It probably comes as no surprise to hear that by akgame


									Rhythm-Based Fitness
By John Fitzgerald and Jim Greiner

   t probably comes as no surprise to hear that      aspects of good health practices and emphasizes       cal and mental challenges), a section focused on
   many people in modern societies are over-         the components of wellness philosophies: physi-       a cardiovascular workout, a wellness drumming
   weight, under active, and generally unfit. A      cal, mental, emotional, and social. Drums Alive       section, and a cool-down activity.
   study in the December 21, 2005 issue of the       combines the rhythm of drums with the passion            Carrie’s stated intention for the sessions is
Journal of the American Medical Association (as      of dance. It allows for expression and creativity,    to create a “whole brain (mind), whole body”
reported at demonstrated           as well as providing the participants with an im-     experience—to provide a platform for people in
that, in the words of the study’s lead author, Dr.   pressive degree of fitness and, most importantly,     all walks of life the ability to experience the joy
Mercedes Carnethon, “One important conse-            fun!                                                  of movement in combination with powerful and
quence of inactivity is poor cardio respiratory         Participants primarily use drumsticks on exer-     healing rhythms.
fitness.” Carnethon goes on to state, “This is                                                                    For more information visit www.drums-
a serious problem that should be addressed                                                           
by encouraging physical activity and making
environments that are conducive to healthy,                                                                    Taiko Fit: Michelle Unrau
physically active lifestyles.”                                                                                    Michelle Unrau, PhD, has worked in the
   Of course, we percussionists already know                                                                   fitness industry since 1990 and is a trained
beyond a shadow of a doubt that playing                                                                        scientist and educator. She is Executive
percussion is quite simply one of the most                                                                     Director of Group Exercise for FitCity for
uplifting, healthy, and downright beneficial                                                                   Women Clubs in Vancouver, Canada.
activities that human beings have ever devel-                                                                     Michelle founded the TaikoFit program
oped throughout our long and rich history!                                                                     in 2002 after a friend introduced her to
Recently, some very innovative people from                                                                     traditional Japanese Taiko drumming. The
diverse backgrounds, using a wide range of                                                                     combination of the drummer’s physical
approaches, have used the age-old, univer-                                                                     movements, energy, and the beat reminded
sally-enjoyed activity of playing percussion                                                                   her of her own fitness classes, and she knew
as the basis for creating groundbreaking,                                                                      that adapting the concept of Taiko drum-
rhythm-based fitness programs. It has been                                                                     ming to aerobics would be, pun intended, ‘’a
our immense pleasure and honor to inter-                                                                       big hit.” As a master trainer for the British
view five of these people and to explore the                                                                   Columbia Recreation and Parks Association
ways in which they blend their passion for                                                                     and senior management for a Vancouver fit-
percussion, fitness, and service to human-                                                                     ness chain, she was very familiar with the fit-
kind. Here is a brief overview of each of                                                                      ness standards required to design a safe and
their programs.                                                                                                effective program.
                                                                                                                  TaikoFit workouts range from 45 to 60
Drums Alive: Carrie Elkins                                                                                     minutes, depending on the class level—be-
   Carrie Ekins, MA, is the founder and                                                                        ginner or intermediate/advanced. Muted
creative director of the Drums Alive fitness                                                                   Taiko drums are preferred, but Gomibako
and wellness program. She is the owner and                                                                     (inexpensive “garbage can” Taiko) or fitness
education coordinator of Global Wellness, a                                                                    balls can be substituted if necessary. Tradi-
fitness and wellness consulting company in                                                                     tional Bachii ( Japanese drumsticks) are used
Germany.                                             cise balls, although hand-held percussion such as     for striking the drums.
   Created in 2001 in Germany, where Carrie re-      maracas, jingle bells, tambourines, or Puili (split      The use of pre-recorded music is at the discre-
sides, Drums Alive has been presented in several     bamboo sticks from Hawaii) can also be incor-         tion of the instructor and the class. Culturally
countries including the U.S., Japan, China, and      porated.                                              specific Taiko music is suggested to set the tone
in Europe. Carrie has developed a certification         Pre-recorded music is used for parts of the        for each class during drum setup, and music with
program that is available through Drums Alive        program; at other times the activity is accom-        an Asian flavor for use during the cool-down
and NETA (the National Exercise Trainers As-         panied by the rhythms generated by the par-           period. The middle sections of the workout are
sociation). An online course is available through    ticipants themselves. Each Drums Alive session        often unaccompanied by recorded music to al-
Desert Southwest Fitness (       includes a warm-up period at the beginning, a         low for flexibility of tempo and the execution
The program generally follows the guidelines set     middle portion that includes drumming tailored        of specific drumming patterns and energy-
forth by the American Council on Exercise.           to specific populations (such as well children        building drum rolls (called oroshi). Drumming
   The Drums Alive workout includes several          and adults, and children and adults with physi-       is performed in an upright as well as reclined

percussive notes   22 DeceMBer 2008
position to give the core and abdominal area an      elementary and middle schools. Rhythm Gym                Participants reap all the psycho-social benefits
additional workout. The workout concludes with       sessions have been offered at several conferences,    of community drumming, plus physical benefits
stretching and a short Zen meditation.               including the Oregon State Music Educators            such as cardio-vascular fitness, enhanced co-or-
   Fun, stress release, improved neuro-motor co-     Conference and the PACE (Physical Activity in         dination, joint mobility, range of motion, muscu-
ordination, and aerobic fitness are the intended     Contemporary Education) Conference.                   lar strength, and skeletal support.
outcomes of TaikoFit.                                   For more information visit www.rhythmgym.             The facilitator and an original world music
   Concerned with the cost of training and           org.                                                  program CD set the correct tempo for maximum
maintaining credentials for fitness instruc-                                                               aerobic benefits from the class. Participants are
tors and the impact on costs of fitness for all,     FitRhythms: Paulo Mattioli                            in constant motion as they use hand-held per-
Michelle decided to offer the nine hour for-            Paulo Mattioli has dedicated his life to build-    cussion to create their own rhythms while inter-
credit training program for free to all fitness      ing health, wellness, and community through his       acting with one another in various combinations.
professionals and school teachers. It includes a     talents as a world percussionist, recording artist,   The program design allows people to participate
training DVD and manual at a minimal charge          performer, educator, author, producer, and facili-    at their own pace; there are no steps, routines,
to cover the production costs. There are currently   tator. Paulo’s involvement in sports and drum-        or rhythms to learn. The intention is to create
about 50 certified TaikoFit trainers in the U.S.     ming from an early age led to the development         an inclusive atmosphere with lots of opportuni-
and Canada and the program is expanding.             of the FitRhythms program, which integrates           ties for success, personal expression, a full body
   For more information visit      both of these passions. The program concept           workout and, of course, fun!
                                                     evolved organically from Paulo’s facilitation and        FitRhythms offers two-day facilitator certi-
RhythmGym: Kalani                                    fitness experience and was ultimately designed        fication training that imparts all the knowledge
   Kalani’s 30-year career includes numerous         to meet the stringent safety and fitness require-     and skills necessary to successfully facilitate the
tours, recordings, publications, and presentations   ments of ACE (American Council on Exercise).          program and includes 16 hours of continuing
for various groups and organizations. He travels     FitRhythms was also the subject of clinical           education credits. Over 100 FitRhythms facilita-
internationally as a musician, presenter, and        research that documented favorable outcomes           tors and trainers throughout the United States,
trainer.                                             for participants who burned an average of nine        Asia, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom
   Rhythm Gym began in 2002 when Kalani              calories per minute.                                  have been trained in the FitRhythms methodol-
was looking for a way to combine two of his
favorite activities: making music and exercising.
He felt that two health-promoting aspects were
mostly absent from some fitness programs: the
social and the playful. The answer was simple:
combine the physical aspects of aerobic exercise
with the creative and social aspects of group
drumming. While attending a Taiko drumming
class, Kalani noted the physical demands and
believed that, in combination with the social
aspects of facilitated group drumming, this could
prove to be a powerful combination for physical
and social wellness.
   The program was first intuitively conceived
through both drumming and dance practices, but
later developed to meet some of the standards in
both music and movement education. The goal
of RhythmGym is to offer services and training
at little or no cost to those in need.
   Participants are taken through a progression
of activities that include stretching, breathing,
movement, vocalizing, and guided imagery. In
addition, RhythmGym sessions incorporate
body percussion, Rhythm Ball (using eight-inch
playground balls for rhythmic play and drum-
ming), and caxixis in solo, duo, and small group
activities. Most activities begin with unison
rhythms that are demonstrated by the trainer,
and then participants are invited to improvise.
The entire program is accompanied by pre-re-
corded music created specifically for Rhythm-
   Participation in RhythmGym sessions are
intended to increase socialization, elevate mood
states, enhance musical skills and creativity, and
improve physical condition, coordination, and
self confidence.
   Currently, Rhythm Gym programs take
place primarily in the Los Angeles area. Ven-
ues include recreation and parks facilities, and

                                                                                                                          percussive notes   23 DeceMBer 2008
percussive notes   24 DeceMBer 2008
                                                                                   ConClusIon                    member of the PAS Recreational Drumming
                                                                                       As you can see, each      Committee and is a trained Drum Circle Fa-
                                                                                    contributor—Carrie,          cilitator. His duties at Remo include managing
                                                                                    Michelle, Kalani, Paulo,     Recreational Drumming products and programs.
                                                                                    and Robert—has devel-        John had facilitated in the U.S. and abroad, as
                                                                                    oped a unique program,       well as regularly at Remo’s Recreational Music
                                                                                    and each of them has         Making Center in North Hollywood, California.
                                                                                    demonstrated enor-           He continues to freelance in L.A. in live perfor-
                                                                                    mous creative spirit.        mances and on many major motion picture film
                                                                                    Their work is a testa-       scores including Spiderman 2, Runaway Jury, and
                                                                                    ment to the immense          Swordfish.
                                                                                    inspirational power of
                                                                                    following one’s passion      Jim Greiner is a member of the PAS Recre-
                                                                                    in life.                     ational Drumming Committee and the Health
                                                                                       In addition to all of     and Wellness Committee (sub-chair for hand
                                                                                    the enormously en-           drumming). Jim is also head of LP’s Recreational
ogy. Sessions are being conducted both in the                                       lightening information       and Community Drumming Program. Jim’s
U.S. and overseas at fitness centers, hospitals,        we’ve learned about the fitness benefits of these        duties with LP include conducting clinics and
clinics, schools, youth centers, recreation centers,    programs, we’ve also noted that they focus on            workshops, making instructional videos, author-
and senior centers.                                     “emotional wellness” in one aspect or another.           ing articles, community outreach, and instru-
   For more information visit www.fitrhythms.           This benefit is a result of the connection with          ment-design consultation. Through his company,
com.                                                    other participants and their connection to that          Jim Greiner’s Hands-On! Drumming Events
                                                        all-important unifying factor, rhythm. After all,        ( he conducts rhythm-
Boom! Total Rhythm: Robert Wallace                      what’s the point of being physically fit it you          based programs and percussion workshops for
    Robert Wallace lives in the San Francisco Bay       don’t also have a sense of well-being?                   corporate, community, school, and private groups
Area and is a trained percussionist and dancer.            As percussionists, there are vocational op-           worldwide. He is also the percussionist with the
He has performed with Bonnie Riatt, Joan Baez,          portunities available to us that were not even           10-piece corporate special-events band The Bill
Mickey Hart, Airto Moreira, Margareth Men-              imagined a generation ago. From blending                 Hopkins Rockin’ Orchestra.           Pn
zes, the Starlift Steel Orchestra, Mike Marshall,       instruments from different cultures, to facilitat-
Jovinos Santos Neto, and David Rudder. Rob-             ing interactive programs for diverse populations,
ert’s background in African and Afro-Caribbean          to rhythm-based fitness activities, our passion
drum and dance, his love of sports and fitness,         for percussion can lead us in directions that are
and a clear commitment to getting participants          limited only by our ability to imagine new pos-
in touch with their inner rhythm, have given him        sibilities. And that ability is, by definition, limit-
the tools and inspiration to create Total Rhythm.       less—and drumming is good for us!
The classes complement other fitness routines:             But you already knew that!
lifting, cycling, swimming, yoga, aerobics—all of
which, as Robert notes, are based implicitly on         John Fitzgerald is the Manager of Recreational
rhythm.                                                 Music Activities for Remo Inc. and a freelance
    Total Rhythm offers beginning, advanced, and        percussionist in Los Angeles. He is also a
expert level classes lasting 60 minutes. Beginning
sessions are designed so that first-time attendees
can easily participate and get the full benefit of
the class. The program uses tall-standing Total
Rhythm hand drums, and involves combinations
of dance and fitness moves, stretching, chanting,
and clapping. There is no pre-recorded music
track; Robert facilitates the session as all partici-
pants play the same rhythms and move to the
same choreography.
    The sessions begin with clapping rhythms and
cardio warm-up, move on to full-body stretching
without drums, then on to the Total Rhythm
workout sequence with drums, and finally close
with a cool-down session, also with drums.
    Total Rhythm classes are intended to release
stress, increase flexibility and balance, give a
great mid-impact aerobic workout, increase core
strength, help with weight loss, enhance com-
munity harmony, and increase self-esteem. Cur-
rently the Total Rhythms program is available in
the San Francisco/East Bay Area and all session
are facilitated by Robert.
    For more information visit http://totalrhythm.

                                                                                                                               percussive notes   25 DeceMBer 2008

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