Pound drums up fans with rockin' workouts

”If you sing along you will burn more calories,” hollers Jenni Bolton to start her fitness class. Bolton is the founder and owner of Key Fitness in Mendota Heights. The studio is connected to Boltz’s Family Martial Arts Academy where her husband, Master Greg Boltz Bolton, teaches.

When Bolton hollers, it is most likely because she is teaching a Pound fitness class. Pound was introduced in 2011 by a pair of former female college athletes and recreational drummers from Los Angeles. The full-body workout is one of the first to combine cardio fitness with drumming. The class uses bright green Ripstix, which are twice the weight of normal drumsticks. An average 45-minute class is believed to burn between 400-900 calories. 

Beside the body burnout, it is the music that is the staple of Pound. While holding isometric and plyometric poses, Pound lets anyone rock out while they work out. Two- to four-minute songs are calculated to match extended fat-burning sequences and high interval squats and lunges. The movements draw inspiration from yoga, pilates, cardio and strength training. 

Key Fitness has offered Pound classes for the past couple of years. “It’s a party more than it’s a fitness class, but you get the same results. You get the same sweat, the same muscle burnout, the same high-intensity intervals,” she said. “At the end of class, you don’t even realize you did a workout. That’s what I love about it, because it makes it so accessible. It’s so adaptable to any fitness level.”

A mother of six kids and a survivor of domestic abuse, Bolton embarked on her fitness journey in 2010 as a means for relief. She started as a cardio kickboxing instructor, which led to meeting her new husband and starting their combined fitness studio.

“It was exciting to introduce fitness to people who had never incorporated exercise in their routine,” Bolton said. “A lot of them were coming from the same place I had come from, where I looked at fitness as a gym class or jogging. Because I didn’t like either of those things, I thought I didn’t like exercising. Once I started cardio kickboxing, it became my mission to help people find their fit.”

Much of the success of Pound locally seems to be attributed to Kim Cooper, who is known as the “Pound mama” of Minnesota. Copper has taught Pound and other fitness classes at Key Fitness as well as the YMCA in Southdale, The Studio Eagan and in corporate fitness classes at Best Buy, Target and Ameriprise Financial. 

“I honestly think that she’s the driving force behind why Pound is getting so popular in Minnesota right now,” said Lynnea Dalieden, a Pound teacher at Main Studio in Lonsdale.

Bolton attributes much of the success of the Pound class at Key Fitness to Cooper. “She’s been a huge force in Pound in Minnesota,” Bolton said. “She really pours into that Pound community. When we launch new classes at Key Fitness, she’s the one who gets all of the people in the community there.”

Cooper runs the Pound Posse MN Facebook group, where instructors and participants post events and upcoming schedules. She started her Pound journey in 2015 by driving throughout Minnesota to find as many studios that offered the class as she could. She now hosts Pound and Pours events where people can take a class followed by a happy hour experience. Cooper is immediately recognized by her bright orange hair and animated facial expressions. 

“I went to a Pound class and I fell in love with it because it was just so crazy and outside the box,” Cooper said. “This community grew and has kept growing. Maybe because I always refer to the Pound community as a family they call me a mother.”

Besides the incredible calorie burn, Pound’s accessibility is what draws many of its members. Mistakes in class are called drum solos. In class, there are no judgments and no strives for perfection. It was built to create fun.

Bolton, who believes that there is a kind of fitness format for every person, praises Pound for its creative energy:

“It really is a come-as-you-are format,” she said. “There’s no right or wrong. It’s just moving and having a good time and remembering that movement can be fun. 

“It’s taking that mentality back away from the weight loss and burning off the burger and pulling all the way back to the days when you just wanted to ride bikes and play tag or roll down the hill because it was freaking fun. Pound really accomplishes that.”