Now, I have seen a lot of things in my day. I’ve watched people drum on everything from table tops to pots and pans. I’ve seen people play their drums on street corners, subway stations and everywhere in-between.
But recently, a new trend (that has actually been around for a while) has captured the hearts and minds of fitness enthusiasts and would-be drummers alike in a big way.
Since about 2012, a new type of anaerobic workout that mixes the fun of drumming with intense cardio exercise, has taken the world by storm and is still going strong today. With programs popping up all over the place, such as DrumFit and Drums Alive, anyone should be able to find a cardio drumming class nearby.
It's easy, great for people of all ages and sizes, and costs next to nothing to get started. There is no drumming experience required, and you won’t be expected to learn any complex licks and paradiddles. This is a completely different type of drumming.
So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the fantastic world of Cardio Drumming!
What Is Cardio Drumming And How To Get Started?
Cardio Drumming is a type of workout that mixes a variety of standard cardio exercises with a fun and exciting drumming routine. By combining the two, you end up with one, full-body, killer cardio workout that will make you just want to exercise more!
This exercise originated, or was rather organized, by a program known as Drums Alive. The program was founded by Carrie Ekins who had suffered a pretty bad hip injury. This injury left her in a long process of physical rehabilitation during which time she occupied herself by drumming on boxes and inadvertently noticed the uplifting and physically beneficial effects on her mind and body. And today, you can find the Drums Alive program being offered in just about every YMCA in the U.S.
But, the cardio drumming story does not stop there.
Other programs started to pop up shortly thereafter. Some of these other notable groups and programs include DrumFit and POUND.
DrumFit is a program that is geared toward getting cardio drumming into schools all across the country. It has a full-blown curriculum that teaches children the importance and benefits of exercising. And as we all know, children love to be able to make noise and beat away on things that normally wouldn’t be allowed to hit with a stick. What better way than to engage them in a workout routine that feels more like a big musical game?
The really neat thing about DrumFit is that they are also able to provide kids with everything that they need to get started right away. Whether you are a parent or a teacher, if you are trying to get kids to exercise more, DrumFit is the perfect cardio drumming program for that.
Last, but certainly not least, there is POUND.
The POUND program is geared more toward adults who are looking for a truly high-intensity cardio drumming workout that is sure to take their bodies to the limit. When I tell you that this is one of the most intense cardio programs out there at the moment, you can bet money on that!
For the most part, these programs are more fluid than something a bit more tame such as Drums Alive.
Now, that is not to say that either one is bad in some way, because that would be a lie. They are both amazing programs, but POUND differs in that you won’t see any stability balls and buckets in a typical POUND cardio drumming group. Instead, you better get ready to pound the ground with those drum sticks.
To help you get started on your cardio drumming journey, most of the official websites for these individual groups have a convenient search bar for you to enter your address or zip code to see which groups are meeting near you.
From there, it is just a matter of deciding on when you can make it to a group meeting. Many of them can also supply you with the equipment you will need if you don’t have anything to use just yet.
What Are The Benefits Of Cardio Drumming?
Whether you do cardio with or without drums, one thing is certain; you should be doing cardio!
There are so many health benefits of having and sticking to a good cardio routine and those get amplified several times over when you introduce a drum to your workout.
Cardio drumming gets your body pumping out blood to your muscles and increases oxygen retention in your cardiovascular system which results in better overall health, can stave off depression and even has been shown to help clear your body of carbon dioxide and various other waste.
Most importantly, cardio drumming is good for your heart and lungs.
These vital organs are just like any other muscle; if you want them to get stronger and do a better job, you absolutely must exercise them and train them. The more blood that you get circulating through your heart over time, the better it can relax when in a resting mode.
I shouldn’t have to tell you of the massive benefits that you get from keeping your lungs in good shape, but cardio is one of the single-most crucial things you can do to better the health of your lungs.
What Cardio Drumming Equipment Do You Need?
There are quite a few different cardio drumming exercises that you can do, and the great part is that they all only require just a few things to get started.
ARLX Drum Sticks
If you are going to be doing any kind of cardio drumming, we recommend picking up a pair or two of high-quality drumsticks. Due to the high-intensity of most cardio drumming routines, using your hands to accomplish the same thing might prove impossible.
One of the more popular types of cardio drumming involves taking an inflated exercise ball and placing it into a bucket. This basic cardio drum set is then played by hitting the exercise ball, the sides of the bucket, or the ground with your drum sticks.
I don’t know about you but that sounds like it might be a bit painful for your hands after about five or ten minutes of this.
You don’t need to spend a small fortune on drum sticks as most of sets of drum sticks are rather inexpensive. Besides that, you are likely going to break a stick or two when you are just starting out.
For under 10 bucks you can get two pairs of ARLX drum sticks that will easily hold you over for a few months with regular heavy-use. They are what are known as 5A drumsticks, which essentially means that they are lightweight and will allow you to get moving faster and with less additional weight to account for.
Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball
If you are taking a local cardio drumming class, you are more than likely going to see people busting out their giant inflated exercise balls and putting them into buckets. As I mentioned previously, this is one of the more common sort of set ups that you will see people using as a cardio drum.
You want to purchase a balance ball that is fairly large (around 65cm in height is usually suitable for most people), and it needs to be made with an anti-burst material and be easy to refill when it starts to deflate from being repeatedly beat on with drum sticks… and trust me, it will lose air over time. To further prevent this from happening, try to keep your stability ball out of the heat for extended periods of time.
The Gaiam balance ball provides all of these things and makes for a perfect cardio drum for around only $20
Of course, if you don’t want to use an exercise ball as a cardio drum, ditch it and go freestyle with nothing but your trusty drum sticks and the concrete below your feet.
Drums Alive Bucket Base
Beating away on your stability ball while it is merely on the ground is not going to do very much good as it bounces around in all directions.
To remedy this, you need a bucket base to keep your stability ball in one place. Oh, but that’s not all this bucket is used for. You can also tap along the sides of the bucket to make a slap sound while the stability ball plays the role of the bass tones.
And to keep the bucket stabilized, it is simply a matter of putting a weight plate or dumbbell inside before placing your ball on top of the bucket.
The Drums Alive Bucket Base is the perfect piece of cardio drumming equipment to round out your cardio drum set. It is a total of 12 inches in height, and has an 18 inch diameter mouth at the top of the bucket. It comes in a variety of colors and features two carrying handles to easily transport it.
Cardio drumming is a fun, and highly engaging workout that can greatly benefit not only your overall health, but more specifically, your heart and lung health. The best part about it all is that it requires very few items, and a quick trip to the store or over to Amazon can have you up and running immediately and it is fairly inexpensive, to boot.
Oh, and if you have kids who like drumming, they will absolutely love jamming out with you as they get to beat away on the stability ball and jump around. There are plenty of programs out there that are similar to DrumFit that cater to school-age children.
In all my years as a drummer, I never thought I would see the day when someone had the brilliant idea to formally merge drumming and exercise. I have to admit, I find it rather awesome and silly all at the same time.Still not sure about cardio drumming? Saving up for a full drum set? In the meantime, check out a practice drum pad!