Disclaimer: This is transcribed using AI. Expect (funny) errors.
Mindy Peterson: [00:00:00] Mindy Peterson. And this is Enhance Life with Music, a holistic look at the power of music in our everyday lives. My guest today is Kirsten Potenza. Kirsten is the CEO and a founder of POUND, a workout that fuses making music and movement. Kirsten has appeared on shows including Live with Kelly, The View, and The Steve Harvey Show; and has been featured in an Adidas campaign and Nike’s list of LA influencers. Welcome to Enhance Life with Music, Kirsten.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:00:33] Oh, thank you for having me. I’m excited.
Mindy Peterson: [00:00:35] Well, I’m really looking forward to learning more too, about POUND. Today I’m going to read a paragraph from the POUND website from the about section, and when I read this POUND just had me, I was like, okay, I need to check this out and learn more. So on that about section, it says channel your inner rock star with this full body cardio jam session inspired by the infectious, energizing and sweat dripping fun of playing the drums instead of listening to music, you become the music in this exhilarating full body workout that combines cardio conditioning and strength training with yoga and Pilates inspired movements using rip sticks, lightly weighted drumsticks engineered specifically for exercising POUND transfers, drumming into an incredibly effective way of working out. So I read that and like I said, was just like, Oh my goodness, I need to check this out. You were about 24 years old when you started POUND. Tell us how how did you realize that drumming could be exercise? Drumming and exercise could be one and the same?
Kirsten Potenza: [00:01:41] Well, first of all, thank you for that. I, I as as much as I am deep in the day to day with with POUND, I haven’t heard that that about description in a while and it’s fun to return to it. Yeah I mean it’s a section of our website that I probably haven’t have not visited in a while. I’m sure.
Mindy Peterson: [00:02:01] Definitely caught my attention, as you can tell.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:02:04] No, that’s amazing. And I it’s a it’s a really funny question and I will give you a little backstory. I yeah, I was 24 years old. I was post college. I had been an athlete for my whole life. And my business partner at the time was a trainer and she had been a dancer. And the idea actually came from one of our really good friends who was a drummer, and we were both drumming at the time and he just spouted out, Oh, wouldn’t it be funny if drumming could be a workout? And I think we were both like, Yes, that would be really cool. And we took, you know, two wooden drum sticks and we went on the top of my friend’s house in Laurel Canyon, and we blasted music for a couple of hours. And we just tried everything. And to be honest, everything that I didn’t personally enjoy, boy, you know, squats and lunges. But we teamed them up with drumming and incredible music. And probably one of the you know, I just had so much fun. I couldn’t remember having that much fun in a long time and, you know, woke up the next morning and literally from the tip of my toes to the top of my head.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:03:26] And I had been moving. I’d been an athlete since the age of five. I have not felt like that ever. Like every yeah, every inch of my body felt the effects of moving with drumming and including drumsticks. And that’s really where the light bulb moment went off. And for me, drumming was really a therapeutic place to go and I kind of came from that end of the spectrum. I was running a music venue and my business partner at the time was a personal trainer. And it it wasn’t about quote unquote exercise for me. It was how do we infuse this feeling into something that doesn’t feel so great for people? For a lot of humans, I loved movement. I had been naturally doing it my entire life. But post college, I had never been to an actual group fitness class, and I started going to the gym and it wasn’t a positive experience for me. So that light bulb was as much about teaming up, drumming and exercise as it was about infusing that empowering, incredible feeling that drumming gives you into exercise and into group fitness.
Mindy Peterson: [00:04:50] Well, I find that really fascinating that you were a Division one athlete, and somewhere in your website you said something about once you were out of college and. No longer participating in that team sport environment. You are working out just to look good. And it just didn’t feel right that that was the only reason that you were working out. And also there was this loss of the purpose and the camaraderie and cheering and all of that that goes along with playing a team sport. And so that kind of funneled into this new workout that you created as well. And I’ve heard that from other people. My my daughter was a Division one athlete, and I’ve heard that from other people, too, that when you’re in athletics, in high school, college, and then you when that ends, it’s like you’re kind of lost when it comes to, okay, what is my relationship with exercise now? Because everything’s changed.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:05:42] Absolutely. I think my my only experience from an early age was team or individual sports. You worked out together, you moved together, you supported each other. There was a common goal, whether it was, you know, winning a race or a competition. But you also had this built in support system and this human connection that not not every human, you know, gets in life and it feels good and it’s what all humans need and want. And so when I left that realm, yeah, I felt really lost. And I was living in Los Angeles and I started going to the gym because, you know, I’m like, this is such a big part of my life. I don’t want to lose it. And I also I know that I need to be taking care of my body and my mind because of my experience with team sports. But when I went to the gym and I know this isn’t everybody’s experience, but it felt very body centric, I think for the first time in my life and I know I’m very lucky to say this, you know, it was how do you burn calories and problem areas? And I’m like, wait, I, I liked my body. I didn’t think there was a lot of things wrong with it.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:07:00] And and it felt odd to go to a place where you’re supposed to honor your body and take care of it, where all of a sudden I’m learning of all the things that are wrong with it. Right? And so I kind of quickly just went in the other direction. I became a workaholic, a play aholic, and I lost that that piece of myself because it wasn’t a very positive experience. So when we realized that we could team drumming and music up with movement and exercise it, it was my mission to bring that piece back in. The magic that music brings to your mind and your body and your soul, and also human connection because and it’s what I have over, you know, 12, 13 years of doing. POUND It’s what I’ve fallen in love with year over year is that Group Fitness is one of the last places we come together to congregate as human beings. And human connection is at the forefront of everything we do at POUND and man, did we feel the loss of that over the course of the last couple of years? And the power of it? All of those things kind of melded together and created this really incredible package that is now POUND.
Mindy Peterson: [00:08:17] I know in your philosophy, what you what you just mentioned about the body is a big part of that. You say in the philosophy, we believe in loving our bodies while improving them. And I think I saw it worded slightly different in another place on your website where you said something about wanting to change minds before bodies. And I think that’s a really important piece to recognize, that this isn’t just about burning calories and sculpting certain muscles so that they look certain ways. But it is about being healthy. It’s about moving body for health. But then also that human connection that you mentioned, that’s really huge, too. And I think when I looked at some of the videos on your website of POUND classes, that was one of the things that appealed to me was that that human connection and I’ll confess, I have always been active, but I’ve I’m not really much of a gym person. Like I’ve always really, for the most part, worked out on my own, in my basement or outside or like I will meet friends and go for power walks. That’s something I really enjoy too. But other than that, if I’m going to work out, I just want to like, get in, get it done, do what I need to do to keep my back happy and my body happy and then, you know, be done with it. But when I saw the video of this POUND class, I was like, That’s a group class I could get into. And of course there’s the music connection. But let’s talk a little bit more about some of those benefits that come from rhythm, because there are a lot of studies and proven scientific benefits of rhythm and being involved in rhythmic activities and making music activities with other people. Can you talk to us about some of those benefits?
Kirsten Potenza: [00:09:59] Absolutely. And just to to speak to your point, I think I’ve I think I’ve had imposter syndrome, like my whole history with POUND because of and I’ve come to a place where I’m very comfortable talking about it, But I’m also it takes a lot for me to get motivated to work out. I wasn’t a gym person. I had to really be in love with something and be motivated. And to this day, I struggle with making time for movement, with working out. And I’ve come to learn that that’s really also where the magic happened in the beginning of POUND, because millions and millions of people around the world feel the same way. And there are so many micro details built into our program that touch on those things. How do we make something feel welcoming and inclusive and addicting and fun and empowering? Because I’m not going to show up otherwise. And how do we get people to tune into their bodies and their minds? We were talking about mental health long before it became a super trend, but to be honest, the reason I got into drumming in the first place, I started when I was in the fifth grade because I had a crush on a boy who was a drummer, and for some reason I thought being like him would I don’t know.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:11:20] I’ll talk about that in therapy in the future. But I. I got back into it later on in life because not because I wanted to be a musician, but because it was like stress relief. It was therapeutic. I felt like I could unplug, if you will. And I think there’s a reason why. I know there’s a reason why music therapists and therapy programs use drumming and rhythm to promote healing, stress relief, self-expression, drumming really disconnects you from the outer world and connects you with your inner world. And that’s such a difficult thing to do in this day and age. And the sound of drumming really generates connections in all parts of your brain and connects your left and right side, which that like synchronizing of the left and right side. It happens in meditation. It really puts you in this meditative flow state, put science and all of the studies aside, which there are so many that prove the benefits of drumming with your mental health, stress relief, Alzheimer’s addiction, healing. Put all of that aside and just the fact that you get to hit something for 45 minutes, like as a as a woman, like I grew up being told that I was rambunctious and loud and and, you know, there’s shame built around that.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:12:58] And for somebody who isn’t allowed to be those things or do those things or feel those things, POUND gives you the permission to just let it all out and release everything. And that’s powerful and it is healing and stress Relieving that alone on an individual level is incredible. But doing that with other humans at the same time in sync with other humans, that creates a connection that you can’t really mimic in other environments. You know, one of my favorite moments in POUND was just sitting in the back of a room watching people connect on a level that’s so difficult to in this day and age with, you know, the Internet and technology and just the separation that we have. It’s so, so powerful. So having that in POUND and like I said before, all these like micro details that we’ve made sure to infuse in the experience, it’s incredible to watch. It’s incredible to experience. My favorite thing is to take a POUND class from somebody else because I love experiencing it myself.
Mindy Peterson: [00:14:09] Well, I love so many of the things that you just mentioned and one of them with just being able to let out frustration and POUND something and beat on something for a while. I know in your philosophy you also mentioned that benefit and I think you call it unleashing aggression, which is is awesome. It’s funny because I, I taught piano lessons for years and I remember one of my students just loved this family. Their kids were much younger than my kids. And I remember the mom talking about getting into a boxing class. And I remember at the time thinking, Oh my goodness, that sounds amazing. And I wish I would have known about that when my kids were her kids age when they were young, because that sounds I did not thrive in that stage of parenting where my kids were really young. And that would have been wonderful. Only therapeutic. I think for me to have had something where I could just beat out the frustration. And I think the POUND workout really provides that. It’s a great way to just unleash that frustration. And there’s studies that back that up, too. In terms of physically letting out, I would say adrenaline. There’s studies showing that if you just go for a run, it can really help you just get that through your system and get it out of your system. So I think this drumming can really have that same effect. You also mentioned the ability of drumming to get you out of your head. Do you think part of that is because it does require such intense focus?
Kirsten Potenza: [00:15:41] Yes. I’ll say this and just to speak to some of your points, think just about the week you just had or I just had or any human listening right now, we go through so much. And I think specifically right now and in the last couple of years, we’ve all been living in somewhat of a survival mode. And if we don’t give ourselves the permission to unload the heavy load that we are all carrying, it’s just going to build up and build up and build up and it’s going to come out in other places. So really honoring your body and your mind through any sort of movement. You mentioned walks like I’m such a big fan. Like if you can’t do anything, just go on a walk and be out in nature. Um, all of those things are so important. And oftentimes, you know, the first thing that we lose sight of because we’re busy and we’re taking care of everybody. But yeah, I think POUND really unlocks something in people and it’s, it’s a combination of movement and great music. And as you’re striking, you’re kind of breaking down this like armor that you build up. But I want to point something out Micro-details Once again, I wanted to make sure that no matter who you were, whether you were an Olympic athlete or never been in a gym before, any age, any stage, anywhere in the world, you could walk into a POUND class and feel like a badass and the workout would truly meet you where you’re at.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:17:14] Because one of the most discouraging things is walking into a group fitness room and you’re not introduced to the person next to you, or you don’t know the name of the instructor, and it can feel so intimidating. So we’re like, How do we build in all of these steps and how do we teach our instructor these steps so that participants truly feel like the workout is meeting them exactly where they’re at? So it’s pose based, it’s simple strike patterns, it’s syncing up with a simple beat. But the really kind of magical thing that happens is when you start learning the techniques and you nail the rhythm, you do feel like a rock star. And the best thing, the ideal experience for me is that you take that feeling of mastering something and the confidence of doing something like that, and you take that feeling outside of the group fitness room and into your daily life. Yeah.
Mindy Peterson: [00:18:11] So over to the rest of your life. The benefits and the effects.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:18:16] Exactly. There’s nothing there’s nothing better than that.
Mindy Peterson: [00:18:19] Yeah. I like how you mentioned that POUND is designed specifically to to work for all fitness levels, all ages, all abilities. I know I got to experience virtual an online class in preparation for our conversation today. And the one that I did, the instructor did an awesome job of saying if you want a little more challenge, do this. If you want to ease up a little bit, do this. And so just in the course of demonstrating the moves and going through the workout did a great job of showing different modifications depending on where you were and what you wanted out of the workout.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:18:55] I love hearing that. We I was just speaking to somebody yesterday about group fitness trainings. You know, most group fitness trainings are one day, eight hour, and we try and pack so much into our pre and post training journeys and the eight hours that we get with our instructors. But it’s those details that go so far. I interviewed a girl once who we ended up hiring at POUND and she was like, I was so scared to take a class. I don’t ever feel very welcome at the gym. And she’s like, I walked in and the instructor came up to me and introduced me to everybody else. And like, the people sitting next to me were so nice. And I mean, these are the things that are important that we elevate the value of in our in our instructor training. And so to hear you say that makes me so happy because that’s the goal, to make sure that all classes feel the same, feel just as empowering and welcoming as the next.
Mindy Peterson: [00:19:57] Well in the very nature. Of rhythmic movement together, which is what drumming is really lends itself to a bonding connecting type of an experience. I mean, there’s so many studies that talk about entrainment and whether it’s people attending a concert together, people in a choir singing together. When you’re experiencing that rhythmic syncing with other people, heartbeats can sync. You know, it’s just there’s a lot of scientific studies about that, and it is a very bonding experience. So that doesn’t surprise me at all that people are really experiencing the human connection piece of things when they participate in these classes. Some of the other studies that I think are referenced on your website and you had alluded to these to the stress relieving effects of drumming and rhythmic drumming, and part of that, I’m sure, is just unleashing that aggression, too. But it really helps the the brain, It improves focus decision making skills. Yeah, I think I saw on there that it can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, decrease chronic pain, anxiety fatigue. So lots of really amazing benefits that you can get from this workout. One thing that I’m really intrigued by, and I don’t know if you’ve thought of this or if you’re familiar with it or have done any studies on this, but there is a really strong relation between rhythm and the ability to keep a steady beat or keep a rhythm and literacy with people who are dyslexic. Have you heard that at all? I’m just wondering if kids who are dyslexic, for example, music lessons can be hugely helpful to them because as they learn to read music, it can translate to reading words. But also just there is, like I said, that powerful connection between literacy and reading and keeping a steady beat. So there’s numerous studies on this. One actual way that some people test kids for dyslexia is to see if they can keep a steady beat and clap back a pattern. But are you are you familiar with any of those studies? Have you heard any connection between that?
Kirsten Potenza: [00:22:10] Absolutely, I absolutely have. And we actually have a kids program that not only does all of the things that are our general programming does, but we built in these activities that strengthen self-expression, leadership, musicality. Because you’re absolutely right. Not only are you right in the fact that these studies have been done on the improvement of music, rhythm drumming and teaming that up with music and coordination. So so these are incredible for for any young person. And then if you’re working on those specific skills, it’s it’s even better. But here’s what’s happening in the world right now. We’re stripping away those things and children’s development years. We’re taking music programs away. We’re taking physical education away, we’re taking art classes away. And so just think about a developing brain and what’s missing from that experience and what that means for their long term success as a human. So yes, there’s so much power in doing this. Why are we taking all of this away from young adults and children? So one of the big missions of Generation POUND, which is our kids program, is to get that back in in any way. And it and it infuses musicality and movement and music and leadership and self-expression. These are all things that you don’t experience if you don’t get to experience music and art and movement. So very passionate about it. We’ll do anything to get it back into young people’s hands no matter what they’re dealing with. Not to mention our youth are, you know, more at risk for suicide and depression. And these are things that our kids need. And I just don’t understand why they’re being taken away.
Mindy Peterson: [00:24:14] Yeah. Well, another group of kids who I think could really benefit from these these workouts as well as kids who are taking music lessons, but for whatever reason, really struggle with keeping a steady beat or hearing that rhythm. And all of us who are music educators, music teachers have those occasional students who come in and you’re just kind of like tapping their back or having them march in time to the music, like anything you can do to try to get them to feel the beat because it’s just something that, for whatever reason, is not intuitive to them. And I’m thinking these classes could probably really help them, especially if they’re with a bunch of their peers and they’re having a great time having fun, keeping the beat with their their friends. Like, absolutely. That’s got to. Be hugely important and just making that click with them, I would think.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:25:04] Absolutely. I mean, I, I think that in general, sometimes learning an instrument can feel intimidating and I think it’s a really good gateway into falling in love with beat and rhythm and music. And we do keep it simple and straightforward. And we, we follow those simple beats and generation POUND or POUND rock out workout. And so I think that it is an amazing way for a young person to not only absorb and understand rhythm and have it kind of run through them. And when you put two sticks in anybody’s hands, it gives them permission to connect with music in a simplified way, but it also like it literally extends your lever, right? Your arm and your hand and it makes it or music a part of you. And when music is blasting and you’re moving with your friends, it takes the pressure off and you’re more likely to kind of connect with it. And I think because of that, someone might become more interested in in music or movement or rhythm because it’s a little less intimidating. I remember learning piano when I was younger and it feeling like so much to absorb, but I think if somebody had just like blasted music or just made me listen to it, it would have been a different experience. So. So absolutely. I think it’s a really beautiful gateway. It’s a way to open young people’s minds to music and movement and also in POUND. It’s another thing that we really wanted to infuse is it’s not just one genre. You’re going to hear many different genres of music that you might not listen to personally or might not have ever heard if you’re a younger person. So it’s a great introduction to to so many things that are so important for development and, you know, moving into your adult life.
Mindy Peterson: [00:27:06] Yeah, absolutely agree. 100%. Well, you have a podcast as well, the big green couch. Tell us about your podcast.
Kirsten Potenza: [00:27:14] Yeah, So the big green couch we launched, to be honest, our community and POUND in general from day one. It’s always been more than just a workout. Whether you teach POUND or you take POUND or you take POUND online. With our on demand platform, you’re most likely not just a group fitness instructor. You’re a mom, you’re a dad, you’re a friend, you have a career. We really wanted to provide much more than just exercise and movement support for our community. And we really pride ourselves on always thinking differently and challenging the status quo and I’ve had the privilege of meeting and befriending some really incredible trailblazers, and we really wanted to share those people with our community and bring their unique perspectives to our community. So that was what the big Green Couch was all about, just bringing all of these amazing human beings and their perspective, whether they live inside or outside of the fitness community to our community of instructors and participants.
Mindy Peterson: [00:28:31] Well, I will definitely, of course, have lots of links in the show notes for people to find your podcast, to find the POUND website. There’s a great search function on the website to find a class in your area. And as we’ve discussed, there’s also the online classes, I think you called it on demand. Is that right?
Kirsten Potenza: [00:28:49] Yeah, it’s called Backstage. It’s our on demand platform. So if you don’t have a class in your area or maybe you just want to start by working out at home, it’s a perfect place to begin.
Mindy Peterson: [00:29:00] Right? And there are over 25,000 instructors in over 100 countries that teach this. So the odds of finding someone in your community are quite high. But if that’s not convenient or there isn’t someone in your community, it is nice to know that the classes are available virtually online as well. Well, this has been so fun. Pearson Ask all my guests to close out our conversation with a musical, ending a coda by sharing a song or story about a moment that music enhanced your life. Is there a song or a story you can share with us today?
Kirsten Potenza: [00:29:34] I kind of have two. One of them was I will never forget my the friend who actually thought of the drumming and exercise combo. He was playing the drums while another one of our friends who goes by the name of Skrillex, they they had like a drumming DJ combo. And it was that performance. Moments that really gave me the push at the beginning of POUND. Just seeing the magic that can happen with with drumming and music in general. And it was a very simplified version of it. But my second one is I have a two and a half year old son and I don’t know where he got it, but in the last month we’ve been listening to like 60s and 70s Rock, and he has this little guitar and he just belts out like and sings. And just watching him experience music really for the first time is has been one of the most powerful things. And I mean, this little kid, like, feels it and like, sings it and. And it’s like that. It’s what why music is so beautiful. And to watch it just come so naturally. And a younger person has been such a beautiful experience for me and it just reminds me of the power that it has and that it’s built inside of all of us. Like I can confidently tell you that I will watch young people pick up to rip sticks and like Kill POUND like more than I see adults. It just rhythm comes naturally to us and music is built within us like our footsteps, our heartbeat. It is us. We are music. And it’s just a reminder to not lose sight of it. And I found myself like returning to all of my favorite music and blasting the music with him. And it’s just been so powerful to experience.
Transcribed by Sonix.ai