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Kirsten Potenza: “Finding yourself”

We also make choices that honor our values, and not what will “sell”, which to me is very rebellious. Our imagery and marketing are inclusive. We refuse to use before and after photos. We are not a before and after photo — we’re a long beautiful journey. We keep bodycentric talk out of our language and put […]

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We also make choices that honor our values, and not what will “sell”, which to me is very rebellious. Our imagery and marketing are inclusive. We refuse to use before and after photos. We are not a before and after photo — we’re a long beautiful journey. We keep bodycentric talk out of our language and put minds before bodies. By doing the opposite we could easily get more clicks, more press attention and increase our revenue, but we choose not to. Because we truly believe we can do better.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kirsten Potenza, CEO and Founder of POUND® — Rockout.Workout. Potenza founded POUND® at the age of 24, designing it 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. Potenza aspires to change minds before bodies and create a space and environment where everyone feels welcome and accepted. As a self-proclaimed fitness rebel, Potenza seeks to shift the fitness conversation and be a catalyst for change.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My entrepreneurial journey started at the age of 7, when I opened a store in an old outhouse in my backyard called the forget-me-not-shop. I made my own business cards and sold homemade potpourri and puzzles to anyone who visited. I loved making things that put a smile on people’s faces. I can’t remember a time since then, that I wasn’t working. I also can’t remember a time where I wasn’t moving my body — or part of an athletic team. Cut to my early 20’s and post-college, where I was a division one athlete at UCLA. Long story short — the world that I grew up in — where my focus was on how my body performed, suddenly shifted to how it looked. I didn’t love the traditional body-centric ‘gym world’ I found when I got out of team sports.

Before creating POUND, I dipped my toes in the water of many industries, and it wasn’t until POUND that I found everything I wanted in a job and a life.

Creating POUND was about creating a space where everybody, any age, and any stage could not only feel included, but also empowered, both physically and mentally. It was the team, and the family that I knew everyone secretly (or not so secretly) yearned for. And 9 years later, I’m proud to say that POUND has gone beyond the gym, its built friendships, fostered communities and helped humans become the best versions of themselves.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

When we say Fitness Rebels, people usually assume its the rock and roll side of being rebellious (which it is), but being rebellious is also about going against the grain, or societies perception of what ‘should be’, of what is ‘perfect’ and what you should be doing. At POUND, we believe (and love) that every human is different and because of that, we want them to meet the workout exactly where they are, so they can get exactly what they need.

We also make choices that honor our values, and not what will “sell”, which to me is very rebellious. Our imagery and marketing are inclusive. We refuse to use before and after photos. We are not a before and after photo — we’re a long beautiful journey. We keep bodycentric talk out of our language and put minds before bodies. By doing the opposite we could easily get more clicks, more press attention and increase our revenue, but we choose not to. Because we truly believe we can do better.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I think subconsciously, my parents have always been sitting on my shoulders pushing me forward in life. My parents, at their core, are artists. But they are also two of the most hard-working, stubborn people I know. When someone says I can’t do something, I will prove them wrong. They, through a childhood filled with creativity and the freedom to explore, gave me the strength and confidence to go out and do something different.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Be Good. Do Good.
  2. My dad picked up this motto about 15 years ago and it is one that has stuck with me through life. Why? Because its simple. Be good and do good. And when you’re not, check yourself and get better. I think true happiness results, not from winning, or achieving, but from growth. And it is this motto that reminds me of that on a daily basis.
  3. Stay true to yourself! We truly believe in being ‘fitness rebels’ and staying true to your authentic self can often be the MOST rebellious act! #BornToRebel
  4. Be on the persistent pursuit of progress. Personally and professionally. I believe that a great company is always learning, always listening, and always evolving. Our community at POUND is so powerful, they teach us something new every day.

How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m so excited about 2020! At HQ, we’re focusing on our PROS and creating as many experiences as we can to bring them, and our community together — making the human connection even more important than it ever has been. We’re kicking off the New Year with our “Born to Rebel” campaign. We’re asking our community, and the fitness industry, to lean into their fears, make their own rules and kick down the doors of society’s perception of perfect. In March, we’ll be hosting a live podcast panel event in Denver for our topical series, Big Green Couch, with the amazing ladies of the Women in Fitness Organization. We’ll be highlighting amazing women in fitness and discussing how to empower and celebrate women in the space.

We’re also releasing a few new products, but those are hush hush for now.

Oh, and maybe this will be the year I take a real vacation.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Honestly, so many. I will say though, the daily stoic was one of the best reads of 2019. Waking up and receiving bite-sized stoicism was so life-changing and really brought purpose to each and every day of the year. I’m also reading Eat That Frog, which has already changed my daily practice and improved my prioritization and execution skills.

I also love the podcasts How I Built This, Tim Ferris, Where Should We Begin and The Splendid Table.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A quote that has helped re-shape my life is one of my Emily McDowell:

“Finding yourself” is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten-dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. “Finding yourself” is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.”

The world really has a way of getting its hands on you and being a business owner can come with so many pressures, internally and societally. When I read this quote, I began to realize the layers of expectation that I assigned to myself had almost forced an inaccurate lens upon my life. When I began to peel back the layers, I realized so much about myself and began to really return to a place I hadn’t been in a while.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@kirstenpotenza @poundfit — please connect!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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, designing it 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. Potenza aspires to change minds before bodies and create a space and environment where everyone feels welcome and accepted. As a self-proclaimed fitness rebel, Potenza seeks to shift the fitness conversation and be a catalyst for change. Find a POUND class near you! Poundfit.com

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