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.
We love to connect with local artists here at PEAC. Each month we dedicate our display walls to different local artists, giving them a place to showcase their talent and even offer some pieces for sale. This month we were lucky enough to have Mark Fenton of Handmade Art Studios share his art with us.
Mark Fenton is a co-owner of Handmade Art Studios in Bordentown, New Jersey. He began his life as an artist by learning woodworking from his dad before studying art at Ewing High School , where he tried all sorts of media. He then went on to study graphic design at Antonelli Institute in Philadelphia. However, his grueling day job soon took over. He decided to cut his studies short and began working at his day job full-time. Feeling frustrated and trapped being an auto-mechanic, he eventually took a different route. Mark began focusing his time on yoga, meditation, photography and woodworking. His passion for photography soon transitioned into a full-time career.
Although Mark's photographs did not click with the art-buying public at craft shows, a few samples of his wooden wall art were eagerly purchased. For Mark, art is not a soliloquy to be launched into the void; it's something to share with other human beings. So his path was chosen for him.
Out of the pressure-cooker since 2012, Mark works in a two-story backyard studio, where his two young sons come and go. Upstairs, surrounded by ad art, books, and old bits of machinery that please and inspire him, he creates his designs. Downstairs, he implements those designs with his band saw, planers, jig saw, belt sander, drill press, computer-guided router and a variety of hand tools – including paint brushes. He also has anvils and forges for metal work.
Recently Mark has joined forces with artists Heather Brainard of Hamilton and Laura Pointon of Flemington to form Hand Made Studios and Artisan Markets. They host shows on both sides of the Delaware to showcase their own art as well as those of carefully screened artists and artisans.
With ongoing experience in the therapeutic benefits of making art, Mark chairs "Bordentown Residents Against Drugs". He works with the substance-abuse counselor at a local high school, helping students “get things out visually.” Whether the feelings are positive or negative, whether the resulting artwork is to be shared or kept private, Mark is glad to be “teaching another coping skill to deal with life.”
Back in the studio, he is happiest working at his own speed and taking himself in new directions, then seeing whether his latest work will stop traffic at a show. “If I have an idea, I give it a go. Experiments often produce happy accidents. There's no such thing as failure; it's another kind of discovery.”
Reclaimed materials is another medium Mark loves to experiment with. The recycling is in harmony with the family's lifestyle, which includes roof-top solar panels and enough home-grown vegetables to last through the winter.
A Brief Interview
How would you describe your art style?
I really like my art to connect with people on an emotional level - anything that evokes an emotional response or helps people on a spiritual level. I also create with my friend Heather and Morgan. Morgan helped with many of the signs in the PEAC displays.
What is your art background?
I took art and design classes in high school and I did some college, but I am mostly self-taught.
What is Handmade Art Studios?
Handmade Art Studios is my team of artisans. We love to create together and promote one another. We do shows around the tri-state area showing and selling our work.
How do you make these unique pieces? What inspires you?
I am a CNC Artist. I design my creations on paper, iPad, or computer and then program my machines to do the carving. My inspiration comes from my boys, parents, my wife, friends and customers. Some of my best pieces were inspired from conversations I have had with others.
DEFYING THE ODDS
Meet Jamie Gottschall, a PEAC athlete-member and private training client, of Andy Halko (PEAC Master Trainer). If you are a morning regular at PEAC you probably know Jamie by now, as her energy, enthusiasm and willingness to engage in conversation is no secret. Jamie’s story though has much more to it than meets the eye and we are eager to share her story of both inspiration and aspiration.
Years later, when Jamie moved to Princeton and attended Princeton high school, she had the opportunity to join a learn to row program. On that very lake in place of “gym” class the opportunity to row finally knocked at her door. As much as she dreamed of taking a stab at it, she knew the reality of asking her mother to get her to the boathouse by 5:30 am each morning was a long shot. With that said, she continued to hold onto her dream until she could master it.
Jamie has always had the need for speed and power, whether on the high school field hockey team as a left wing, on a horse jumping (English hunt seat) or as an official Runners World Sneaker Tester. That need for speed and explosive power translated into racquet speed, where she packed a punch on the tennis courts and swept multiple mixed doubles club championships while living and raising a family in Pennsylvania. Jamie was also on a her club tennis team and more recently, played for the Buxmont League.
While running early mornings and on the tennis courts six mornings a week (as her 2 boys were either in school, or on the courts themselves), Jamie was roped into golf with her girlfriends in a 9-hole ladies league. Jamie never envisioned the slow speed of golf in her life, that is until she took a crack at it. Within a matter of a week, Jamie won the longest drive for her average 220+ yard (660 ft) drive as well as, “closest to the pin,” launching her from the 9 hole league and driving her straight into into the 18 hole league. Jamie stuck-around for at least two seasons of competitive tournaments. After the second season she decided it was not a priority, due to the amount of time and dedication golf required while balancing family-life with her running and tennis schedule.
Jamie’s greatest passion has always been dance, Latin her spicy favorite and with that said, she ended up with a Zumba certification.
ON THE MOVE
After living in PA for 13 years and their eldest son attending the world renowned American Boychoir (boarding) School in Princeton New Jersey, the Gottschalls decided to relocate next-door to Jamie’s hometown of Princeton, in effort to be close to their son David and shorten Derek’s daily commute to NYC. Once the decision was set in stone, Jamie hopped on the computer and Googled away, “Learn to row in Princeton” and there it was, the opportunity she had been waiting for since the age of ten.
When the Gottschalls finally settled into their new home two years ago Jamie was officially signed up for the Learn to Row program with Carnegie Lake Rowing Association. There was a mandatory swim and float test, which Jamie was required to pass in order to be a participant with CLRA. Once Jamie stepped foot into the Princeton University’s state of the art Boathouse, there was no looking back. “Some people would call this a bucket list checked, but for me, well, I call it my destiny."
Jamie learned very quickly that rowing competitively required a serious commitment of regimen from; rising early, building strength (both mentally and physically) and maintaining an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. For those choosing to row competitively rather than recreationally, Jamie tells us “this is a sport not for the light-hearted, but for the lion-hearted and I knew my heart was in the right place.”
According to Jamie, “Rowing truly is the ultimate commitment. It’s for the early birds who plan to catch the worm.” Her alarm is set for 4:10 am Monday through Friday and she leaves when it is still pitch dark outside and she is the only car on the road for miles. Her commute to the Princeton Boathouse is 9 minutes and their boats are on the water by 5:30 am sharp. She wears a headlamp to navigate across the Washington Street bridge on foot each morning and to set her oar, adjust her spacers an her footplate. Every practice is an hour and a half full body workout. “Rowers are basically doing squats, sit ups, arm rows (biceps, triceps, lats), hamstring curls and calf raises all in one seating, there is no better workout in my opinion.”
“The strongest most sought after rowers are typically the tallest and we are talking over 6’. Rowing is all about leverage; the taller the rower, the more water they can catch, or in rowing terms they naturally “stay long.” More body also equals more muscle and long legs, means a stronger, longer leg drive. Rowing is a deceptive sport if you are not familiar with it.
Most people think it is an arm sport, when in fact it is considered a leg sport! “Rowing is 70/20/10, 70% leg drive, 20% core and back and and 10% arms.” Jamie standing around 5’ 7” had to make up for her lack of extra length with power. Competitive rowers spend quality time in the gym doing heavy lifting and primarily for the legs. On that note, Jamie knew exactly what she needed to do if she wanted to earn a seat in an A-boat, or for that matter any competitive boat going to any of the biggest events known to the rowing community.
The first task was to lower her erg “splits” (on the rowing machine) and the way to accomplish it was by significantly powering up her workout. What she understood already from years of high performance athletic training and as a competitive athlete most of her life, was that she had to hit the gym harder than ever before. Jamie knew the journey she was about to embark on would need to be vigorous and one she could not “go it alone.”
SHE’S GOT LEGS
It was then that Jamie looked into reintroducing personal training back into to her fitness repertoire, but for Jamie to be an ultimate success, she knew she had to find the best. She had been there before with every sport she was involved in and always found the top trainers or pros to take her to the top. So the best to Jamie meant someone who truly understood heavy powerful lifting. Her mission was to find someone who personally had it on their resume and with plenty of notches in their belt. That is when she discovered PEAC’S Master Trainer, Andy Halko’s impressive resume. Jamie was sold the minute she saw that Andy was a former Penn State All-American powerlifter, who placed 3rd and 5th at Nationals and prior to that had broken several PA junior state records. That was enough for Jamie to know just who would drive her straight to the top physically, someone that had been there themselves personally. To Jamie, heavy lifting is something that should not be done unsupervised, that first it was a matter of her safety and two that she wanted that drill Sargent ensuring that she was “emptying the tank.”
Upon Jamie’s first meeting with Andy, she immediately told him she expected him to “put the hammer down on her and that rowing competitively was her ultimate goal.” She explained to Andy that rowing requires “explosive leg Drive” and that she expected strong results, yet still maintaining her feminine physique.” Fortunately for Jamie, Andy had already conditioned a male German National Team rower and with that said, it “sealed the deal” for Andy to train Jamie. So what does Andy have to say about Jamie’s progress?
“Jamie came to me in her preseason as a second year rower, looking to secure a seat in a competitive boat. She wasn’t afraid to hit the gym hard and lift heavy. We train using Olympic lifts and power lifts, specifically to improve her maximal strength and power output; to improve her splits. In a short period of time her lifts have increased by as much as 250%; which includes repping squats with one and a half times body weight. A fortuitous side effect of the heavy lifting has been a dramatic improvement in body composition. Jamie’s body fat has melted as her power cleans and squat weight rises.”
“Easily accomplishing her goals during the summer season, she set her sights higher and stepped up her training in hopes of making the world team roster for her club. Training hard even through injuries, we were psyched to learn she made 3 world team boats!”
“A few take aways that I will use to motivate future clients: heavy lifting is most efficient at increasing metabolism and reducing body fat, Jamie is a great example.”
Jamie works privately with Andy two one-hour sessions per week, typically on Tuesday and Thursday primarily in the heavy-weight room beside the indoor track.
SPRING INTO SHAPE
Now an official member of U.S. Rowing, Jamie rowed the entire spring sprint season (1,000 meter sprints) in competive boats and made her debut as stroke in the women’s four, delivering her very “first on the water” victory at the Diamond States Master’s Regatta. “As stroke seat, it was/is my job to set the stroke rate and the rhythm of the boat while leading the team to a win.” She had an amazing season of both trial and error with an elite level of rowers, but what she describes as, “all part of the process, you have to trust the process, not fear it. You make your mistakes, learn from them and look forward, never back” and that is just what Jamie did. Jamie’s belief has always been, “if you dream it, you will do it, it is just a matter of conviction that you can and that the only one or anything that can stop you is yourself. Once you have mastered the conscious mind, you can master anything. When you can tune out the noise of others, you can tune into yourself and accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
Approximately one month ago, it was announced that CLRA would be sending their strongest athletes to the Master’s World Rowing Championships in Sarasota Florida, the organizations largest international event. It is there that coaches from all over the world put their best boats together in effort to bring home a World Championship title. There is one hurdle though for anyone attempting to take a stab at making it to worlds. Everyone considering making the cut was required to take a 1000 meter erg sprint test, as well as on-the-water observation. OTW observation includes seat racing, where rowers literally swap boat seats in the middle of the lake, while climbing over each other. The women swap seats in effort to see who will make the fastest pairs.
Interestingly, when it rains, it pours for Jamie. A current PEAC member named Harry, whose daughter works for the marketing division of BOATHOUSE (an exclusive line of “elite performance outerwear” for rowers) contacted his daughter. Aware that BOATHOUSE was in search of athletes that would best represent the line, Harry told her he thought he had discovered the “perfect fit” for her at PEAC. On that note, Harry connected Jamie with his daughter Emma and well, Jamie is now an Official Brand Ambassador for Boathouse. In addition, Jamie was asked to join the BOATHOUSE team at Vesper Boat Club this Saturday, on Philly’s Famous Boathouse Row, as a model for their next big advertising photo shoot.
DEFYING THE ODDS
Jamie will be racing three out of four of the days in Sarasota Florida, September 26 through the 30th. The fourth day is reserved for composite boats made up of mixed teams of gender and different clubs. Her ticket is booked and she’s going there with her game face on. The Laker’s still have some intense on-the-water training left to face. Until then and Jamie and Andy will be pounding the pavement; strengthening and conditioning, up until her flight departs Philadelphia. “I could not have asked for a better experience than the one I am receiving at PEAC under Andy’s supervision.” “I truly feel blessed to be guided by someone who knows what it takes to win,” and in his final words to Jamie a few weeks ago after she shared the news with him that she made the cut for worlds, “Your livin’ the dream.”