athenafit barre studio

Life After Pom Squad. Staff Spotlight: McKayla Denning.

athenaLIFEMcKayla Denning1 Comment
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Even before I entered the world, I was bound to be a dancer. My mother worked at a local dance studio in Kingwood Texas, and my sister started dancing at the young age of three. So it was only appropriate that the first pair of shoes I wore were a pair of white satin ballet shoes. Through years of dancing, I found my passion in the jazz/contemporary style of dance. Feeling your body move fluidly to the sweet melody of a song was an escape that resulted in an absolute personal bliss. 

As I grew older and competed more and more, my body quickly began to wear down. However, the feeling of winning national championships trumped the hurting joints, injured pelvis, and creaky knees every time. Despite my aching body, I decided to continue my dancing career at the collegiate level by trying out and making the pom squad at Mississippi State University.  It was one of the most amazing experiences. Getting to lead crowds of 50,000+ in school chants, cheering alongside the 2014 MSU football team in securing our school’s highest NCAA football ranking, and of course storming the field after beating Ole Miss in overtime my freshman year, are just a few of my fondest pom squad memories.

After my second year of cheering on the dawgs my body waved the white flag. I was diagnosed with extreme tendonitis in my IT band, a torn meniscus, and a cracked knee cap, and the doctors told me it was time to quit dance or have a knee replacement by the age of 25. I was absolutely devastated upon receiving the news.  Saying goodbye to the pom squad was tough enough, but I was also worried about how to stay in shape. I tried many different workout regimes but it seemed that the pain just kept escalating. 

I was about ready to give up and one of my close friends introduced me to athenafit barre studio. I skeptically took a class and immediately fell in love with the exercise and technique. The class pushed my body and provided exercises to tone the muscles I had been using my whole life. However, it wasn’t too much. I was able to maintain my dancer figure and practice stretches that were identical to ones I used in physical therapy. Because of encouragement from the amazing instructors at athenafit, I have been able to take and teach classes for a year with minimal pain and maximum happiness.  Now, I have a new group of teammates to cheer for and encourage with our amazing clients and other barre instructors.