Thrive: Exercising to a Different (and Fun) Beat

Initially skeptical, I found drumming to be one of the most fun, yet challenging, workouts I’ve ever had.



When information about the new drumming class at the Iceoplex at Southpointe’s Bodytech gym made its way into my inbox, my inclination was to hit “delete.”

This is because I am in no way, shape or form rhythmic. Drumming? Moving to the beat? While holding drum sticks? It immediately conjured up memories of my dear parents graciously indulging my childhood delusion of becoming a Broadway dancer even though I clearly possessed the rhythmic dexterity of a wooden post.   

These are the workouts I generally avoid like the plague.

“A lot of our classes take a lot longer to build up, but this one already has a following,” says Mandi Pryor, director of marketing and sponsorship.

“I’m not very coordinated,” I explain.

“We don’t judge!” she replies merrily.

It dawns on me that the least I could do for these people is to provide some comedic relief for week. So I sign a release and follow her downstairs.

Ten of us assemble in a bright, mirrored room in the depths of the Iceoplex, where two rows of bright yoga balls are perched atop orange Home Depot buckets.

“People don’t realize there’s a lot of cardio that goes along with drumming,” says my instructor, Melissa Frameli.

So, we’re going to sweat?

“Oh yeah,” she says with a smile.

We’re each given a pair of wooden drumsticks and station ourselves in front of a bucket/ball. Everyone is cheery, smiling, psyched. I apologize in advance to my neighbor if I end up impaling her with my stick. The music starts, a pulsating womp, tap, womp, tap, womp, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

“Hands above head!” Melissa calls out as we begin tapping to the beat. “Left then right!”

I feel my abs engage as I twist right, center, then left for about a dozen reps before we are tapping floor, bucket, ball and overhead again. Then jumping jacks: tapping ball, overhead, ball, overhead, ball, overhead, all timed to the music. Sway, sway, sway. Suddenly, I feel my hips unlocking — a physiological miracle.

Twenty minutes in and we’re all sweating. A lot. “Now squat!” Melissa continues, dropping close to the floor. “Lower!”

Someone asks how many squats we are going to be doing. “A lot of squats!” Melissa shouts.  

I catch my neighbor’s eye. “My butt is going to burn!” she says happily as we squat, squat, squat, tapping center, right, left, floor, overhead, squat, squat, squat. It strikes me as odd that she’s smiling. Until I realize, we’re all smiling.     

Verdict: Do it! The movements are easy to follow — nothing requiring an advanced degree in Danceology, and each movement is timed perfectly to the beat of classic rock and pop songs. It was one of the most fun, yet challenging, workouts I’ve ever had. 

Classes are held every Tuesday from noon to 12:45 p.m. Walk-ins are $5 per class or free with a gym membership. (114 Southpointe Blvd., Canonsburg; 724/745-6666)

Eat This Month

Shakeology continues to sweep the nation, racking up an average of 1.3 million Instagrammers proudly showing off their protein meal-replacement shakes. But is it as good as the real thing?
“I don't think we need meal replacements. We need people to eat meals,” says Mim Seidel, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of nutrition at Chatham University.

“I’m a big proponent of people eating whole foods as opposed to concoctions. You can take whole foods and make your own smoothie — no need to get a mix or anything special.”

For a hearty snack, she recommends:

  • 1 cup of plain, nonfat yogurt or skim milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of berries
  • 1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice.

Blend until smooth and add ice if desired. Total servings: 2. Nutrients per serving include 175 calories, 34 grams carbs and 8 grams protein. (1 cup of soy or almond milk can be substituted. With almond milk, total protein will be 2 grams).

“Shakes are something I like to eat to bulk up without getting fat,” says Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster. 


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