Working out to a different drummer

2013-11-27T17:30:00Z 2013-12-02T12:42:14Z Working out to a different drummerBy Kaleigh Shufeldt Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Drumsticks aren’t just for making music. Bright, neon green, specially-designed “Ripstix” are now being used for a new dance exercise called Pound.

The cardio workout combines full body movement with nonstop drumming.

“It’s an interval workout with strength training,” said Alexis Kyriakis, owner and founder of Danser Studio in St. Philip’s Plaza. “It’s all about having fun, rocking out while you work out.”

Pound sessions last 45 minutes and consist of 12 songs and various routines that work out different parts of the body. Throughout the class, participants tap Ripstix together and hit the floor with them. The sound is rhythmic, the movements synchronized.

Kyriakis said her exercise studio is the first one in Tucson to offer Pound, and on a recent Wednesday morning, women streamed in, ready to drum to the music and work out.

They unrolled yoga mats, grabbed Ripstix, and chatted with the women around them — most in their 30s and 40s, but some in their 50s and 60s — waiting for Kyriakis to get the class started.

The large, open studio was filled with returning customers and people new to Pound. Women of all ages did squats and lunges, worked their abs and drummed to the music.

“The music is great. I’ve learned so much about contemporary music,” said Barbara Stokely, 66. “It is a great dance class and a great workout, but also it’s not so complicated that I can’t follow it.”

The tunes are new, old and classic, Kyriakis said. Each track is fast-paced and has a different choreographed exercise routine to go along with it.

“Alexis is amazing the way she motivates you, and she is constantly watching, telling you what to do, and she pushes you,” Anabelle Leal-Peña said. “It’s just a great environment to exercise in.”

Kyriakis said she is always on the lookout for correct posture and technique to keep people from getting injured or straining their muscles. She faces the class and does the movement along with them, calling out instructions as they move to the music.

The workout is difficult and intense, but students can make it as hard as they want it to be, Kyriakis said.

“There is the challenging aspect of it and there is the modification. As an instructor, I show all of the modifications in class. You are welcome to use them or welcome to keep challenging yourself.”

“The pounding is something completely different than I have ever done," said Haley Ochoa, who’s been going to Pound classes for a couple of months. "I do not like to exercise, but I love this class.”  .

In order to teach the class, instructors must get certified through the Pound Pro training program, a one-day session offered in states across the country.

“They send you the songs, they send you the choreography,” Kyriakis said. “It is very well-structured. If you follow it, there is no way of doing it wrong.”

Danser Studio started Pound classes at the beginning of the year, and now has three Pound instructors who hold classes throughout the week.

“The more there’s hype for it, the more people want to get trained and start teaching it,” Kyriakis said.

People can use the exercises to drum away their frustrations, tension and stress.

“I like the pounding and the energy behind it,” said Jennifer Barner, a newcomer to the class. “You’re dancing and working out some aggression, and exercising all at the same time.”

Kyriakis said Pound involves the body and mind.

“It’s one of the best exercises I think I’ve done," she said. "And I’m a dancer, so I don’t like to go to the gym. Pound I like, and I love teaching it.”

Kaleigh Shufeldt is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com or 573-4117.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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