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Pound workout combines exercise and drumming

Shirley McMarlin
| Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
POUND instructor Nicole Beckett leads a group of students and staff members in a high-intensity workout Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus. POUND, an alternative fitness workout done with a group, is based on drumming where participants move, yell and drum on a mat with drumsticks. 'They're called 'ripsticks'', said Beckett. 'Because we get ripped.'
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
POUND instructor Nicole Beckett leads a group of students and staff members in a high-intensity workout Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus. POUND, an alternative fitness workout done with a group, is based on drumming where participants move, yell and drum on a mat with drumsticks. 'They're called 'ripsticks'', said Beckett. 'Because we get ripped.'
POUND instructor Nicole Beckett leads a group of students and staff members in a high-intensity workout Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus. POUND, an alternative fitness workout done with a group, is based on drumming where participants move, yell and drum on a mat.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
POUND instructor Nicole Beckett leads a group of students and staff members in a high-intensity workout Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus. POUND, an alternative fitness workout done with a group, is based on drumming where participants move, yell and drum on a mat.
POUND instructor Nicole Beckett leads a group of students and staff members in a high-intensity workout Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus. POUND, an alternative fitness workout done with a group, is based on drumming.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
POUND instructor Nicole Beckett leads a group of students and staff members in a high-intensity workout Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus. POUND, an alternative fitness workout done with a group, is based on drumming.
Saint Vincent College freshman Riley Assalone works out with fellow students and staff members during POUND instructor Nicole Beckett's class Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Saint Vincent College freshman Riley Assalone works out with fellow students and staff members during POUND instructor Nicole Beckett's class Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 at Alcuin Hall on Saint Vincent College campus. .

It's a fast-paced, high-intensity, full-body workout incorporating everything from lunges, squats and jumps to bending, stretching and drumming.

It's also very loud.

That must be why they call it Pound.

Admissions counselor Nicole Beckett leads a Pound class at 5 p.m. Tuesdays in Alcuin Hall at Saint Vincent College in Unity.

The music pulses as Beckett shouts out instructions for a series of short routines, punctuated with random whoops of enthusiasm and encouragement.

The students beat their mats with their sticks.

It's almost deafening but it's also invigorating.

So if Zumba or Pilates aren't intense enough for you, maybe it's time to try Pound.

"A lot of people are put off at first by the choreography, but you just follow along the best you can," Beckett says. "It gets easier the more you practice. You build muscle memory.

"You can make it as easy or hard as you like," Beckett says. "I teach the hardest moves and then I show the modifications."

"I like that it's high-energy and you can adapt it to your own level," says class member Christina Andrae, associate director of admission and financial aid at Saint Vincent. "The rhythm and music add variety to my usual running, walking, lunging and squats."

Burn it up

Pound was developed in 2011 by Kirsten Potenza, a 24-year-old former member of the UCLA rowing team, and Cristina Peerenboom, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer.

Potenza was "looking for an exercise routine that excited her ... something that connected people directly with the beat, using music as an escape to empower and motivate," says Carly Ginsberg, account executive with LFB Media Group in New York City, which represents Pound.

Potenza and Peerenboom were both interested in drumming, so they incorporated drumming-type arm movements into routines melding cardio, conditioning and strength training with yoga and Pilates-inspired movements.

Instead of wooden drumsticks, though, the pair came up with 4-ounce, green plastic Ripstix for Pound practitioners to use ("You get ripped when you use them," Beckett affirms).

They also developed a set list of music to accompany the routines.

"What started as one class in L.A. in 2011 is now taught in over 50 countries, by more than 13,000 instructors, to hundreds of thousands of participants a week," Ginsburg says. "People typically burn 800 calories per hour, making 15,000 strikes, in this full-body workout."

Confidence booster

Beckett learned about Pound at her home gym, Anytime Fitness in Monroeville.

"I was bad at Zumba," Beckett says. "I loved it, but I couldn't keep up with the moves. I found a niche that I'm good at with Pound. I felt that I fit in and it helped me come out of my shell."

The allure of Pound fits with her musical background, says Beckett, who sings and plays the flute. "I really love the idea of playing the drums without drums."

After taking a class, she decided to become a certified Pound instructor, which entailed eight hours of training.

For Beckett, who is also a runner, these are the top selling points of Pound:

• It's fun

• It burns a lot of calories quickly

• It builds coordination, which builds confidence

She also says it can be adapted to all age and fitness levels, including people with significant physical limitations.

"You can even do the arm movements while sitting in a wheelchair," she says.

Rocking out

On the website, the Pound workout and its benefits are described this way:

"Instead of counting reps or keeping track of the clock, Pound strategically distracts you from the high-intensity and duration of your workout, and shifts your focus to rhythm and volume. Each 2-4 minute song is carefully calibrated with interval peaks and extended fat burning sequences, providing you with the best workout in the shortest span of time.

"After you're done rocking out in a 45-minute Pound class, you'll have completed up to 15,000 reps, performed over 30 extended interval peaks, and whizzed through more than 70 techniques without even realizing it!"

Pound classes were offered about a year ago at Fleet Feet Sports in Pittsburgh's South Hills, as a way to help runners keep active at an off time of the year, says Abbey Reighard, director of marketing and outreach.

"I think people were so excited about Pound because it's a workout that doesn't take itself too seriously … but it is still A WORKOUT," Reighard says. "This group of 20 to 25 (mostly women) were all beating their sticks in unison to music, laughing and having a lot of fun, but also getting a great workout in."

Fast and loud

The weekly session at Saint Vincent is offered free to anyone in the campus community. Beckett says anywhere from a half dozen to two dozen people show up.

The Pound music library has everything from pop and grunge to oldies and rhythm and blues, that can be tailored to the individual class, says Beckett, who keeps her set list fast and loud.

"We say we're the loudest family in fitness," she says. "I like to keep it loud and crazy and have fun. That's part of the Pound brand."

"It's so different than any other workout I've done," says Natalie Kunkel, senior accounting major from Uniontown. "It gets really challenging. Counting the beats is good for your coordination."

Denise Heydorn, an administrative assistant in the opportunity office, decided to try Pound after seeing the class listed on a campus information portal.

"It seemed like a creative way to work out, because I get bored easily," she says. "It's fun, and Nicole's enthusiasm is contagious. When we're finished, I really feel like I accomplished something."

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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