How POMSQUAD Fitness Made Cheer an Inclusive Fitness Space

We’re using our 7th season of our podcast to celebrate fitness – its creators, innovators and everything in between. We made sure to include goodies from the studios and brand we’re chatting with for you, so make sure to listen, share with a friend and try something new.

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Cheerleading wasn’t really a part of my life growing up – I mean it was and it wasn’t. In Minnesota, I don’t remember there being an insane cheer competition culture with all of the things that come with that.

And maybe I don’t remember because I’ve blocked it out. I’ve never uttered this aloud, but I actually really wanted to be a cheerleader. Where I grew up in Anoka, Minnesota, there was a specific set of cheerleaders who I considered to be elite. The Hockey Cheerleaders. They’d sit in the student section, leading the crowd in PTA-approved cheers. But they really shined between the second and third period, when they’d lace up their figure skates and do a little ice performance.

And on home-game days, they wore their uniforms to school. That maroon and white uniform – swoon. I wanted it so badly, but I was terrified of the tryout process. So I never put myself out there. I know now that the experience I just described is uniquely Minnesotan, but the experience of not trying something because you’re worried you’ll be left out is not.

So when Matthew Hollis, cofounder of POMSQUAD Fitness explained that he received a grant to study cheerleading for a year, he came at it from a dance and performance background. And as he tells it, he spent his adolescence as a gay teenager wishing he didn’t have to play a sport with a ball and that he could hang out with the cheerleaders instead. I didn’t try out for cheer because I didn’t want to be rejected and Matthew didn’t try because he didn’t feel like he could without being rejected.

So in adulthood, Matthew studied cheer and his knowledge and appreciation for the sport only grew. That earned him a spot in a dance showcase where he shared his newfound craft. That’s when what would become POMSQUAD Fitness caught his cofounder Jena Ertel’s eye. She offered to run all of the non-choreography pieces of the business. 

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to experience this duo together, they are electric. They teach with a thread of comedy and a sense of authenticity that makes it clear that they’re EXACTLY 100 percent themselves. 

POMSQUAD Fitness, as they’ve created it, is a world that gives you, a functioning adult the opportunity to take all of the fun parts of cheer – like dancing, having fun, and yelling – and reject any of the pieces that may have left you out in the past, like a tryout, what other people will think, and uniforms in limited sizes. And their teaching style gives you the permission to be exactly 100 percent yourself too. 

On this week’s episode, you’ll hear from Matthew and Jena about how they’re perfecting the model of scaling themselves to train cheer captains across the world. You’ll hear the genesis of their captain names – and that piece might surprise you.

I can’t wait for you to hear where they plan to take the brand next.

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About Jeana Anderson Cohen

Jeana Anderson Cohen is the founder and CEO of asweatlife.com a premiere wellness media destination that creates content and community to help womxn live better lives and achieve their goals. Before founding health-focused companies Jeana earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison - and fresh out of college she worked on the '08 Obama campaign in Michigan. From there, she created and executed social media strategies for brands. aSweatLife fuses her experience in building community and her passion for wellness. You can find Jeana leading the team at aSweatLife, trying to join a book club, and walking her dog Maverick.

1 thought on “How POMSQUAD Fitness Made Cheer an Inclusive Fitness Space

  1. As a PomSquad Captain since 2014 starting as a student in 2011 I have loved PomSquad since day one. I’ve taken dance and workout classes since I was 3. PomSquad is the most welcoming and inclusive not just by the instructors and squadmates but technically through the format and choreography. I teach teens and young adults with Down Syndrome and I have taught adults with developmental disabilities. The technical inclusivity is the genius choreography which allows it to be adapted for any skill level and any fitness level. Matthew and Jena are super smart, super talented, super creative and lovely warm people and from my first class I knew this is a format I will enjoy and participate for the long haul. Thank you for featuring Jena & Matthew and PomSquad on your podcast. Captain Bombshell – Jolene Wise she/her/hers

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