Different drummers: Offbeat cardio exercise taking off

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
A cardio-drumming class has been a frequent sight outside Chat About Nutrition, 497 Hill Road N. in Pickerington. The sun was setting behind the strip-mall location Sept. 29 during this class. The free classes, which required owned or rented equipment, are held Tuesday and Thursday evenings or Saturday mornings.

Sidney Carter has been attending Cindy Poland’s cardio-drumming class for less than two months, but it took him only until the first cold Saturday morning to realize it was making a difference – even if he can’t quantify that with a number. 

“I went to put on a sweatshirt that’s normally tight. It’s not tight anymore,” said Carter, 57, of east Columbus. “I haven’t been on a scale, but I know the holes on my belt are going the right way. Clothes aren’t on my stomach really tight anymore. Anything positive, I’m willing to do.”

Motorists traveling state Route 256 through Pickerington on Tuesday and Thursday evenings or Saturday mornings – not to mention customers at a nearby fast-food restaurant – might see dozens of drummers in a parking lot in front of a strip mall who agree.

The echo of tapping drumsticks, against exercise balls and each other, coupled with energetic instruction from Poland and music ranging from classic rock to Christian contemporary to hip-hop, have become an increasingly popular thrice-weekly staple. 

Sponsored by Chat About Nutrition, a shop serving protein shakes and healthful teas, the free class has increased from 22 participants at its debut April 2, 2019, to a record 91 on Oct. 6.

Participants, most of them women, have ranged from ages 4 to 79.

Instructor Cindy Poland moves through her routine to "Who Let The Dogs Out" during a cardio-drumming class Sept. 29 outside Chat About Nutrition, 497 Hill Road N. in Pickerington.

For about $20, attendees may buy drumsticks, an exercise ball and a bucket in which to place the ball. Equipment may be rented from Chat About Nutrition for $5. 

Poland, Chat About Nutrition co-owners Mark and Julie Owens and several participants estimated they burn 400 to 500 calories per session. Many buy shakes or teas before class and enjoy them after as dinner or a reward.

Denis Luther, right, of Pickerington focuses in to learn the routine during a cardio-drumming class Sept. 29 outside Chat About Nutrition, 497 Hill Road N. in Pickerington.

“You’re 6 feet apart. You’re out getting vitamin D in the fresh air. You can see people face to face. It’s just like one big network of exercise, nutrition and social (interaction),” said Poland, a Pickerington resident who has led the class since its inception and recounted stories of how drumming has helped participants with attention-deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, among other conditions, because of muscle memory and energy expended by the brain.

“We say you get smarter as you cardio drum,” Poland said. “It’s (about) modification. We show high-intensity and modifying that level. You can do it sitting down. You can do it standing up. It’s about what your body is telling you you need.”

A sign informing customers about cardio-drumming classes sits outside Chat About Nutrition at 497 Hill Road N. in Pickerington.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic did not close Chat About Nutrition but halted in-person classes, so Poland conducted sessions from her driveway and garage via Facebook. Attendance, which had dipped to single digits the previous winter when classes were held at Sycamore Creek Senior Living in Pickerington, soared after sessions returned to the parking lot in early June. 

“People couldn’t wait to get back,” Mark Owens said. “Eighty percent is motivation. Twenty percent is exercise, but 100% is mindset.” 

Pickerington resident Karen Hammond regularly attended classes from the beginning, despite living more than 50 miles away in the Perry County village of Shawnee.

Hammond, 76, now lives in a nearby retirement community and said she has lost more than 70 pounds and gained increased mobility in her knees.

“The first couple times I was really sore, but I pushed through,” Hammond said. “When I first started, I had trouble walking. I still have some trouble lifting my feet off the ground, but my balance is so much better now. A year ago, some of the moves where I had to lift my feet, I couldn’t do them. I can do them now. It’s helped me tremendously.” 

Classes are expected to continue outdoors into November. Chat About Nutrition still is seeking an indoor site for the winter months. 

“The secret to this is to have fun,” Carter said. “If you make it fun, you’ll be doing the cool-down before you know it, then the class is over. Just don’t think about what you’re doing. That takes the fun out of it.”

For more information about the classes, go to facebook.com/chataboutnutrition

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Instructor Cindy Poland leads participants through a stretching routine at the beginning of a cardio-drumming class Sept. 29 outside Chat About Nutrition, 497 Hill Road N. in Pickerington. More than 70 people participated in this class.