If you’re a flyer, the number of things you need to do can be daunting: eat right, stretch daily, maintain your physical endurance and strength, stay focused, keep your shoes and uniform updated, hit your stunts…the list goes on. How are you supposed to manage everything? Here, we’re looking at the entire picture, from shoes to daily stresses, and we have some tips on how to keep it all balanced. Basics We’ve talked about the importance of good cheer shoes before, and it warrants mentioning again. You’re ahead of the game if you start off on the right foot by choosing a shoe that’s specifically made for flyers, and consequently, bases. Look for a lightweight, comfortable shoe that features hand grips, like the Kaepa Touch, Chasse Core, or Adidas Cheer Flyer (all available at Omni Cheer). These types of shoes will not only help you perform your best by staying light in the air, they will also help your bases get a good grip on your feet as you stunt. Once your feet are handled, it’s time to start thinking about, well, everything else. Good fitness is about maintaining your body, nutrition, and mind. As a flyer, you have to be strong, both internally and externally, and we have a few ideas on how to achieve perfect harmony. Nutrition Everyone is always talking about fad diets: how the cookie diet worked for one celebrity, and the juice diet worked for another. We’ve all tried them hoping for instant success and end up feeling deprived, hungry, and when we inevitably slip up, defeated. Instead of looking for a quick-fix diet, focus on what works: eating clean and keeping everything in moderation. Not only will eating this way allow you to get the most out of your workouts, it will improve your ability to concentrate and even your immune system. A stronger immune system is a great benefit, because getting a cold? Ain’t nobody got time for that! If you’re wondering how to balance your meals, try filling half of your plate with a mix of high fiber fruits and vegetables in varying colors of the rainbow, as recommended by ChooseMyPlate.gov. Aim for low-fat dairy products and choose lean protein options like fish, chicken, tofu, and beans. Try to make at least half of your grains whole grains, and keep added sugars to a minimum. There are so many interesting and nutritious options out there, it’s easy to switch up your choices and prevent feeling deprived or bored. Fitness A flyer needs to be strong, flexible, and physically capable, so a weekly combination of strength training, cardio, and stretching is a great way to achieve a balanced body. Stretching is important not only for flexibility, but it also lowers the risk of injury and helps prevent sore muscles; remember to stretch before and after any physical activity. Cardio is the corner stone of all fitness regimens. Fitness expert Denise Austin told WebMD she recommends cardio, “for 20 minutes or more, on a schedule of about three to four times per week.” The best part about cardio is there are so many options (walking, running, swimming, dancing, Zumba, etc.) it’s easy to find the right one for you. For variety, make a weekly schedule focusing on different types of strength training on different days of the week, either before or after your cardio sesh. On Monday, do some core building exercises. On Tuesday, focus on strengthening your legs. On Wednesday, do some yoga or Pilates, two of my favorite ways to focus on balance, endurance, and flexibility all at once. On Thursday, dedicate some time to stretching and working on your balance. On Friday, work on training for your upper body. Just remember not to overwork any one muscle group. For example, we all want washboard abs, but doing crunches every day won’t actually make them appear any faster. “A lot of people go overboard,” Jim White, RD, ACSM, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, VA, told fitbie.com. “They’ll do abs 7 days a week and won’t allow for any rest. That just damages the muscles.” Your muscles become stronger as they rebuild themselves after a tough work out, so be sure to spread out your strength training! Mind A very important part of fitness that is often overlooked is your mental well-being. We all have stresses that affect us daily, whether it’s school, work, friends, boyfriends, practice, drama at school…you get it, the list can sometimes seem unending! While a certain amount of stress is normal and can even help keep us motivated, too much stress can negatively affect your health. It can lead to sleepless nights, headaches, difficulty focusing; too much stress can even make us get sicker more often! While you’re busy focusing on your nutrition and your physical strength, take time out for your mental health, too, and relax for a few minutes every day. If you find yourself short on time and the thought of taking focus away from one of the necessary tasks on your to-do list makes you even more stressed, don’t worry, just combine stress relief with something you’re already doing! While you stretch, take deep breaths and clear your mind from anything other than your own body and muscles. If you’re not already, try an activity like yoga. The practice of yoga focuses on breathing and being present in your body, making it easy to let go of daily stresses while also getting in your flexibility training. Yoga not for you? Find something that is and work it into your schedule! Dance around your room to a favorite song, zone out on a long run, watch a YouTube makeup tutorial and practice your application, meditate, play with your dog — if it calms you down and relieves stress, do it! Perfection Wait, perfection?! We thought the goal was to be balanced and less stressed? Don’t worry, it is. While it’s important to try to keep your mind and body in their best possible shape, it’s also important to remember that you’re not perfect, nor do you need to be! Don’t beat yourself up if you have a slice of cake at a friend’s birthday, or skip a day on your exercise schedule. Focus on everything that you have been able to accomplish, not only what you haven’t yet crossed off your to-do list. Set realistic expectations, and love yourself even when you don’t always meet them. When you approach life positively, your health, happiness, and your team will thank you.