Peering into Gold’s Gym’s Capitol Hill group fitness studio during a Pound class, you might think you’re looking at a music video shoot. Each participant is dancing and clenching a neon green drumstick in each hand while banging on the floor in unison to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” to Jessie J’s “Burnin’ Up.” Instructors and Gold’s group exercise managers Nathalia Ribeiro and Jeanna Graves have to yell into their headsets to be heard over the rumbling of drumsticks pounding on yoga mats.

While Pound has been available at other gyms in the District since 2012, the D.C.-area is Gold’s Gym’s guinea pig — the chain began testing the class here in January to decide if it’s worth rolling out nationwide. (At the Capitol Hill location, Pound isn’t yet offered regularly; we attended a demo.)

What it is

Pound is a full-body cardio workout using Ripstix — ¼-pound plastic drumsticks twice the weight of the standard model — that students wield nonstop for the entire class.

Created in 2011 by California-based drummers Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom, Pound mixes Pilates, isometrics (strength training moves like squats and deadlifts) and plyometrics (short bursts of movement) into a 45-minute routine.


Routines are heavily influenced by the music. As songs speed up and slow down, so do your movements, which torches more calories. Each song zeroes in on a single muscle group. A song chosen to focus on legs involves jump-squatting while swinging your drumsticks above your head. An ab-focused song involves sitting on a yoga mat and twisting your arms from side to side with your legs off the ground, using both drumsticks as light weights. Whatever you’re doing, you can bet you’re going to be doing it double the speed — but still to the beat — by the end of the song.

A large part of the class is spent in a squat, which isn’t as torturous as it sounds.

“You’re distracted by the drumming and trying to keep the beat, so you don’t notice the actual workout,” says Linda Haupt, Gold’s group regional exercise manager.

Jessica Walker, 29, a kindergarten teacher from Falls Church, has been doing Pound for eight months and says she’s seen both her stamina and confidence improve. Her favorite aspect of the class is the music, which Ribeiro describes as Top 40 hits and other high-energy jams you might dance to in your car.

“The music selection is very up-tempo and keeps you guessing,” Walker says.

For Megan Virga, 43, of Silver Spring, Pound was a change from her usual routine of circuit and weight training.

“This is definitely better than a boring run on a treadmill,” she says. While she enjoyed the creative element, she found it challenging “to coordinate the choreography at the top speeds without sacrificing the important moves.”


Haupt says Pound draws mostly women, though “we’re trying to get men on board.”

Students of all fitness levels are welcome. “It’s very simple to modify everything to make it accessible to everyone,” Haupt says. If you want it to be harder, squat deeper. Or if you want to take a break, skip the jump.

And, the underlying theory of Pound is universally appealing, Haupt says: “You’re banging on something, who doesn’t like to do that?”


Pound is available at 11 Gold’s Gym locations in Maryland and Virginia, including Courthouse, Ballston and two Rockville branches. D.C.’s 19th and L Gold’s will see Pound by 2016. Non-members can try for free by registering for a seven-day pass at Pound is also available through ClassPass for $99 a month, or at VIDA Fitness, Crunch and Balance Gym.