The Exercise Class That Will Make You Feel Like a Rock Star: Advice From a “Non-Gym Person”

With the cold temps and desire to snuggle up with loved ones, it’s easy to fall into a rut of sweatpants and baggy shirts. Maybe you wear workout clothes every day, but you never actually work out. If one of your goals is to start utilizing those workout clothes, I have the class for you!

I am not a “gym person.” Gyms have always intimidated me because I picture them as places full of fit, muscular people who know exactly how to work all the machines and lift all the weights. I’ve been to yoga classes and Pilates classes and used treadmills and ellipticals, but all of these felt like chores and I had to force myself to do them.

But in February of 2017 at the end of my yoga class, the instructor told us that a new class was starting called POUND. She asked if we had watched the last episode of This Is Us, in which Kate was shown doing POUND while at a weight loss retreat. Ironically, I had seen that episode, and if both things hadn’t aligned so well, I may not have ever had the courage to try a POUND class at all. But because I had an idea of what POUND was from the show, and I thought it looked like it could be fun, I decided to try it. And when I walked into that class, my thoughts about exercising changed altogether.

POUND was created in 2011 by two women who were drummers and former college athletes. It’s a fun, fast-paced, routine-based class that includes cardio, strength training, and conditioning—a true full-body workout. The moves are inspired by yoga and Pilates and include lots of squats, lunges, and leg lifts, as well as abdominal work. Participants use lightly-weighted drumsticks called Ripstix (1/4-pound each) to drum to the beat of popular and classic songs in choreographed routines. Much of the choreography is repeated throughout the catalog of songs, so after awhile it becomes familiar. Most POUNDers may feel somewhat uncoordinated in their first class or two, but that’s normal and decreases over time. And one of the best things about POUND is that it can be modified to work for a wide range of ages and abilities. POUNDers can pound on the floor, on an exercise bench, or they can raise the bench as high as they’d like using risers to decrease the intensity.

In a typical POUND class, you may see men, women, and children all pounding together to the beat of their own drum. The participants in the class I attend can range in age from 7 years old to 80-something. And once you’ve tried it, you will probably be hooked. The songs are upbeat, catchy, and mostly familiar (or you may be exposed to new types of music that you’ll want to add to your own playlist), and while you’re pounding your stress away, you won’t even notice that you’re also doing hundreds of squats, lunges, and intense cardio. A typical 45-minute class can burn 600+ calories! And if that isn’t enough, according to the POUND website, “Numerous studies have proven the powerful brain-boosting, stress-relieving effects of drumming. The rhythm of drumming permeates the entire brain to improve focus, increase higher-level thinking and decision-making skills, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, decrease chronic pain, anxiety, and fatigue.” All while having fun!

But as fun as POUND is, finding an enthusiastic, positive instructor is so important to keep you coming back. Natalie Reinertsen and Laura Reifenrath are both POUND-certified instructors at the Thousand Oaks YMCA, and their enthusiasm and encouragement keep their POUNDers returning week after week. In fact, the class has become a community of friends who encourage each other and check in when someone has been missing from class for awhile.

Natalie is currently the main POUND instructor at the Thousand Oaks YMCA. As a former drummer, she fell in love with POUND after just one class. She has now been certified to teach it for almost three years and says that her favorite part about teaching POUND is watching her students’ minds and bodies change. “As an instructor it is so important that I hit both of those aspects. I have to train them to be confident, and once they are confident they become successful. I love to run around and truly feel like I am a rock star when I am teaching! I want others in the room to feel the same way. Once I get them to open up and just have fun, that is when results start to happen.”

She also encourages people to try more than one class before deciding if POUND is for them. “You will not be a rock star your first class, and that’s OK! You have to train just like any other sport. But know it’s a safe place to build confidence and an awesome workout community! I have so many first-time POUNDers say, ‘I had no idea it was going to be that hard!’ Please don’t only try it once; give it a few tries before you make a final decision.”

Laura became certified about three years ago at the prompting of another YMCA instructor. She hadn’t even picked up a pair of Ripstix before the full-day training, but she has grown to love POUND as a chance to have fun and see energy levels rise and faces light up when good music moves the participants. She says it’s also a great stress relief and she enjoys the sense of community it creates. “I wish people knew it is something everyone CAN do. You don’t have to have ‘rhythm.’ As long as you are moving and enjoying yourself, you can pound to the beat of your own drum!” she said.

If all of this isn’t enough to convince you to try POUND, here are some comments from some of my fellow POUNDers about why POUND makes them feel like a Rockstar:

“I wasn’t in the best place personally when I walked into my first POUND class, and honestly, I didn’t expect much. But I was hooked after my first class. I couldn’t wait to come back for my next class, and my next, and my next. Before I knew it, I’d lost weight, my body was changing, but most importantly, my mental health was feeling stronger. I credit POUND and my posse for pouring life back into me.” —Michelle

“I love POUND because it’s fun and keeps me engaged, and I can modify easily and push myself when needed, or tone it down when my body calls for rest. It is the first exercise program I’ve done where I see visible results with cardio strength AND muscle tone. I look forward to POUND every week, and I hate when I have to miss.” —Nicole

“I love POUND because…
1. It’s a fun work out! The songs are amazing!
2. It’s loud! When I’m going through something, the louder the better! It’s a way to drown the negative voices within me and escape reality sometimes.
3. It’s OK to beat the heck out of your sticks to make them break! We are able to release our aggression in this class! (Just be careful that nobody gets hurt when those sticks fly!)” —Beverly

“I love POUND (and tell all my friends about it!) because I thoroughly enjoy working out to good, loud music. Keeping the beat with drumsticks gives me an extra boost of confidence and drive. Hitting those sticks hard works out stress and gives a whole-body workout. So happy I found POUND because I was honestly getting bored with group workouts before.” —Lea

“POUND helps me relieve stress and is very relaxing to me. I love the music and how I feel during the workout. You are enjoying the music and the environment, so you almost forget you are working out! All my kids love POUND class and always want to go!” —Mighty

“POUND has helped me to make friends, manage my weight, my mental health, and continues to help me keep my hips healthy. I have a history of hip dysplasia and lost use of my legs for four months after the birth of my second child. As I approach 40, being active has become a priority. POUND is a workout that I love because it is fun, exciting, and effective. My mood improves after every workout!” —Denise

To find a POUND class near you, visit

Jill is a small-town girl at heart but has loved discovering all San Antonio has to offer since moving here in 2004. She and her husband of 16 years are proud Texas Aggies and parents to two elementary-age girls. Jill worked as an editor, writer, and 4th-grade teacher before discovering her dream job as a taxi driver (for her girls). As a stay-at-home-mom, she spends her days volunteering at her kids' school and at church, attempting to exercise, pondering how four people can accumulate so much dirty laundry, and driving her kids to numerous extracurricular activities. She has recently taken her love for all things Disney to the next level by becoming a Disney Travel Planner. Follow along on her family’s adventures in San Antonio and beyond on Instagram at @satxfamily or email her for a Disney (or Universal Studios) vacation quote and planning assistance at [email protected] Favorite Restaurant: The Melting Pot Favorite Landmark: Japanese Tea Garden Favorite San Antonio Tradition: San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo