01:00 AM EDT on Monday, September 6, 2010
By Elspeth Lodge
Journal Staff Writer
Behind the tight abs and toned arms of the New England Patriots cheerleaders are months of circuit training, running ramps, kicks, and workouts including the famed grueling and effective P90X Fitness Program, according to the squad’s director/choreographer, Warwick’s Tracy Sormanti.
“The Patriots cheerleaders work extremely hard to stay fit,” says Sormanti. “Six sets of eight kicks, running the ramps at the stadium, and their own personal workouts are key components to their fitness programs.
“Our circuit training drills, using a combo of the players’ equipment, such as heavy bags, medicine balls and steps, integrated with the cheerleaders’ equipment, such as balance boards, hand weights and jump ropes, ties it all together,” she adds.
“Couple that with a ‘no junk food policy’ in the locker room, which carries over into their personal lives, and it lends to overall healthiness,” Sormanti says. “That gives these women a feeling a confidence and empowerment — you look good, feel good, you perform even better.”
Sormanti did not always aspire to lead, let alone be a Patriots’ NFL cheerleader, but “I always loved to dance,” she says, and was a cheerleader in high school. “I was on my way to the beach and I heard about ‘Patriots Cheerleader Tryouts’ on the radio.”
The spur-of-the-moment adventure changed Sormanti’s life; she cheered on the Pats for five seasons, before moving up the ranks to director and choreographer, which, she finds just as, and possibly even more, gratifying than being on the team.
A native of Warwick, Sormanti was always a Patriots fan, but when she got to the tryouts she felt intimidated by all the “gorgeous cheerleading talent.” She almost stepped out of line –– but, she stayed put–– because, “my mother taught me never to be a quitter,” she said.
Sormanti got to design the 2010 cheerleading uniform for her squad; not only have the Patriots returned to their “patriotic colors” (from just white) but are more glamorous than ever before. Each red, white and blue uniform is bedazzled with 650 crystals so that the women are sure to stand out on the sidelines.
The cheerleaders showed off the new uniform for the first time at the opening of the “Cheers through the Years Exhibit” at the Hall at Patriot Place in July. The exhibit –– a compilation of photographs, videos, artifacts and a map of the evolution of the cheerleaders –– was a testament to the hard work and dedication it takes to be on the squad.
More recently, just fitting into smaller and more revealing uniforms has been an added reason for working out.
“These [uniforms] are really trendy,” says Lisa Matta-Paze, a member of the late 1970s, early ‘80s squads. “Back in the olden days, they were very simple,” she says, “but you have to be very thin to wear these. You can’t have anything extra.” .