Niagara Gazette

April 12, 2014

Rock n' roll fitness

Summit Health in Niagara Falls offers a fitness class with a bang

By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Some people will do anything to enjoy their gym workout.  They’ll even bang on the floor with drumsticks if they think it will make exercise more fun.

And apparently it does over at Summit Fitness in Niagara Falls, where hitting the gym takes on a whole new meaning. 

A new class called “Pound” fills up quickly twice a week; the room is packed with participants who jam to the hottest tunes while tapping out the beat on specially made drumsticks called Ripstixs.

“It’s a workout that’s as wild and fun as being a rock star,” said Gail Vizzi, who co-owns the fitness center with her husband, Tim.

Vizzi first heard about Pound from a friend whose daughter is a fitness instructor in Los Angeles. She said the drumstick classes there have lines of a hundred or so people waiting to participate. In January, Vizzi flew to New Orleans, where she was able to take a class and get certified in the method. 

“It was amazing,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to get home and teach it.”

Vizzi describes the class as a combination of drumming and Pilates set to popular music from rap to rock. 

“The drumsticks distract you from what you are actually doing,” she explained. “You drum on the floor, in the air and all over the place. It’s a full-body interval workout, but you’re just sweating and having a great time.”

 “The classes are packed,” she added, especially the 6:30 p.m. class Wednesdays. “We start handing out drumsticks out at 6 p.m. We’re usually out of Ripstix by 6:05 and we have around 75 sets.”

The idea of Pound was born a couple years ago from two 28-year-old Los Angeles women who wanted to develop a way to combine their love of music with their need for workouts. Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom tried using drumsticks as they did various Pilates exercises and were surprised to see how easy it was. 

“We started trying all the techniques we that knew were effective (and adding) drumsticks,” said Potenza during a recent phone interview. “We were getting results (it) didn’t seem like we had worked very hard for.”

The pair then invented the bright green, plastic Ripstix and the craze started tapping its way around the planet.  The ladies have trained more than 1,200 instructors and are in 72 markets around the world. They expect to launch an online community sometime in April. 

In the meantime, local fitness enthusiasts of all ages are getting into the beat.

“I love it,” said Arlene Page of Niagara Falls, a recently retired marketing shift manager at the Seneca Casino. Page, who calls herself a “young 62,” said that club owner Gail Vizzi always manages to keep things fresh. 

“She’s always trying something new,” Page said, adding “You do this class and you just want more.”

IF YOU GO WHAT: Pound classes, using drumsticks and music in a workout class WHERE: Summit Fitness, 6930 Williams Road, Niagara Falls WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m. Sundays MORE INFORMATION: Call 297-4300 or visit