Excercisers beating a path to Pound Drum-inspired workout, complete with lime-green sticks, has been a hit for gyms By Katy Glover • World-Herald staff writer

Anali Covarrubias, center, and other participants move to the music during a Pound class at the Kroc Center in South Omaha. Pound incorporates lightly weighted drumsticks to boost cardio and light resistance training. Classes at centers across Omaha have filled up since being rolled out in January.

There are some 50 drumsticks inside the small studio but not a single drummer. The people holding them are there to exercise.

Pound, a fitness class that debuted in Omaha earlier this year, is a full-body strength and cardio workout that simulates drumming with Ripstix, the workout’s signature lime green, lightly weighted drumsticks. Exercisers “pound” the drumsticks in the air, against each other and on the ground while performing strength exercises like squats and lunges.

The class’s tag line: “Rock out. Work out.”

“It’s addictive. You don’t even feel like you’re working out,” said Sandy Andersen, the health and fitness manager at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in South Omaha.

The Kroc Center, Prairie Life Fitness at Midtown Crossing and FitnessFast in Bellevue all introduced the group exercise class in January. Instructors from the Omaha gyms say the classes have all filled up.

“We have a limit of 25 people per class, and we have to turn some people away,” Andersen said.

During a Thursday evening Pound class at the Kroc Center, people trickled into the upstairs studio until the room was full. They faced the mirrored wall and lined up in rows, each behind a gray mat — it serves as a mock

drumset. The mats also offer cushion during songs that call for participants to be seated.

Instructor Rafael Sibrian demonstrated proper “drumming” form as the group waited for the class to start. Keep your wrists straight while holding the drumsticks, your knees soft and your shoulders relaxed, he advised.

The music filled the room, and the group started to squat — down, up, down, up, down, up — tapping the drumsticks on the mat in front of them each time they moved toward the floor. As they hoisted themselves up, their heart rate climbed.

The group clapped their drumsticks overhead; lunged back and forth and side to side; sat on the mat, lifted their legs off the ground and rotated their torsos, tapping the floor on either side of them.

Halfway through the class, as a new song blared, the group started to pound their sticks together to the beat without instruction. The enthusiasm is catching.

Tracie Wesson, co-owner of FitnessFast in Bellevue, said she introduced the class to give gym members more options. They crave variety in their workouts, she said, and they can find it in Pound. She expects more gyms in the area to add it.

Kristin Lumm, the group fitness director and an instructor at Prairie Life, said each Pound class at the gym has been “really, really popular.” It routinely draws more than 20 people. When 30 people piled into the fitness studio for one weekday class, she was short three sets of drumsticks, and the latecomers opted to do the workout without them rather than leave.

Lumm, who has been teaching group exercise classes for 15 years, said Pound isn’t like any workout she’s ever seen, which is why she thinks people are so interested in it.

“If you can clap your hands, you can do this class,” she said. “You don’t have to be musically inclined.”

Lumm said the workout focuses on the lower body and also incorporates Pilates floor exercises to build core strength. The moves can be modified to accommodate different fitness levels.

Observers might think it looks easy until they try it themselves, Lumm said. She called the workout “well-rounded” but wouldn’t classify it as high-intensity exercise.

“I’m breathing hard, but not after every track,” she said.

The Pound founders, both female drummers, say people can burn between 400 and 900 calories during an hourlong class, though most classes are 45 minutes.

Jessica Rivera, 20, tried the class for the first time shortly after it launched at the Kroc Center in January.

“You feel it right away. You feel the burn,” she said.

She added that the Ripstix and upbeat music served as a welcome distraction from the challenging choreography.

“I’ll be back,” she said. “It’s a great workout.”

Katy is the editor of livewellnebraska.com, The World-Herald's health and fitness website.

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