Exercise class with drumsticks helps breed sense of caring, community

OBSERVER Photos by Jared Hill A POUND class has a session at Elevation Combat Sports Academy in Dunkirk. The class uses drumsticks to create a unique style of exercising.

Have you ever stumbled upon people in the gym dancing around playing with drumsticks to music and wonder, “What in the heck are those people doing?”

Well, if you haven’t experienced this, the exercise is “POUND,” and Tammy Racino of Elevation Combat Sports Academy (ECSA) has quite the following of POUNDers.

There is definitely strength in numbers in Racino’s class. More importantly, they are all in love with what they’re doing.

To the skeptic, Racino’s first instinct is to say, “Just come and try a class.” For those that do, they receive a completely unique group-fitness experience. Oh yeah, and a crazy workout as well.

“(POUND) is a full-body, cardio drumming class,” Racino said of the unusual practice. “It combines cardio, conditioning, strengthening, and it also mixes with yoga and pilates fused within that too. So it’s a full body workout. But, it doesn’t feel like you’re working out — it’s fun. I think what happens here is that the group of people who come to that class have such a high energy, and they make a lot of noise. They’re really loud, and they know that’s okay.”

Trainer and class instructor Tammy Racino gets ready to lay down another beat.

“It’s a stress free environment and it’s just fun,” Racino continued. “They hoot and they holler and they just cheer each other on.”

The basic idea is that you get a couple drumsticks, aka “ripsticks,,” make the world your drumset, put on some high velocity tunes, let loose and burn some serious calories.

“(Ripsticks) make you bad — right away,” Racino said. “When you go to a concert and you see the drummer and his arms are shredded — that’s it. Drumming is a workout. By the time you leave you’re exhausted. You’re dripping with sweat, but you also feel so relieved like you’ve just released something.”

The group atmosphere at ECSA is so much more than just getting together, letting it rip and having fun. These people grow with one another and care for each other outside the confines of ECSA.

“Most of it’s the people, 99 percent of (the reason) is the people,” ECSA member Heather Flores describing why she chooses this class over any other type of gym/fitness program. “We have formed like a family here. We just all get along with each other, we support each other, we’re goofy and silly and nobody cares if anybody makes a mistake. … We’re just a family.”

That support extends to community work as well.

Charlene Biscaro, an ECSA member and volunteer at the East Dunkirk Fire Department, spoke about a time where ESCA took two weeks back in December to help collect change for herself and the department. Also an Absolut Care employee, Biscaro was pleased to find that one night — after the POUND class was over — Racino donated all the proceeds from her class to help fund the Breast Cancer Walk for Absolut Care in Westfield.

“It’s nice to come here and have the support of a family-type atmosphere. You’re not just a gym member, you’re a friend or family,” Biscaro said.

“It’s a much more upbeat clientele, just really good vibes out there,” ECSA owner Dave Harriger said of the POUND class. “(They’re) just good all-around people, they’re all about community based projects. … I think the best part about this is the support they have for each other. We have people who go through hardships and these people pull together. They’re a good class and good people.”

ECSA is located on 87 East Lake Shore Drive. POUND classes are $5 for ECSA members, $6 for non-members and are held on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, times may vary. To learn more visit: www.ecsafight1.com