Fusing cardio and pilates, new 'Pound' regimen offers exercise while beating out frustrations

A workout routine has hit Baton Rouge that promises to be fun, yet intense. You can’t beat that with a stick.

Actually, it takes two sticks.

“Pound,” a workout that started making waves in national media a year ago, began this month at OpenBarre, a studio behind the Mall of Louisiana that specializes in out-of-the-ordinary exercise regimens. Pound certainly qualifies.

Rather than heavy weights, participants use lightly weighted drumsticks — drumming the air, drumming the floor, constantly moving their arms whether standing, bending or in Pilates positions, drumming to the beat of high-energy music.

Maryam Diaab, 33, who opened OpenBarre in January and introduced Pound classes earlier this month, said the early feedback from clients is positive.

“I think it’s just something totally different from the normal cardio or Pilates or even barre class,” Diaab said. “Pound fuses cardio and Pilates together, and with the added element of the drumsticks, the awesome soundtrack that they have. You can sort of pound out your frustrations, pound out your stress and all the time you’re getting an awesome workout as well. You’re listening to your favorite music. It’s kind of a party atmosphere and a really good time. I think that’s definitely the draw.

“It’s fun. It’s a lot more difficult a workout than it looks like.”

The difficulty comes from a lot of up and down, squatting and lunging movements, working the legs, and Pilates positions that engage the core.

“I thought it would be fun, and it was very much fun,” said Parissa Majlesein, of Baton Rouge, after her first Pound session. “It was a really good workout. I was kind of surprised. It was a very good workout. The weights are not heavy at all, but I’m sweating.”

“I did not know that I would sweat this much,” said Nicole Odom, of Prairieville. “It was awesome.”

Diaab, a Detroit native who moved to the area four years ago to teach at a charter school, created OpenBarre when she couldn’t find the workouts she wanted. The studio features aerial yoga, classes on a glide board that imitates ice skating and ballet-inspired exercises.

She discovered Pound in a story in Shape magazine and decided it fit in with OpenBarre’s other offerings. One of the things she likes about it is that it might appeal to men more than her studio’s other workouts. “It’s mostly women who are attracted to our classes,” she said. “I think it maybe pushes men away because they hear ballet, they hear aerial yoga, those are things that are not traditionally a man-type of workout. We’re open to everybody.”