Reunited and it "Cheers" so Good!
Alumni Cheerleaders is excited to catch up again with member, Juetta West for this week’s feature story! Juetta is a former Cincinnati Bengals Cheerleader!
Were cheerleading and dancing a part of your life when you were younger and how did you get involved? My mother started me out in dancing and baton twirling at the age of 2. I guess you could say, she saw in me somethone that needed to be into "performing". I've never been one to be shy. Dancing was part of the baton twirling. She must have recognized that. However, cheerleading was never a part of my life until the Ben-Gals. I decided at the last minute to try-out. Figured why not? I really didn't think I would make it through all the tryouts, but I guess somehow it was my calling.
Also, we understand you were a professional model. Please tell us about that experience and if that helped you transition into cheerleading. I began my modeling carer at the ripe old age of six. I was a very clumsy child and pigeon toed to boot. My parents signed me up for runway modeling at a local agency. It came naturally and I fell in love with it. I continued off and on with modeling for about 10 years. Once I landed in Cincinnati, I developed some talent recognized by industry professionals and decided to step out of my comfort zone and go for it "full steam ahead". One thing led to another and finally my career was on it's way. I've modeled for designers such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Bob Mackie, St. John, Adrienne Vittadini and Mary McFadden. I even got to travel with Oscar de la Renta as he introduced his eponymous perfume "Oscar de la Renta" I had to pinch myself. During this time while driving home from work one evening, I heard about try-out's being held for the Cincinnati Ben-Gals. I thought to myself once again, "why not"?. I didn't tell a soul about it. I just said to myself "go for it". I showed up with the rest of the 400 girls and started learning routines and at the same time, making it through all the cuts. On the final tryout I told my parents what I was doing! They were shocked! They came to the open final tryouts to "cheer" me on. When the announcement came out that I made it, they screamed and shouted as they held my young son. I was totally dumbfounded.
You are a former professional cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals. Please tell us about the team (s) and what year(s) you cheered. I cheered 1981-83. It was unbelievable, and I have memories that will last a life time. I have several gals that I keep in contact with and when I travel back to Ohio, we get together for a laugh or two. Even though we may only see each other once a year, it's like we see each other everyday. We don't skip a beat.
Congratulations are in order for you with your new business Turn it On Fitness!! We understand you just launched your site www.turnitonfitness.com, and there are some great looking and fashionable women’s workout apparel. Please tell us more about your newest venture. After a lifetime devoted to fitness and fashion I decided to approach and collaborate with Althea Harper, a Project Runway All Star fashion designer, to show women of all ages a new style of fitness wear that transitions to "every wear". I couldn't believe that women's fitness wear screams, "I belong in the gym". So we created a new category of fitness wear called the "Crossover Concept". The Crossover Concept is high quality fitness wear with designs from the fashion runway that goes every wear; whether it's the studio, the bistro or a after 5 party. It works as well with sneakers as it does with high heels. Add your jewelry and accessories to our styles, and no one will ever know you're wearing fitness wear. Our styles have a duality of function which creates value and convenience for today's women. Since I live in Maui and Althea is in NYC--we created a saying: "Where Maui Fitness meets New York City Fashion!"
What is one or several of your most memorable moments as a cheerleader? My first is Super Bowl. Our squad the first Ben-Gal squad ever to go. We were all so excited, we couldn't believe it! Diana Ross was the half time entertainment-WOW- Second most memorable moment was the play off game leading to the Super Bowl. It was the San Diego Chargers against the Bengals. It has been said and recorded as the coldest game ever played in football history. If I'm not mistaken it was 40 degrees below 0 including the wind chill factor. Matter of fact, three guys in the stands died that game from drinking and hypothermia which just don't mix. It was so cold that to this day I have asthma that developed immediately after that game......bummer.
What advice would you give to a current or future cheerleader? Have fun and enjoy the rewards of all your hard work in making it all the way to the squad. I cheered with a great squad. We all became like sisters and have continued our sisterhood over the years. But also remember to keep your morals, character and integrity intact. It's a very "out there" experience and with those experiences can come enticing propositions that can have negative consequences. Don't give in to what you know is wrong.
Tell us what you are doing now and “After the Poms”. How do you balance your work with family, having a social life and finding me time? That's a hard question to answer. Everyday is a new day bringing different priorities. One day may be family, the next social life and so on. I think being organized and having time management is the key. There are only 24 hours in a day to get what needs to be done---done! So make a list, check it twice and be prepared for the unexpected. Then prioritize. As for me time? The gym is my me time. Usually I'm in the gym early in the morning. I hit the treadmill first for 45 minutes to an hour. During that time, I say my prayers, cleanse my mind and purge nonsense out. I then move onto whatever my routine is for the particular gym day. When I leave, I'm a totally different person than when I walked in. I'm ready for the day and I greet it with a smile!
Travel destination: My husband and I love to travel and have been fortunate to see some exciting places. But I will have to say Italy for me is the best. Not only is the wine and food fantastic, but the people are so embracing.
Book: I only read autobiographies. So whatever one I'm reading at the moment is my favorite. You learn so much from this type of read. Trials, tribulations, success, defeat, love and hatred. All these conflicts teach so much and hopefully I'll learn from them. Basically in any aspect of my life I take what the books have taught me and try to implement the good. True success is how you handle setbacks, so learn from them and you'll never have a let down.
Movie: White Christmas-Growing up, our family would gather every Christmas to watch this special movie. To this day it still makes me cry. Popcorn, coke, homemade peanut butter fudge and family is what made this so special. What more can a kid ask for?
Quote: I love Inspirational sayings, Bible verses and quotes of true gut feelings. I tend to be a positive person and try to live each day to the fullest. There is one that makes me laugh and to me is so true. "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough"--Mae West. To add to this, I give thanks everyday for the many blessings that's been thrown my way.
My business has a saying that drives home our goal: Turn It On and Look Fab! Check out our lookbook, social media and website. I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished with a lot of hard work and imagination.
Thank you so much Juetta for your time and interview with Alumni Cheerleaders! Cheers to Turn it On Fitness and continued success!!