Beating Our Way to Fitness

New drumming class adds rhythm and fun to fitness.

Ryan VanBrackel shares my love of variety in fitness, so when Drums Alive became a part of the program at Premier Fitness I was one of the first people he called.

Currently Premier Fitness is the only fitness club in Annapolis offering the class full-time, but master instructor Mitzi Logan hopes to see this change soon.

In May, Logan and Premier Fitness will hold its first certification workshop for the program. Logan is certified to teach more than 25 disciplines, but is an advocate for adding Drums Alive to your fitness routine because of the added element of brain connectivity.

Logan said the program stimulates both sides of your brain. Pointing me to the research shown on the Drums Alive site, she said it improves creativity and concentration. The site goes on to say the class improves mental capacity.

Though I can use any help with brain activity that comes my way I was not convinced this class would be right for me. Rhythm is not a gift I was blessed with.  And noise is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Luckily, the second concern was addressed the minute I walked into the class.  There were no drums. Instead, participants use drum sticks to beat on fitness balls that are placed on the step pedestals. The noise was not going to be a problem.

But what about rhythm? The class did not magically give me rhythm, but because there were people of all fitness levels, including one participant with special needs, Logan started the routine very slowly, explaining how to hold the drumstick, how to beat with two hands or with an alternating single-hand rhythm and how to not panic if our ball should fall off its pedestal.

She also guided us through adapting the workout for our needs, showing us how to add jumps and hops for a more intense workout or slides and bumps for lower impact.

The first several songs were unfamiliar songs meant to allow the instructor to teach without the participants being too distracted by the music. During these first songs I found my rhythm, as much as I will ever find a rhythm anyway, and began to notice that I didn’t have to count my way through.

Instead I was finding myself moving to the beat of the music and actually relaxing.

Relaxation was the last thing I expected from this class, but participant Jessica Morgenstern, who has taken the class since it was first introduced, said the stress relief is one of her favorite parts.

“I can come in here on a Monday night feeling stressed out from my day and after beating on those balls for the hour, I walk out completely de-stressed," she said. "I really love this class.”

The last several songs were familiar to the entire class. Having worked through our fears of messing up and making a fool of ourselves, we were ready to have some fun.  The entire classed joined in in the singing, dancing and drumming that brought the class to an end.

I have taken classes that were fun, but I have never participated in a class with the same sort of party atmosphere this one had. The smiles on the faces of every single participant in the class were proof of just how relaxed we had all become before the class was complete.

I am a runner by habit. I love to spend a quiet morning out on the trails, but classes like this are a great addition to my fitness routine. They give me the opportunity to socialize and burn extra calories, but the greatest benefit I receive from them is in the reminder that fitness can and should be fun.


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