The beauty of a cheerleading team is that everyone has a specific role on the team, and without each other, the team doesn’t exist. Period. End of discussion. Here are a few specific tips for flyers. The flyer is the gravity defying individual you see being thrown into the air or contorting their bodies into ridiculous shapes such as a “bow and arrow” and “scorpion” while balancing on a bunch of hands. Now would be the time that I ask you to rub your belly and pat you head while jumping in circles…kidding! Either way you look at it, these girls need to be capable of making the audiences’ head spin! So if you think your ready to be a flyer or want to improve your flying skills, read on! Cheerleading flyers have a duel responsibility of being flexible and muscular. There are three important attributes a flyer must have and remember when planning a fitness routine: a strong legs and core, impeccable balance and extreme flexibility. Today, we will start with the most important but most overlooked part of the fitness routine for flyers: the core. I have gotten many, many questions from cheerleaders on why they are off balance and why they are extremely flexible but can’t perform a toe touch. Here is the answer to every cheerleaders burning questions on performance: if you have a strong core, you can prevent injury, touch your toes and have impeccable balance. So here it is. A how-to-build-your-core list that will have you flying high in not time! Crunches: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your palms behind your head, elbows parallel with the ground and face towards the ceiling. Tighten your ab muscles and raise your upper body through your shoulders towards your knees. Hold the position for a second and then get into the starting position once again. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Side crunches: Assume the starting position of a crunch (see above). Drop your knees to one side on the floor but keep them bent. Your body will now be slightly on its side. Place your palms behind your head and inhale before you perform the side crunch. You will be primarily using your oblique muscles to bring your body up into a side crunch. Your side will bend as your shoulder lifts off the mat into the crunch. As you are coming up, slowly exhale. Be sure that your head remains in line with your neck the whole time you are performing the crunch to prevent neck strain. Hold the position for a second and slowly lower your upper body back to the floor. Repeat on that one side and then switch sides to perform the side crunch using your other set of oblique muscles. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Alternate Toe Touches: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with your knees bent and with toes touching the floor. Place your palms behind your head, elbows parallel with the ground and face towards the ceiling. Keeping your right knee bent, lift it while bringing your left arm up and out to touch the right toe. Alternate, bringing your right arm up to touch the left toe. Remember to keep the non-moving leg firmly on the floor. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. If your neck hurts, modify the exercise by holding your head with your hands and lifting it up towards the ceiling for each repetition. Continue to alternate legs. Leg Lifts: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with arms extended alongside the body, palms down. Keep your shoulders, head and lower back flat against the surface. Lift your legs up until they’re at a right angle to your hips. Lower your legs slowly and stop within a few inches above the floor. Hold your legs there for a couple of seconds. Slowly raise your legs back to the starting position and hold for a couple of seconds again. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Also, start the exercise easier by lowering the legs to about a 30-degree angle. Increase the impact of your leg lifts by lowering your feet as close to the floor as possible. Super Mans: Lie facedown on an exercise mat or the floor. Keep your legs together and straight, with your arms straight and extended above your head. Keep your head and neck in a neutral position. Keeping your limbs straight (but not locked) and your torso stationary, lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling at the same time to form a gentle curve with your body. You should literally feel like Super Man flying through the air. Hold for a slow 30 counts. Remember: don’t hold your breath! Try to keep breathing steady and even. If you need to make it easier, hold the Super Man position for fewer counts and don’t raise legs and arms quite as high. Side Plank: Lie on your side with your right hand on an exercise mat or the floor. If your a beginner, it is recommended to begin this exercise on your elbow. Lift yourself up to form a “plank” with your right arm straight and your left arm on your side. Hold this position for a count of 8-12. If you want to take the Side Plank to the next level, take your left hand and extend it to the ceiling. You might find it easier to hold your balance by turning your head to gaze at your left hand. Repeat with the other side. Remember to keep your body in a straight line, tightening your abs and butt muscles. No hunching forward! That’s cheating! It’s a good idea to start in front of a mirror to learn the technique. Remember to breathe! Try to keep breathing steady and even throughout the entire exercise. Keep up this fitness routine and you’ll have a washboard in no time.