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Pounding the brews
Fitness instructor brings workout to Gainesville brewery
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LeeAnna Channell leads Pound exercises on Saturday at Left Nut Brewing Co. - photo by Layne Saliba

Every other Saturday, LeeAnna Channell gets together with a class of about 40 people and meets them at Left Nut Brewing Co. They’re not just going to have a drink, although they do that, too. They're going to work out.

“The way I see it is we’re all probably going to go have a beer on a Saturday night anyway,” said Channell, founder and owner of Rockstar Fitness. “So let’s work off the calories and then go have that beer.”

In her own words, Pound, the type of workout she teaches at Left Nut Brewing, is a “big cardio rockout party.”

You can hear it from the parking lot ― sticks banging on the ground, music blaring from the speakers. Each person is standing or sitting, depending on what Channell, a certified Pound Pro, is instructing them to do. As the music plays, the neon green Ripstix, which are similar to drum sticks, are lifted in the air or hit on the ground to the beat of the music.

That’s exactly what drew Channell to Pound.

“It was like my fitness soulmate,” Channell said. “It’s so fun with the music driving and everybody all together making noise with each movement. Something about that makes you forget you're working out.”

For her, that’s the joy of having the bi-monthly event, Sweat and Sip, at the Left Nut brewery. It’s much different from the gym atmosphere where Pound would typically takes place. The group at the brewery can be a little larger than at a gym, plus there are no mirrors forcing them to look at themselves and others.

“When you can get lost in a bigger crowd, you forget to be self conscious,” Channell said.

Channell was pretty active after growing up in Buford, playing volleyball and softball at Heritage Academy. Eventually, she stopped playing and went to Gainesville State College before getting connected with Youth With A Mission.

At the beginning of 2011, she was in southeast Asia. She came back to the states to plan her wedding and went back to southeast Asia with her husband, Scott, at the beginning of 2013.

When they returned, Channell said fitness just “fell in her lap” when her husband’s aunt begged her to help out with senior adults.

That’s how she got her start in fitness, but once she discovered Pound at a fitness expo, she was hooked and it has quickly become one of her favorite classes she offers through Rockstar Fitness.

“My older brother had a band growing up,” Channell said. “We didn’t do anything without music our entire lives. So having the fitness with the music together was kind of the perfect fit.”

She does Pound workouts for all sorts of events because it’s easy to modify any of the exercises for any level. For the same reason, at Sweat and Sip, ages have ranged from 10 years old to 75 years old.

“It’s just a different venue and there’s people of all sizes and ages and everything,” said Robin Patterson, who has been taking the class for almost a year. “It’s not like you’re in a gym where everyone is physically fit. It’s more like we’re all different.”

Channell said it feels like more of a community than what is normally found at a gym. While people are typically just going through the motions at the gym after a long day of work, the people who come to Sweat and Sip actually enjoy it.

After every workout, the class grabs some food from a vendor that the brewery organizes. Sometimes it’s tacos. Sometimes it’s hot dogs. One thing that’s for sure is there’s always beer to help them cool down.

“This whole group has made really tight friends, and they didn’t know each other before this,” Channell said. “But now, it’s just become a routine to come work out with their friends on Saturday.”

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LeeAnna Channell, center right, leads her group of about 40 people in an exercise called Pound, a cardio workout based on drumsticks and music, on Saturday at Left Nut Brewing Co. - photo by Layne Saliba
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