Cardio drumming classes provide physical activity, fun for cancer survivors

August 17, 2016 | Events, UToday, Health and Human Services
By Rebecca Schwan

Thursday nights can get a little noisy in UT’s Health and Human Services Building. The thump of music and the banging of drumsticks can be heard coming from the multipurpose room as cancer survivors gather to literally pound themselves into shape.

A new, six-week session of cardio drumming will begin Thursday, Aug. 25. The class will meet weekly on Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. Registration is $5, and all equipment is provided.

cardio drumming close-upCardio drumming is a cardiovascular workout that blends drumming, movement and dance to get the pulse racing and tone muscles. Participants wield weighted drumsticks to beat on a fitness ball during choreographed routines set to music.

“It can be intimidating at first, but the steps are simple and it won’t take long to get the hang of it,” said Yvonne Naserdin, 10-year breast cancer survivor and class participant. “If you can do aerobics or dance, you can do cardio drumming.”

Class instructors said the idea to offer cardio drumming at the Center for Health and Successful Living started after a former student invited them to attend a class.

“It was a great experience and combined physical, social and emotional wellness,” said Wendy Maran, UT associate lecturer of recreational therapy. “We knew cardio drumming would be a hit and worked to get certified to get the foundational knowledge we needed to teach.”

She and Holly Eichner, UT lecturer of recreational therapy, became certified through Drums Alive early last year and kicked off the program last fall.

“We have had such a positive response,” Maran said. “Our classes are very upbeat and coordinate the drumming and dance moves with the rhythm of the music to challenge our students mentally and physically.”

While the class is designed to get participants moving, the instructors said they offer modified movements for those who have limited fitness or mobility issues due to treatment.

“We have people who drum while sitting on a chair, and we have some who have a little less flexibility who do modified moves,” Eichner said. “Regardless of how they are able to participate, they really get into it. Sometimes it’s hard to hear the music over the banging of the sticks.”

Participants have reported an improvement in fitness, muscle memory, rhythm and patterning. Naserdin said she has noticed a difference in her cardiovascular health and muscle tone since beginning the class.

“I have killer calves,” she said and laughed. “My arms are firmer, too, and it helps with my cardio health concerns. I try to maintain a certain weight, and I walk and take this class to help me stay in shape.”

The instructors said the classes also are a great way to lift the spirits of cancer survivors.

“Many times participants come into class tired and not feeling like exercising, but we have a lot of fun moving and singing along to the music, and before long they are dancing and laughing and leave energized and in a great mood,” she said.

Naserdin said she leaves the class revived and ready to take on a new day, and she encourages others to give the class a try.

“I leave with a whole new attitude,” she said. “It was something I always wanted to try, and now I’m hooked. If you try it once, you’ll want to come back.”

Call UT’s Center for Health and Successful Living at 419.530.5199 to register.

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