Three evenings aweek, for three hours at a stretch, choreographer Trisia Brown leads theDolphins' 40 cheerleaders through a workout no less intense than those run byMiami coach Nick Saban in the adjacent practice bubble. The room thunders withthe impact of 80 three-inch high-heeled boots (which the cheerleaders nevertake off during their workout) hitting the hardwood floor as the women, ages 18to 36, power through routines with only one five-minute break.
Cheerleadingcombines elements of aerobics, plyometrics (a training discipline based onbounding and jumping) and yoga. The practices prepare the group for Sundaysthat include continuous dancing and kicklines on the sideline, and up to fourrigorous in-game routines, all for a wage of $75 per game. (Cheerleaders areeither students or have full-time jobs.) "You try walking around for fivehours in those boots and holding those poms," says Brown (left). "It'stougher than it looks." Here's how they get ready.
"Withoutstretching, neck injuries would be common," says team director HeatherFraga. Brandi Bloomberg (right) will hold this stretch for several seconds. Alimber neck also helps Bloomberg flaunt what she calls her "greatesttool": her hair.
Cheerleaderssuch as Janeen Chavarry (left) hold the pose for a minute, and alternate theforward leg. Splits (with arms overhead) stretch the hamstrings and quads,preparing the women for the hundreds of kicks they perform; the move alsodevelops strength in the legs and core, helping cheerleaders do jump splits,which, Brown says, "are a crowd-pleaser."
Megan Danforth(below) and her peers do about 15 pirouettes a practice. The spins are done onthe ball of one foot (with the other leg bent as shown) with abs tight and armsout front in a circle. Integral to several routines, spins improve balance andcoordination. Says Fraga, "They strive for doubles"--tworotations--"some do three, the best four. But that's rare."
For moreDolphins cheerleader photos go to SI.com/players.