We sat down with one of our group exercise instructors, Carol Saggiomo, to learn more about the benefits of her Drum's Alive class.
What is Drum's Alive?
Drums Alive joins the dynamic movements of aerobic dance with the pulsating rhythms of the drum. It is a unique sensory/motor program that is designed to give the mind and body instant feedback through continuous movement and rhythmical flow. It is a program that utilizes “whole brain – whole body” thinking by developing sensory motor reflexes and kinesthetic awareness. The physiological and psychological benefits are numerous including those found in traditional forms of aerobic fitness. Drumming has also been found to improve and increase the neurological connection between the two brain hemispheres, stimulating alpha brain wave activity which can lead to higher levels of concentration, sensory/motor improvement, and an overall sense of well being.
The goal of Drums Alive is to improve lives physically, psychologically, and socially, through a unique sensory motor drumming program involving drumsticks, an exercise ball, and music. Drums Alive can be done at all levels and all ages; from ages 4 – 104!
What drew you to Drums Alive?
About 6 years ago, I took Drums Alive with my two daughters at a wellness resort. Prior to this, I had no idea what the class was. After my first class, I left feeling completely invigorated and accomplished! I noticed that I had the “rush” that came from other workouts I had done… but there was more to it. I felt cognitively connected in class. This class required 100% of my focus, which shed off my prior stress of the day. For 1 hour, I thought of nothing but mastering these intricate rhythms.
Being a music educator for 20 years, I began to incorporate Drums Alive in my music classes with my students. Further on down the road, I began to choreograph new routines to new songs and presented this fitness idea to PEAC’s Group Exercise director, Megan Price. She and I decided to give this unique exercise program a try at PEAC.
What are the benefits of Drums Alive?
Here is some of the feedback I have gotten from my clients who now have incorporated this mind-body workout in their weekly routine at PEAC:
One of Carol's newest students, Sabine Kastner, is a research scientist at Princeton University. She has conducted research on the cognitive and physical benefits of Drum's Alive.
"Cognitive networks for memory, attention, or language set up intrinsic rhythms that help to coordinate information flow throughout the networks. I think that drumming and the rhythmic movements during our exercises in the Drums Alive class help us strengthen these cognitive rhythms." - Sabine Kastner, MD.
Nothing makes us happier than celebrating member success stories. Seeing regulars around the club day after day is already a treat - but to see them get the results they work so hard for is really something special. This week we met up with Jude, a longtime member of PEAC, who has lost 104 lbs since January.
Tell me a little about yourself.
Hi! My name is Jude Martin-Cianfano. I have three beautiful children and have been happily married for 25 years. I ‘m the Director of Events and Membership for the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce.
How long have you been a member at PEAC?
I joined PEAC back in 1997. I was living in Hamilton when I first joined, but would make the commute to PEAC (which was then PAC) because none of my local gyms came close to comparing. Eventually I moved to Pennington and was here almost every day until 2012 when I sustained a knee injury.
Tell me a little bit more about your fitness journey.
My weight has always fluctuated. For me it’s genetic – my mother died of obesity at age 36 weighing 350 lbs. My father currently weighs 650 lbs. Needless to say; I am consciously trying to break that pattern. When I hurt my knee, I had to get cortisone shots which unfortunately caused me to gain weight. Once it began to heal, I started to get back into my fitness routine. At that point I had also been looking for a metabolic doctor to help me with my weight loss. I ended up finding Dr. Chung at Capital Health through another member right here at PEAC.
How has your metabolic doctor helped you?
It was through Dr. Chung that I began the New Direction meal plan. After undergoing various tests, I was put on a meal plan that was customized to my body and lifestyle. My meal plan required me to eat a bar for breakfast, a bowl of soup for lunch, a shake for a snack, and a cooked meal for dinner. I was also told to consume 150 ounces of water a day. On top of following this plan religiously, I learned a lot more about my body through Dr. Chung. She taught me that my water retention was a huge factor affecting my weight fluctuation. Certain foods (chickpeas, sweet potatoes, black beans, etc) were causing my body to retain a lot of water weight. When I started this meal plan, the first 27 lbs that I lost was entirely water weight. When I started this program in January of this year, the first available appointment they had for me happened to fall on the anniversary of my mother’s passing. I knew this new direction I was taking was meant to be. By the first week of April I had lost 50 lbs – and best believe I rewarded myself with a Skinnygirl martini.
What do you attribute your weight loss success to?
Dr. Chung has absolutely had a tremendous impact on my weight loss, but I also have PEAC to thank. The community and staff here have been incredibly supportive of me throughout my journey. The group exercise classes in particular have been awesome for me. I can safely say I am addicted to barre classes – so much that I attend three every week! I also love the Jump & Pump and TBC classes. Tamica’s class had me a bit nervous in the beginning. Seeing how hard she worked the class intimidated me. However, I eventually bit the bullet and ended up loving it. The group exercise program here is truly awesome. The classes are challenging but allow me to go at my own pace. I got to a point where I was taking three classes on Saturdays on top of my regular weekly routine!
Would you recommend PEAC to other people?
Absolutely - I’ve been a member since 1997 for a reason! The community here has been more than supportive. Megan, the Group Exercise Coordinator, Kara, the Director of Operations, and Doug, the General Manager, have been my BIGGEST cheerleaders. They knew about my weight loss goals and would check up on me anytime I passed them in the gym. I can still remember the day I exceeded my 100 lb weight loss goal. It was September 22nd and everyone was so excited for me. One time I was even stopped in the parking lot by a member who recognized me from around the club just to tell me how great I looked. Talk about making someone’s day! Overall PEAC has been an incredible experience for me. The facility, employees, and community feel really make it unique. I also really admire PEAC’s involvement with the local community. Part of my job at Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce is to connect small businesses so that they can support each other locally. Needless to say I recognize that effort when I see it – and I see it at PEAC!
So what now?
It has now been ten months since I’ve started the New Direction meal plan and my new fitness routine here at PEAC. I have lost a total of 104 lbs and could not be happier. I highly recommend Dr. Chung at Capital Health and PEAC’s group exercise program to anybody who is struggling to see results!
We are incredibly proud of our strong Tai Chi community here at PEAC. There are so many benefits to this practice that are often overlooked. It can also be an intimidating class to try - but it doesn't have to be!
According to Jane E. Brody, a journalist for The New York Times, Tai Chi is described as:
See what one of our master Tai Chi instructors here at PEAC, Michael Wiley, has to say about it!
How were you introduced to Tai Chi?
Michael: I had always been intrigued when watching groups practice Tai Chi (before I knew what it was) in the early morning hours in downtown NYC as I began my work day. Having been raised by parents who practiced yoga most of their adult lives, I was aware of the importance of controlling your breath, balance, and slow stretching movements. Therefore, when I joined PEAC about ten years ago and met Eliza Hammer, I immediately became a student in her Tai Chi class. I realized the close connection between yoga & Tai Chi and continued in Eliza’s class until she left PEAC. At that point I joined the Tai Chi class that Terri Layton was starting up, and that led to several years and many hours of practicing Tai Chi with Terri.
What is your experience with Tai Chi?
Michael: In addition to my practice at PEAC, I began training at Shaolin Academy of Kung Fu (now Dao Concepts) where I earned my 1st Degree Black Sash in the art of Tai Chi Chuan. My weekly training there, as well as several workshops, has provided me with certifications in several Yang Style Tai Chi forms up to & including the 108 Step Traditional Yang Style - Complete Form. Certifications also include 18 & 32 Step Fan Form, and 32 Step Sword Form.
What is one thing about Tai Chi you think is important for people to know?
Michael: Tai Chi practice involves slow, purposeful movements, as you work on increasing your breathing capacity; results include improved body alignment, balance, and posture. In time you may even begin to experience increased confidence, composure, and contentment.
What might you say to somebody who is hesitant to try Tai Chi?
Michael: PEAC offers a class on Monday with Terri, and my three classes are on Friday. Come join one of our classes - no reason to hesitate - no experience necessary. We have the most welcoming Tai Chi community here at PEAC - just show up & the rest will fall into place.