We Tried It: The Drumming-Inspired Workout Where You Rock Out All Class Long

It's as fun (and hard) as it sounds.

Pound Fitness at Philly Dance Fitness | Photo by Lani Assaf

Pound Fitness at Philly Dance Fitness | Photo by Lani Assaf

The Need-to-Know
Beginner friendly: Yes.
Time commitment: 45 minutes.

What: Pound Fitness at Philly Dance Fitness, 1624 South Street, Graduate Hospital.

When: Wednesday, February 10th at 8 p.m.

Instructor: Lehla Olson

Thoughts walking into class:

Adjua: I made the (bad) decision to watch a video of Pound Fitness right before we walked out of the office to head to the studio. I hadn’t been scared before, but after seeing the rhythm required, I knew I would probably look like a deer in headlights come class … a drunk (because what else could explain that lack of coordination?) deer in headlights.

Emily: Unlike Adjua, who told me she watched a few Pound Fitness YouTube videos to mentally prep for what was in store for us, I did zero research. Be Well Philly has followed @poundfit on Instagram for awhile, so I was familiar with the general concept — there would be drum sticks, and I would be smashing them on the ground — but that was pretty much it. I assumed the class would also require some semblance of coordination and rhythm, two things I sorely lack, so I figured it would be a completely humiliating experience — fun, but humiliating. Sort of like that time I danced with the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders.

The vibe:

Adjua: First off, props to everyone who did the class before us then stuck around for the Pound class after. Props. Philly Dance Fitness’s South Street location is quite literally a dance studio, made up of just one room with mirrors, so the switch from class to class can be a bit hectic. But once we were settled with our mats — something I didn’t know we’d need — and sticks, it was smooth sailing.

Emily: It was a bit of a chaotic scramble at the beginning of class, as one class ended just a few minutes before 8 — our start time — leaving us scrambling to get set up. Luckily, Pound only requires a pair of bright green sticks, which instructor Lehla provides, and a mat, of which there are many to borrow near the back of the studio. We were surprised to see that several of the students who’d just completed the dance class before ours stuck around for Pound, and that Lehla was teaching both classes. Talk about beast mode. Adjua and I found our spots (in the back, of course), and gave each other nervous smiles. It was go time.

How we felt halfway through:

Adjua: I mean, 10 minutes in, my legs were burning something fierce. So halfway through, I’d guess it was that times 10, but I’ve sort of blocked the burning out at this point. Selective memory, you know? I was really surprised by how much squatting and lunging the class involved. I was also surprised to find that I was EVEN less coordinated than I’d previously thought. To make it worse, you’re banging the drumsticks together, so it is no secret when you’re off beat. And I felt like every single time I screwed up, Lehla just happened to be looking at me. I swear, she messed up once on purpose just to make me feel better, so that was nice. But once I stopped caring about the fact that I kind of sucked at the activity, it was really fun to bang those drumsticks on the floor with reckless abandon.

Emily: I didn’t even get halfway into the first song before it occurred to me where I’d seen these moves before: Stomp — yes, that Stomp, the percussion group turned dancers turned theater performers that became insanely popular in the early ‘90s. (True fact: My mom and grandmother took me to see them once when I was a kid, I think in Atlantic City, and I was awestruck. They seemed so cool!) So, this was pretty much a latent, childhood dream come true. I was just as awkward and uncoordinated as I’d imagined I would be, but this class was turning out to be a lot of fun.

However, it was also hard work: The class structure, which feels a bit like BodyPump — with “tracks” set to songs that incorporate repetitive, choreographed movements to target specific body parts — was such that you had between four and five minutes of hard work with rest periods between each song. What was challenging was the heavy emphasis on legs: In almost every track, you’re squatting, lunging or holding a squat or lunge while you tap the sticks. My legs could feel burn in the very first song and were definitely shaking by the midpoint of the workout.

Most badass moment:

Adjua: The few times I didn’t loudly smack my drumsticks together at the wrong time. Does that count as badass? I’m going to say yes.

Emily: During the butt track, when you pretty much stay in an elevated bridge for an entire song as you pulse and swing your hips to engage your muscles. I was able to stay in bridge the entire time. Woo!

Most embarrassing moment:

Adjua: Oh, all the times I did smack my drumsticks together at the wrong time. Duh.

Emily: During the seated ab tracks, when we lifted our legs while tapping the sticks from side to side. For some reason, the odd rhythm and simultaneous movements pretty much defeated my mind, and I had a hard time staying on beat with the group. It was like patting your head while rubbing your belly, and failing very, very miserably.

Most surprising moment:

Adjua: When I wasn’t actually sweating at the end of the class. Don’t get my wrong: It was hard and I was definitely feeling the burn, especially in my quads. But I think we alternated from standing cardio to floor ab work often enough that I somehow managed to walk out of the studio without my usual beet-red workout face on.

Emily: When I woke up this morning pleasantly sore in my quads: I’m not dying, per se, but my legs are definitely tired. I should note that my arms aren’t sore at all. Despite the fact that you’re tapping and banging the sticks the entire class, it isn’t a particularly challenging arm workout — I think my arms have been sorer after a Flywheel class (thanks to the weighted bars that are incorporated into the cycling class) than this one. So, if you’re planning on using Pound Fitness as an arm workout, you might want to think twice.

How we felt afterwards:

Adjua: When I got home, I walked down the very steep stairs in my house and thought to myself for just a second “This is it. I’m going to fall down the stairs and die.” My legs were that shaky. Today there’s some soreness for sure, but what’s surprising to me is that my upper body is doing just fine.

Emily: Well, the sore legs, of course, but I should also say, the one thing to consider if you decide to take this class is how late at night it is. It starts at 8, and you’ll get out of there around 9. I know that’s not like, shockingly late, but it was late enough to keep me up well past my bedtime (that dang post-workout adrenaline high still hadn’t worn off by 11:30), and I had a hard time staying asleep last night. For me, since it’s such a high-energy class, it probably would have been better to it around 6, to give me ample time to wind down for bed afterward. A morning slot would have been even better: I can see that workout seriously amping me up for the day.

The bottom line:

Adjua: I would definitely take this class again, as I can only get better. Plus, it’s like no other workout I’ve ever done, so it’s always nice to switch it up.

Emily: I would give this class a solid B+. It was fun, challenging — particularly for the legs — and time flew by fast. I just wish it was offered at a different time, and I’d love to see moves that challenge the upper body just a tad more.

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