Tasha Armstrong loves the science behind exercise. As a respiratory therapist and a fitness instructor, she spends her time helping others be their healthiest selves. Her favorite way is through her Pound Fitness classes.
Armstrong got certified to teach Pound Fitness two years ago after seeing the class in-person at a gym in Columbus. She was immediately drawn in by the music, the intensity and how much fun the students seem to be having.
“You don’t feel like you’re working out. It just feels like you’re jamming with your friends,” Armstrong said.
Pound Fitness is the child of an unlikely couple—pilates and drumming. Participants use ripstix—weighted green drumsticks—to create a rhythm that follows the beat of each song, keeping them on pace with their classmates. The sound of the sticks rapping against the floor only adds to the energy of the workout.
“The more aggressive they get with the sticks, the more calories they burn,” Armstrong said.
Breaking a stick is considered an accomplishment, a sign of hard work. When one splits in two, the class erupts in cheers and yells. She wants her students to use the sticks as an outlet for their stress and frustration. Armstrong said that students burn between 600 and 900 calories, depending on how vigorously they rap their sticks.
The routines are varied in level of difficulty. The Pound Fitness program creates the routines for teachers, but Armstrong is able to choose her own music and take requests. She’s taught Pound Fitness classes to hip hop, rock, country and even Christmas music. She prefers to mix it up.
Armstrong leads the class from a bright green yoga mat at the front of the room. She and all the students are barefoot. If it weren’t for the lime green ripstix, it would look like yoga. Each class begins and ends with a warm up, a song with a slower tempo that allows the class to stretch and find their rhythm. At the start of each new song, she demonstrates the movements—riffs, as she calls them. The class follows, at first slowly, and then faster as the song progresses. They clap the sticks over their head and near the floor. They squat to create a drumroll noise and stretch to the right and left to hit the floor with their sticks.
While the class looks like a lot of fun, it is also effective according to Armstrong. She said that most first-time students are shocked at how sore they are in the days following the class. It’s a full-body HIIT cardio workout, featuring lunges, squats and stretching.
One of Armstrong’s students, Lesia Dinger, has lost 41 pounds attending the classes as her main workout, with a few gym sessions to complement it each week.
“The first time I came, I was hooked. I love music and I loved the atmosphere. I came back three times the first week,” Dinger said. “It keeps me going and keeps me maintained.”
Armstrong, who is also a Silver Sneaker instructor, notes that it is a particularly useful program for those with injuries as the movements are easily modified. She has even taught classes for children and nursing home residents. Armstrong’s own mother started by doing the routines in a chair and eventually graduating to standing.
Armstrong’s weekly classes gather up to 40 people, with around half of those being regulars. The sounds they create in unison push them to go faster, hit harder and burn more calories.