You Can’t Stop the Beat

Give both your body and brain a tune-up with Drums Alive

September 25, 2012

Karen Krieg, left, wants her students to have a ball — and drumsticks to hit it with.

Drum roll, please! Now jump up and click your sticks together, then hop around in a circle, thwacking away at a stability ball. That routine won’t make you look like a rock star, but that’s not the point. Drums Alive is designed to help you develop a rocking body.

What It Is: Drumming for fitness has become a hit in other cities, and Rockville’s Life Time Athletic brought the trend here this month. Instructor Karen Krieg was attracted to the program as a way to meld cardio and mind-body movement — because you’d better think about where you’re slamming those sticks. It’s a stress reliever, a coordination booster and a sweat inducer. Plus, it’s fun. “You walk out feeling euphoric,” Krieg says.

Moves: All you really have to know is the single (hit the ball with one drumstick), the double (hit the ball with both drumsticks) and the overhead click. The challenge comes from combining those strikes with legwork, such as lunges, leaps and mambo dance steps.

After a warm-up, Krieg teaches a “cultural drumming” song, which can incorporate choreography from anywhere in the world — South America, Ireland, Japan, India.

Then she’ll start working through the cardio segment. Unlike Zumba and other aerobics classes that switch things up at each song, Drums Alive builds up to one longer routine.

“It goes from simple to complex, and along the way, I introduce levels,” Krieg says. So, when students are doing a grapevine and then hitting their neighbor’s ball, they can add a spin or just stay facing forward. Not everyone masters the later moves, such as the Pee Wee, which requires a bunch of hopping and hitting the ball in front of you and then behind you. Most folks catch onto enough of the routine that it doesn’t matter.

Workout: If you’re really jumping and smacking, Drums Alive can challenge any “cardio queen,” Krieg says. You might not notice, however, until the next day when you realize how many lunges you did and how sore your shoulders are. Beginners who stick with easier options won’t work up quite as much of a sweat, but they won’t feel left behind.

Crowd: Hear that rumble before class? That’s everyone playing with their drumsticks because they can’t wait to get started. Although this eager percussion section skews slightly older than other gym classes, all ages are welcome. That’s why Tali Sadan, 31, is excited to come regularly with her 70-year-old dad, Avi, who’s using Drums Alive as a way to work on his memory.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” she says. “It’s so much more interesting than the treadmill.”

Wed. at 11 a.m. at 1151 Seven Locks Road, Rockville (more class times soon). Nonmembers can get a free week pass at Lifetimefitness.com.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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Rachel Kaufman | September 24, 2012