We all know how hard J.J. Watt trains and have seen him do that record-breaking 5’1” box jump, but what about the other athletes on the field at NRG Stadium? No, I’m not talking about the players, but the Houston Texans Cheerleaders. These girls are also real athletes.
Not only do they have to train hard to look amazing in their uniforms and be able to cheer for an entire football game, but they also either hold down full-time jobs or are students. It’s not easy. Yet, more than 900 women showed up to try out this past weekend with hopes of making the 2016 team and this week the 50 finalists will go through another series of tough choreography and interviews. Tryouts are serious business and most of the women start prepping for them months and sometimes years ahead of time.
I met with veteran Houston Texans cheerleader and professional boxer Antonieta last week at her boxing gym downtown to find out what she does to prep for tryouts (even the vets have to start at Round 1). It’s not the typical gym and she’s not the typical girl at the gym. She trains hard and isn’t afraid of working out like the guys, who are proud to be her teammates in the boxing world.
She practices the styles of Muay Thai and Krav Maga and has competed in 14 amateur matches. So, trust me when I say you do not want to get between this cheerleader and her punching bag! When I ask her how boxing has helped her as a cheerleader she tears up. “It’s about not giving up in life” she says. Being a boxer has helped her train and fight for many things in life, including her position on the squad — which didn’t come easy. “I didn’t grow up dancing or cheering like most of the girls” she says. She is a boxer and started training when she was 12.
Antonieta has been working extra hard the last few months in preparation for the 2016 tryouts in order to keep her spot on the team. She has been sticking to tough workouts and eating a clean diet (see below for her tips). Boxing is her go-to workout but she also likes to mix things up with track workouts, weight training and other sports.
Her hard work has paid off before, earning her a spot on the squad in 2014 and 2015. And she is a finalist for 2016. The final squad will be announced on Monday. Between now and then you can vote for Antonieta and your other favorites on the Texans website.
Antonieta’s fitness tips
* Eat breakfast. She likes to make her own cereal that consists of a mix of granola and unsweetened almond milk.
* New to working out? Start with your body weight first by doing things like squats.
* Try a track workout. She runs bleachers and likes to do sprint drills to mix things up.
* Stretching is important, after your warm-up and at the end of your workout.
* A small workout is better than nothing. Even when she only has 20-30 minutes she still hits the gym.
* You need to eat for energy so don’t be too restrictive on calories.
* Plan meals and take them with you. She carries her meals with her wherever she goes so she isn’t tempted to eat junk food or fast food.
* She loves eggs. Eggs are a great protein source and can be a quick snack on the go.
* Pushups are great for toning the upper body.
*If you are short on time - jump rope! It’s a great cardio workout and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Antonieta’s workout playlist
"Are You With Me" by Lost Frequencies (Radio Edit)
"Brave" by Jennifer Lopez
"Dance Again" by Jennifer Lopez, featuring Pitbull
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor
"Fight Song" by Rachel Platten
"Fighter" by Christina Aguilera
"La Temperatura" by Maluma. featuring Eli Palacios
"Lean On" Major Lazer & DJ Snake, featuring Mo
"Me, Myself & I" by G-eazy & Bebe Rexha
"Roar" by Katy Perry
"Thunderstruck" by AC/DC
"Wanna Be a Baller" by Lil' Troy
"Work" by Rhianna featuring Drake
"Worth It" by Fifth Harmony featuring Kid Ink