BOISE - A video out of Denver is sparking a lot of controversy and outrage. It shows teenagers crying out in pain at a cheerleading camp as they're forced into splits over and over again, their arms and legs held down by teammates.
"Honestly, I couldn't even watch the whole entire video because it upset me so much," said Erika Lewis, who is a former cheer coach.
Lewis lives in Meridian and served as a cheer coach for about seven years.
"For us, that's not the norm. That's not how it should have been at all," said Lewis.
She says girls should always be conditioned to build up to doing the splits.
"You don't just do it full force, and there you go," Lewis explained. "That's not how it works."
Jim Tighe is the owner of Gem State Gymnastics Academy in Boise. He watched the video as well and says it was really surprising.
"That's pretty old school," said Tighe. "You don't see many coaches doing that kind of stretches, hands on, pushing really hard, pushing through pain. It's not done very often."
Tighe says his students stretch themselves. He says gymnasts need to know their limits.
"If you're pushing somebody they don't have control," he said. "They need to have that control of their body to feel where they are and how far they can stretch."
Lewis says the experience for the girls in the video probably soured the excitement of the sport, which is upsetting. She says gymnastics is challenging, but also fun.
"That's what broke my heart the most."
Several people involved in the incident have been put on leave during a police investigation. The head coach says he was using a technique he grew up with.
KTVB has heard from some parents saying some gyms still use the forceful technique. Tighe says make sure your kids know they should push their limits, but to always stop when they are in pain.
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