Ashton club showing cheerleading is not just for youngsters

IT WOULD be fair to say cheerleading is seen as the domain of younger people – but an Ashton-under-Lyne based club is disproving that stereotype.

And The Cheer Lab’s adult team is proving a huge hit, both in competition and boosting the community’s fitness levels.

Based on Lower Wharf Street, it has established itself a community hub in recent years under the stewardship of experienced coach Becci Cunningham.

The adult group was created 12 months ago in response to high demand from 25 to 40-year-olds with a view to improving their fitness levels in a fun and friendly environment.

Sessions have reinvigorated an interest in physical activity for many of the club’s members – and certainly have for one in particular.

Rosie Middleton, from Mossley, joined the adult team upon its creation in March 2023.

Little did she know, however, that less than 12 months later her efforts would be rewarded with a second-place finish at a highly-rated competition.

Now, having proved that age is just a number, she is urging more people to join the team in a bid to create something special ahead of the next competition in six months’ time.

Speaking to The Correspondent, 32-year-old Rosie said: “I did cheerleading for four years while I was at university around 12 years ago.

“I moved to Mossley eight months ago and was searching for something similar. Thankfully, I came across the Cheer Lab which provides a class for people aged 25-40.

“The oldest member of the team is 40, and quite a few of the members are parents to the children who also represent the club.

“It’s quite rare for a cheerleading team to be made up of the ages who represent our team.

“You tend to find that people my age will steer off into Zumba classes or gym-related activity, but there’s a lot of interest to get involved in cheerleading and so far, it seems to be working well.

“Two of our members, Emma and Emily, have been cheerleading with Becci since year seven. They progressed together through the years, separated for a period while doing their own thing, but have since reunited and created the team 12 months ago.

“I’m so glad that they did as I’ve had so much fun doing it, and, as a team, we’ve smashed the barriers and misconceptions surrounding the age range and ability levels needed to compete in the sport.

“Cheerleading incorporates so many different elements that are beneficial to physical and mental health.

“The blend of cardiovascular and strength-related exercises, along with the team building that comes as a result of the routines, is something that makes the sport so enjoyable.

“We’re now looking forward to the next competition and hope there will be a bigger uptake in numbers to strengthen our chances of going one step further and winning.

“Although the main objective is to train, have fun and improve fitness levels in the process, there is no doubt that we aim to be the best we can be and win competitions.”

Opened in 2020 and faced with numerous issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cheer Lab has defied the odds, cultivated a mass following and currently offers a spectrum of classes for all ages and abilities, ranging from tumble and dance to fitness and cheerleading.

And it appears the club has no intention to stop its outreach to the local community, with a Zumba session launched in February and an autism friendly class to be held every Friday and Saturday from April onwards.

It is all part of the club’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of local residents in the area – regardless of their circumstances or experience within the fitness industry.

Rosie attributes the club’s success, across all age levels, to Becci’s enthusiasm and vast experience within the dance industry.

Having danced as a youngster herself, before gaining qualifications and teaching the sport at Copley Academy in Stalybridge, it appears Becci’s efforts are bearing fruit, as 100 students pass through the doors on a weekly basis to compete in 20 different classes.

But, as Is the case with a lot of sports in 2024, funding is hard to come by and money becomes a barrier to competing at a high level – particularly when travelling abroad.

However, financial obstacles have never stopped Becci and her students have stunned in numerous events – the most recent of which took place this weekend with a number of the junior teams.

Rosie believes the squads are in good hands under the guidance of the club’s coaches and hopes the ongoing success will spark an interest for more youngsters to join.

She added: “The amount of effort Becci puts into the club is inspiring; she puts her heart and soul into all her classes, so much so that she offers one to one training and extra provision for the students who need the extra help.

“Some of the students are really young but despite their inexperience, they have a real passion for the sport and enjoy it to the maximum – thanks in no small part to the club’s coaches.

“Natasha Gardiner has also played a massive part in bringing the club to the fore and I know Becci thinks very highly of her and appreciates her unwavering dedication to nurturing the future stars.

“Hopefully, if things continue as they are, The Cheer Lab will continue to grow and offer even more classes and initiatives for the local community to benefit from.”

You can follow the club’s progression via and

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