The video that’s going viral of a Denver cheerleader being pushed into a split by her coach and teammates is, frankly, horrifying.
And it’s horrifying even to people who know best just how intense sports like cheerleading and gymnastics can be.
“At any given time, no child should ever be forced into a situation they don’t want to be in,” Elevate Gymnastics Academy owner Debbie Meyer tells ABC10.
The Elk Grove-based gymnastics and cheerleading coach says she’s been in the business for two decades – and has a physical therapy degree, to boot.
“That video – and I’ve seen it a few times already – it’s stated that the child says, ‘Stop,’ a few times over within that short amount of time,” said Meyer. “That’s all she had to say. If a child says, ‘No, stop,’ you stop.”
Rather than pushing or forcing cheerleaders or gymnasts into improving their flexibility, Meyer says she prefers hands-off exercises that gently “trick” athletes into stretching further.
Demonstrating with her 14-year-old daughter Lilly, Meyer shows how having an athlete contract their leg muscles while in a split position, and then relax the muscles, helps create a deeper stretch.
As with many goals, Meyer says there are no shortcuts when it comes to achieving splits or new skills.
“I’m honest. I will tell them it takes a little more time than they want. They want to make that cheer team at school really quickly, and they want that skill in a week or two, but their basics prior to that are not strong enough,” she said. “I’ll try my best, but I do have to be honest.”