Total Health: Kirsten Potenza of POUND Rockout Workout On How We Can Optimize Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing
Meet your body where it is: Set realistic and attainable goals that will keep you motivated and inspired to keep showing up for yourself. Listen to your body. Push harder on the days you can and take it easy on the days you need to. Just keep moving your body! All movement is good. Do what you love, your workout, your routine — it is yours!
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kirsten Potenza, Found of POUND Rockout.Workout.
With the words, ‘Be Good. Do Good.’ inked along her right foot, Kirsten Potenza, CEO and Founder of POUND® — Rockout.Workout., leads her body, life and business with that mantra. Potenza founded POUND® at the age of 24, but was an entrepreneur long before that, opening an arts and crafts store in her backyard when she was 6 (aptly named, the ‘Forget-me-not Shop’). She grew up in a tiny town in upstate New York and began playing sports at the age of 5, eventually becoming a Division One athlete at UCLA. But it wasn’t until she left college and was no longer playing team sports that she realized there was a shift in what motivated her — and others — to workout. ‘I went from working out with purpose, camaraderie and a focus on performance, to moving my body just to look better — it didn’t feel right.’
Potenza designed POUND® to be something that connected people directly with the beat, using music as an escape to empower and motivate. She believes strongly that a workout should feel as powerful and moving as playing or listening to music. Today, POUND® transcends the common experience of the gym through the fusion of movement and making music. ‘Human beings are yearning for human connection and want to be part of something that’s bigger than a workout.’ says Potenza. ‘Movement should serve a purpose and have purpose — fitness should be about how the body performs, and feels — not just how it looks. Potenza aspires to change minds before bodies and create a space and environment where everyone feels welcome and accepted.’ Now with over 19k trained instructors in over 90 countries, Potenza feels strongly that POUND® and its passionate community have the ability to shift the fitness conversation and be a catalyst for change.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Hi! Thank you for having me! So, about me, I grew up in a tiny town in upstate New York with two sisters, one older and one younger. My mother and father were both entrepreneurs, and looking back, I now realize where I got a lot of my inspiration. At 7 years old, I turned a small outhouse into a gift shop in my backyard. I spent my days making business cards and creating products to sell to my neighbors and relatives.
Outside of my young entrepreneurial spirit, I was a self-proclaimed tomboy. Grace and quietness were not in my vocabulary. However, I began playing sports at the age of 5, eventually becoming a Division One athlete at UCLA, where I majored in Sociology. Being an athlete taught me most of my leadership skills. In addition, sociology instilled a passion for serving and supporting people.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I can’t say my parents 100% backed POUND when it started, but I can say that they are the reason it is alive. They were both entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators, and insanely hard workers. They led by example. They led in a way that didn’t even feel like leading, it just felt like a way of life. My dad lived by the motto Be Good, Do Good and I carry that into everything I do to this day.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I met my now-husband right before POUND began. He was there when it started and through the toughest of days, the panic attacks, the worry, the excitement! I gave my entire self to POUND and at the end of the day, there wasn’t much leftover for him. He always believed in me, built me up, and gave me the confidence to keep moving forward. It’s hard to find a partner who will do that.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?
I don’t know if this is ‘safe for work’, but at the beginning of POUND, I accidentally ate an edible (someone left a rice crispy treat at my house from a party), the night before one of the most important meetings of my career. While it was hilarious, it was also a little scary. The meeting ended up being instrumental in launching POUND and I can now laugh about it years later.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There were two. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Emotional Intelligence gave me the ability to understand my own emotions, intentions, and actions so that I could then understand others. Start with Why really left me with a feeling that guides everything I do to this day. Money is great, success is incredible, but if you’re not creating something that makes the world a better place, then what’s the point? It’s the long game for me. It always has been.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.” — John Lennon
Being a business owner is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It is easy to lose yourself in the role, the rollercoaster, the constant push to be more, perform better, and outdo everyone around you. I lost myself a few years in. It wasn’t until I realized that I had the power to curate my own life, to set the role that felt authentic to me, to LEAD the way I wanted to, and make decisions that I felt were best for people, not just for profit, that I was set free. Being happy is a constant mind, body, and soul check of whether what you’re doing truly aligns with what you authentically need and want.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Ok, so I can’t say too much, BUT, POUND is a program that was built to be for every person, any age, any stage and we have big and exciting plans for the future! We’re developing new programming and establishing strategic partnerships to reach more people in unique ways. We’re leveraging technology and data to bring science and art together. We know we have something very special with our global community’s proven power and magic, with over 25K thousand loyal POUND pros in 107 countries. The future is all about elevating and reaching more people!
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives: Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Movement: At POUND we often speak more to the mental benefits of the workout than the physical. From a biology standpoint, we literally produce happiness chemicals when we move and physically release what doesn’t serve us.
- Sleep: I am a new mom, so sleep and sleep science are a new obsession. Good sleep has the ability to improve almost every aspect of your life.
- Therapy: First of all, even with all of the incredible options, therapy is a luxury. But is truly a game-changer.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
Here’s the thing. Healthy habits are not always easy to keep. I believe that is because we oftentimes over-complicate or over-commit. I have learned that baby steps are key. When it comes to meditation, I try and commit to at least 3 minutes. There is NO excuse for not being able to do 3 minutes, of anything. I personally love Deepak Chopra’s 3-minute meditation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bs0qUB3BHQ
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Meet your body where it is: Set realistic and attainable goals that will keep you motivated and inspired to keep showing up for yourself. Listen to your body. Push harder on the days you can and take it easy on the days you need to. Just keep moving your body! All movement is good. Do what you love, your workout, your routine — it is yours!
- Workout Confusion: Your body needs to be challenged, not in the — push yourself to the limits — kind of way, but it needs to be surprised. Switch up your workouts from cardio drumming classes, kayaking, hiking, etc
- Hydration: Drinking water does not get the attention it deserves. Consuming the right amount of water will give you more energy and the clarity you need to get through your day.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I believe in intuitive eating and that a healthy relationship with food is important. As a society, we tend to put too much emphasis on ‘good foods vs bad foods’ and a lot of ‘weight’ on what we’re eating. With food, I would start locally (focus on just you), take note of what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. Take note of how your body and mind reacts to certain foods and let that guide you. Our body is our greatest tool, we just have to listen. On top of that, I would pay a lot of attention to gut health as there is a lot of recent studies on how connected it is to your overall health.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Empathy: For yourself, for others, no matter what
Gratitude: Replace your have nots with haves, it’s actual magic.
Human Connection: “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with” — Mark Twain
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
This one is hard. I’ve read the studies. I think it’s incredible. I also think it’s important to not oversimplify happiness or emotional wellness. It is very easy for some humans to feel emotionally well and VERY hard for others. Finding grace and compassion around emotional wellness is key for me.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Nature: Leave your phone, look around and just listen. It’s the most spiritual thing I have ever done.
Listen: Ask people questions. Learn, listen, grow.
Practice the Power of Manifestation: I have the 7 principles of manifestation written on a paper that I hang in my office.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
Esther Perel, Deepok Chopra or Simon Sinek.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
@ poundfit, @ kirstenpotenza www.poundfit.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.