Kirsten Potenza Troublemaker at POUND® Fitness.
Kirsten Potenza is Co-Creator and CEO of POUND®, a fitness phenomenon taught by over 25,000 instructors in over 100 countries to hundreds of thousands of participants every week. POUND® is the world’s first cardio jam session, inspired by the energizing, infectious, sweat-dripping fun of playing the drums!
The New York Times wrote, “POUND has been a hit, inspiring cardio catharsis—and a scramble for spots—at gym chains across the world.”
Kirsten has been involved in sports since she was very young. At UCLA, she was on their Division 1 rowing team. Like many athletes she loved the fitness, but also the group environment that motivated the entire team. If you’ve lived in this kind of support system, you understand how great it is. I ran cross country and track in college. We’d run 5 miles at 6 AM most mornings. Then we’d be out for 10 more miles at 4 PM, often getting back to the dining halls 5 minutes before they closed. We had a close group of people.
And you also felt the emptiness when it all disappeared after graduation.
I can completely see why that was one of Kirsten’s main inspirations when launching POUND®. She’s clearly built a similar culture into her company.
THE USER EXPERIENCE
Being in a POUND® class is a lot like attending a concert. The company is very particular about the user experience and the trainers must deliver that in an inclusive environment that honors each participant and their goal, no matter their current state of fitness. The music plays a larger part than verbal cues. Kirsten says, “You and your lightly weighted ‘ripstix’ both connect you to the music and movement while disconnecting you from counting reps, looking at the clock, and wondering when lunch is. You’re sinking into a beat that everybody around you is experiencing as well.”
This description is from their YouTube page – “Fusing cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and isometric poses all in a 45-minute session, this workout burns 600-900 cal/hour while rocking to your favorite music!”
Kirsten is very proud of the fact that they spent zero dollars on marketing in their first 3 to 5 years. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, Kirsten built the first two iterations of their website. They grew from word of mouth and even more thanks to their “POUND® PROs,” instructors who lead POUND® classes.
As POUND® continues to gain new geography, training is critical for brand experience continuity. One of the big successes is the simplicity of the rollout to new instructors, and the thoughtfulness of how efficient the training is. New instructors must:
- Complete the one-day 8-hour training
- Master use of “The Label” which is the instructor platform that digitizes and systematizes choreography and continuing education. Ongoing new workout music and routines keep gym members excited and motivated.
POUND® can avoiding demanding unreasonable time investment by POUND® PROs because they’ve digitized and centralized so much of their processes.
Kirsten chuckled when I asked her biggest challenges, giving me the impression that she’s been through a ton of them. Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you the same.
Not taking capital beyond their original investment – Naturally, it’s tempting to take investment and go for rapid growth. The leadership at POUND® decided their unique approach would be enough. Kirsten admits it was difficult doing it all with a smaller team. The positive of this was the tight culture they created. Look at startups when they get done with Series A and then don’t recognize themselves from back in the angel investment days. It changes the culture. Kirsten said, “We are able to stay true to our core values because we are small.”
We have over
who teach in over
around the world.
The challenge of international expansion – Being able to feed the demand of international markets means POUND® must be able to support them with shipping, distribution costs, language barriers. In the last two years Kirsten and team have made sure their growth doesn’t outpace their ability to provide logistical and brand support for every gym using their training.
THE MIND OF A TROUBLEMAKER
This podcast has a number of awesome quotes from Kirsten. These provide interesting insights into Kirsten’s mindset:
“I think any business owner must be rebellious, fearless, and able to take very large risks.
“You have to be so incredibly passionate about something that a certain type of blinders go up and nothing can stop you.”
“I’m incredibly stubborn and when I believe in something in my core, there’s nothing that can stop me.”
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