and/or boost your bottom line, it’s important to consider elements like scheduling issues, staffing and costs.
Jamie Gumina distinctly remembers being on the bus with her team and about to leave for JAMFest Super Nationals in Indianapolis five years ago. Energy was high, as the team had worked hard to prepare for the event—but that’s when she realized her base was missing. “We called her, and she said she couldn’t come because she was sick,” Gumina recalls. It was a huge setback for the group from Blue Springs, MO-based Gage Center, but cheer director Gumina got to work quickly.
When Jam’s Athletics owner Elizabeth Marsh and her teams arrived at the Cheer Nation Nationals, they were looking forward to the opportunity to compete; in fact, one of the Jam’s Athletics teams was preparing for their first-ever performance. Instead, they got a heartbreaking surprise. “The day of the competition, we came in, and there were no mats, pretty much nothing set up,” says Marsh, who was approached by a rep for event organizer Halee Yates to see if they could borrow Jam’s Athletics mats and spring floor at the last minute. This was not only an unusual request from an EP, but a tall order.
It may sound like just another trendy buzzword, but “volun-tourism” is a very real trend. A 2008 study by Tourism & Research Marketing found that an estimated 1.6 million volunteer tourists take “ethical” holidays where they have an opportunity to experience another culture while performing philanthropic actions. If you’re thinking about joining their ranks, get inspired by these three inspiring stories from cheer professionals who’ve been there and done that:
It’s not uncommon for parents to become close when their kids cheer together. What is unusual is for that friendship to blossom into a full-fledged, profitable and fun business. For Wanda and Gary Whipkey, Caryn Hale and Laura Dudley of Tallmadge, Ohio, starting American Elite Cheerleading in 2005 made sense because of their combined enthusiasm and experience volunteering at the all-star gym where their daughters trained. They just weren’t the ones who came up with the idea.
Creating a thriving program is often the impetus for starting an all-star cheer gym—but what happens when that accomplishment generates considerable demand? Many business owners answer the call for expansion and go on to open multiple locations. To learn more about this approach, CheerProfessional asked three gym owners who took the leap and expanded based on their own initial success. Learn how the Stingrays tackle the challenge while maintaining the integrity of their brand.
5:00 or 6:00 am: I get up early in the morning to work out before the girls wake up. (I have two little girls: 3-year-old Ruby Jane and 1-year-old Eleanor.) 90 percent of my workout is straight running—right now, I use the treadmill because it’s been so darn cold [in Kentucky], but I’ve done a couple marathons and a bunch of half-marathons and smaller races. Then I shower, drop Ruby Jane off at pre-school around 8:30ish and come to the office.
When JAM Brands co-founder Dan Kessler tried cheerleading for the first time at the University of Louisville after two years of playing collegiate soccer, his friends told him he was a natural at stunting. But he still had to learn the techniques from the ground up: a toss hands, then a toss hands extension, then a liberty, then a top hand. “[Stunting] was a new athletic skill that I had to conquer and try to perfect,” he says. “That addiction of getting better kept me going to practice and working.”
Considering getting incorporated? We asked legal expert Trippe Fried to give us the skinny on several types of corporations that may work well for gym owners: Subchapter S-corporations (“S-corp”): Profits and losses flow through to the owners. There are some requirements to qualify, the key one being that all of the owners must be U.S. more »
At this stage in her cheer career, Jackie Lindom does it all. Besides managing the Twisters Elite Cheer & Dance Gym in Lake Villa, Ill., Lindom also coaches, helps with choreography for various teams and judges for Xtreme Spirit and several rec competitions. (Oh, and she is just 21 years old.) Having been a cheerleader since age five, Lindom made the transition from competitor to coach/gym manager shortly after competing at Worlds in 2010 and has continued to expand her role—inside the gym and out—throughout the years.
As a new gym owner, looming legal and business matters can flummox you—among them the decision whether to file as an LLC or corporation. Infiniti Elite Athletics owner Cari Ann Bulzone says filing as an S-corp was one of the first things she did when she took over the program from its previous owner in 2012—and it was a learning experience every step of the way. “It’s not something to take lightly; gym owners should definitely do their homework,” says Bulzone, who used LegalZoom as a resource and to facilitate filing.
Now that you know all about supplements and whether they’re right for you and your athletes, here are four to consider for better health and performance: B Vitamins: Provide energy for cellular function in active adults and athletes, who are often lacking the necessary reserves. Sleep deprivation and stress can be a culprit in depleting more »
We’re all familiar with the cheer powerhouses, organizations like Top Gun, California All Stars and Cheer Athletics, whose names and accolades easily come to mind. But among these giants, Brandon All-Stars has slowly and quietly emerged out of Brandon, Fla. (a suburb of Tampa), and is poised to take its place in the spotlight.
In Morgantown, all-star gym Champion Training Academy sells USANA nutritional supplements and weight loss products as part of its adult weight loss/group fitness program. Over in Katy, Texas, Xcel Athletics All-Stars hosted a Valentine’s Day shopping event earlier this year at which one of the vendors was Advocare. Some gyms are also selling Advocare on-site, such as Green Bay-based Tri County Gymnastics & Cheer, and many cheer professionals moonlight as Advocare reps in addition to their work at the gym.
Need a legal leg to stand on when it comes to others copying your gym? One attorney says that your imitator may be liable of “causing confusion.” “There’s no reason in the world why a gym cannot have a trademark in its name [or] its logo. And there’s no reason that a gym can have more »
Creating a thriving program is often the impetus for starting an all-star cheer gym—but what happens when that accomplishment generates considerable demand? Many business owners answer the call for expansion and go on to open multiple locations. To learn more about this approach, CheerProfessional asked three gym owners who took the leap and expanded based on their own initial success. Learn how All Star Legacy tackles the challenge while maintaining the integrity of their brand.
You’ve worked hard to establish your own gym, creating a unique identity with colors, logo and uniforms. A few years later, having built a solid reputation, you’re at an event when in swaggers a brand-new team—wearing colors very similar to yours, a logo that looks awfully close to yours and (wait for it) practically the same name as yours, just with a different spelling.
Is this a scenario for yet another Bring It On movie? Unfortunately, no. It’s an all-too-common occurrence for many all-star cheer programs.
Did you ace our industry quiz? Enhance your knowledge even more with our comprehensive timeline of industry trends and innovations—from rebate plans to stay-to-play to custom uniforms—and find out how they came to fruition. (Please note: this is a living document! We are continually updating and adding more information. If you would like to add updates to our timeline, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).
With all of the developments in our ever-evolving industry, it can be hard to keep up. For handy reference, we’ve compiled a thorough timeline of how some of today’s hottest trends and innovations came about (and the companies that pioneered them). But before it publishes this Wednesday, take our quiz below to find out how much you know—then check out the answers in our sneak preview!
For the second year in a row, CheerProfessional tapped four of the industry’s cheer “leaders” for a spirited panel discussion on our industry and its future. Check out our “State of the Union” panel for 2014 and read what they have to say.
Number 10 on our list is to set up an in-house office system for recordkeeping and accounting. Many new business owners tend to put this on the back burner or contract it out to “someone who likes math,” and it can soon become cancerous. Improper record keeping or accounting can become a business owner’s worst nightmare, so attention to detail is extremely important.
As the divide between small and large gyms grows wider, it’s not uncommon for gyms to merge in an attempt to pump up profits and competitive power. On the surface, the reasons to merge seem clear—building a larger membership base or having the means to form a stronger coaching staff. But dig deeper and you’ll find that a number of other motivating factors are often at play, from strengthening the local cheer community to wanting to benefit the athletes. For our “Behind the Merger” series, we caught up with Kayla Wygal of West Virginia Cheer Academy.
Many gym owners—and parents—have long appreciated the autonomy of making their own travel arrangements for competition, due to the flexibility and options afforded by this approach. However, more event producers are now requiring “stay to play” (requiring that teams stay in a designated room block set up by a third-party company in order to compete). The practice has sparked debate inside the industry: some gym owners are boycotting these types of events, on the grounds that rooms are being egregiously marked up and that it creates less choice for budget-conscious families. However, event producers maintain that stay-to-play is necessary in order to maintain ongoing relationships with the venues and cities their customers have come to love. See what Cheer Zone owner Tamara Reed and Cheer Power’s Regina Symons have to say on the topic.
For our new “Go, Go Gadget!” review feature, we asked the team at Georgia Tech to road test the Cheer Balance Pro Pedestal.Harrison owns four Cheer Balance pedestals, which he rotates among his flyers and uses during summer training. Each flyer follows the same circuit: liberty, arabesque, stretch, scale, bow & arrow, scorpion. “When you pull all of those, you really have to work your hip flexors, abs, core, ankle and leg—really focusing on keeping yourself centered over the pole,” Harrison explains.
As the divide between small and large gyms grows wider, it’s not uncommon for gyms to merge in an attempt to pump up profits and competitive power. On the surface, the reasons to merge seem clear—building a larger membership base or forming a stronger coaching staff. But dig deeper and you’ll find that other motivating factors are often at play, from strengthening the local cheer community to wanting to benefit the athletes. For our “Behind the Merger” series, we caught up with Sydney McBride to learn more about the Legendary Athletics merger.