It’s officially NFL postseason, and I’m happy to report that the Steelers are AFC North champions for the first time since 2010. Today, I’m welcoming Ben-Gals Cheerleader Lauren Coben to the blog for Q&A. Lauren and I grew up dancing at the same studio. She has continued her dance career, which she manages to balance with a traditional career, and has accomplished quite a bit in the last year. Keep reading to find out how this cheerleading captain trains hard, eats healthy, and stays centered.
What is your dance background, from Borelli’s to Ben-Gals?
I started dancing when I was 3 years old at Borelli’s Dance Gallery in Pittburgh, PA, and continued through high school. I trained in almost every genre of dance, but my specialty was tap dancing! I was also a part of my high school cheerleading squad for 4 years, and then continued dancing on my sorority dance team in college. I was captain and choreographer for that team during my Junior and Senior years. Once I graduated and moved to Cincinnati, I tried out for the Ben-Gals and was lucky enough to make it my first time!
What has been your most memorable moment (or two) as a Ben-Gal?
I’ve had some incredible moments as a Ben-Gal…especially this year. I was chosen as a Side Captain, was the cover for the 2014-2015 Ben-Gal Calendar, and was elected by my teammates as the 2015 Pro Bowl Cheerleader! Still, the greatest memories involve all of the amazing friendships I’ve made, and of course dancing under the lights of Paul Brown Stadium!
This year, you’re a captain. What does being a Ben-Gals captain entail?
Being a captain is about setting a good example and being the go-to person for your teammates! We do have additional responsibilities–for example, there are 4 captains because we have 4 sideline groups on game days. We call all of the dances and cheers that day and lead our side on the field. We also do all of the choreography for our team and help run all of the events outside of practice. The most important thing is being someone that my teammates feel they can rely on and look up to.
How do you train to prepare for cheering at games?
I train 5-6 days on my own at my local gym. Typically, I do a combination of cardio and strength training (about a 10 minute cardio warm up, strength training with quick, high intensity cardio sessions throughout, and another longer cardio session at the end). Of course, our practices serve as a great workout session, as well! It takes a lot of endurance to make it through a game, so it’s important to be in good physical condition!
What are a few of your favorite healthy snacks? What’s your biggest indulgence?
Some of my favorite healthy snacks include almonds and Skinny Pop. I also love plain oatmeal (weird, I know). My biggest indulgence is anything chocolate! I have a huge sweet tooth.
What are some of your favorite athletic or dance brands to wear while training?
I love Lululemon! I don’t think I’ve found another brand that has been more durable or more comfortable for working out. However, I also wear workout clothes from Nike and Victoria’s Secret. The Lineup has great dance attire, so I usually order from them around tryout time!
How do you maintain balance between your personal life, career, and cheerleading?
Sometimes it can be really difficult, because they each take up a good chunk of time! I have a typical 40-hour work week, practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays (and Wednesdays in July), games on Sundays, and many appearances outside of these hours. To be honest, I take things one week at a time. I constantly remind myself to focus on what I’m doing at that current time, and put everything else out of my mind until I’m done. It can definitely be difficult, but when I’m not busy, I get bored!
What are a few tips for someone planning to audition to become an NFL cheerleader?
I suggest going to any prep classes the team is offering. It’s always helpful to learn their style and get feedback before tryouts! Most importantly, always smile, have confidence, and never give up!