The next time you hear people say cheerleading is easy or shouldn't be a sport, instead of showing them a bruise or telling them one of your war stories, just tell them some MMA fighters think cheerleading is more difficult than professional fighting.
Brothers Don and Ed Moroney cheer on the Weber State Spirit Squad and are also MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters. We know a lot of multi-sport athletes, but the college cheer-pro fighting combination is a first for us.
MMA fighting basically lets opponents use tactics from different styles of fighting—
like karate, boxing, kickboxing, and wrestling, to name a few—to try to either knock out their opponents or hurt them bad enough that the referee determines they can't defend themselves. So having done both cheerleading and MMA for years now, guess which one the Moroney brothers say is more difficult?
"Between football, wrestling, cage fighting, and anything like that, cheerleading is by far the hardest sport I've ever done, and the most painful," Don told the Standard Examiner
. "I've been a professional cage fighter for five years now, and I have never been so hurt more consistently
(than I have) with cheerleading."
The brothers explained that part of what makes cheer so hard on your body
is the impact on your joints and the elbows of teammates.
But, as any cheerleader knows, it's also hard to do.
Don started cheerleading a few years after his brother and was surprised by how much he had to learn.
"I had no idea of the kind of athleticism it takes," he said. "I saw them in high school, but I didn't know the potential, how hard it was, and how much of an athlete you have to be. Learning all of that in one year of cheer was intense."
More people are starting to catch on to the intensity of cheerleading like the Moroneys did. In fact, there's a new cheer-based workout trend that even non-cheerleaders are using to get in shape
. A program called Lithe Plan is already offering popular classes in major U.S. cities.
"You utilize every ounce of yourself—it's total-body and very core-focused," the program's founder, Lauren Boggi, told Bustle
. "People definitely do brush off cheerleading as a workout. They think of people sitting on the sidelines and waving pom-poms around."
Lauren was a cheerleader all her life and said she couldn't find a workout routine as intense as cheer after graduation. "I recently ran into another ex-cheerleader who said, "'Do you find you just can't get the same workout doing anything else?' and I was like, "'Yes!' and that's exactly why I started Lithe."
Is cheerleading the most difficult sport you've done?