The music of alt-J blasted through the speakers as instructor Toni Wolff bounded into the room. Waving a set of drumsticks in the air she asked the eager participants, “Are you ready to rock?!” The crowd answered with a resounding, “Yes!” pumping their fists to the beat. Wolff danced around the room, handing out sticks to the group. Though this might seem like a scene out of a drumming master class, it’s actually a workout.
Drumsticks are not usually associated with fitness, but POUND founders Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom set out to change that. Both are former drummers who wanted to merge their love of rhythm with their passion for fitness. Their goal was to create a workout that builds strength, tones muscles and provides a place to rock out.
POUND combines cardio, dance, strength training and drummer-based movements. Participants use the duo’s signature Ripstix—light weight, specially-designed exercise drum- sticks—to simulate drumming while performing a series of isometric and plyometric moves including squats, lunges, forward bends and stretches. Every inch of the body gets addressed, including those infrequently used, hard-to-reach muscles like the obliques and triceps. Focused on stabilization, the workout combines hard-to-hold poses with quick arm movements. This forces the body to balance, accessing every muscle available.
“Pound is unlike any other class I teach,” said Wolff, who is a POUND pro instructor at both Makoto Jiu-Jitsu Center in Deer Park and Crunch in West Babylon. “The music helps keep you motivated and the Ripstix give you a chance to rock out and workout at the same time.” The choreography combined with the rhythm of the music forces participants to perfect their timing. Hearing the percussive sounds of each move gives the class instant feedback to help improve form. If you’re behind the beat, you step up your game. “It’s addictive, [the sticks] let you see and hear your efforts as they strike the mat. Some of the moves can seem a little intimidating at first, but most people catch on pretty quickly.”
A typical POUND class with Wolff includes regulars as well as newbies.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said first-timer Janeen Wasoski, who tried POUND at the recommendation of a friend. “It was challenging, but a lot of fun…the music keeps you going and the Ripstix distract you from the pain.” The class moves at a quick pace, but Wolff demonstrates modifications for beginners. By the end of the workout, even novices are pounding in sync with the beat.
The music includes a variety of different genres from rock and rap to dubstep and pop. Carefully crafted to include a mix of high-intensity peaks and longer fat-burning sequences, the soundtrack keeps students focused and is a key factor to the appeal, explained Janine Bassetta, a certified personal trainer from South Huntington. “When classes are choreographed to music that everyone loves, students forget they are exercising. When you have a program like POUND that can disguise the hard work your body will endure, you will have students leaving your class on a high and wanting to come back for more,” she explained.
POUND novice Danielle Catanese agreed the upbeat atmosphere has her hooked. “The Ripstix make the whole class feel unified—it’s fun to try to keep to the beat together,” she explained. Catanese added that after taking a class “you don’t feel so exhausted that it’s hard to get through the rest of the day. But you definitely feel it in your muscles the next day. That’s always the sign of a good workout.”