Before I went to my first POUND class, I read up on the workout’s history. It was created by Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom, two drumming and fitness enthusiasts who decided to combine their passions into a new form of exercise. They created routines with beat-heavy playlists and gave students neon-green plastic drumsticks for drumming along to the beat. (They’re officially called Ripstix because they’re drumsticks that, you know, get you ripped.)The Ripstix only weigh about a quarter of a pound each, but POUND is more about endless reps than heavy weights. It also tones the lower body more intensely than the arms, what with all the squats. Overall, it’s a quirky but exhaustingly effective workout, a fact I learned when I tried it out at my gym. Afterward, I talked with Dre Nichols-Everett (right, above) and Jemila Bello (left), POUND trainers at D3: Dre’s Diesel Dome. Below are our compiled tips for POUND newbies.Don’t be scared—it’s just a bunch of simple moves. During my first POUND class, I felt like there were tons of different techniques. Sometimes, I had to squat and clack my Ripstix over my head. Other times, I had to squat and drum on the ground. Occasionally, I didn’t have to squat at all. It might sound like anarchy, but it’s actually a combination of a finite number of moves. POUND choreography consists of lunges, squats, and yoga-style bridges paired with drumstick work, all of which syncs up with the song. There’s usually a short, repetitive routine for the verse, another for the chorus, and often a third for the bridge. (See the moves in action in this video.) The takeaway here is that you can master POUND with practice, and perfection isn’t key.
“We tell people to keep moving, even if you don’t get all the moves right,” Jemila said.Pay attention to your squat form.I told Dre and Jemila that I had some trouble moving my arms and my legs at the same time. For beginners in the same boat as me, Dre said, “the positioning is the most important. … If you don’t have the foundation, what’s the point of doing the [arm] movements? Get your squat down first."Getting your squat down means getting your knees at close-to-right angles and keeping your back straight and chest lifted, even when you drum on the ground. “A lot of people like to bend over,” Jemila noted, but that can hurt your back. Luckily …You don’t have to get super-low at your first class.“For some people, it’s really hard [to drum on the ground while squatting],” Dre said. “But the good thing is, we modify. So sometimes, instead of hitting the ground with the Ripstix, you just hit the air if you can’t get low enough.”You might feel like a celebrity drummer.“You feel like you’re a drummer in a band!” Dre said. “It takes you away from that workout and puts you on the stage, pretending that you’re a rock star.”But you won’t actually get better at drumming.When I asked Dre and Jemila if POUND could enhance my drumming skills, they said “no,” firmly and in unison.Look to the music for motivation.The founders curate the POUND playlists, and their taste does not disappoint. My favorite track was “Talk Dirty” by Jason DeRulo. It’s such a workout jam, it could probably propel me up Mount Everest.I asked Jemila and Dre for their favorite POUND songs, too. Jemila’s is Jay Z’s “99 Problems,” and Dre likes Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven.”Don’t wear running shorts.Wear spandex shorts or long pants with plenty of give and coverage for the lunges. Trust me.Warning: You might be sore the next day.Dre and Jemila’s students usually report soreness in their glutes and quads. I was sore there and everywhere else—but I also felt like the class legitimately lifted my butt. So, pros and cons.Photo by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon