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Drumming up community: How residents stay fit together during the pandemic

Amy Weiss | Oct 27, 2020

Every Wednesday at Walker Methodist Plaza in downtown Anoka, ten residents meet team members—Cindy and Joselyn, Madeline, or Paige—in the Monroe Room. Wearing masks and keeping socially distant, residents grab their drumsticks, take a seat on a chair or stand, and begin to drum on a stability ball.

These residents are part of Plaza’s DrumFIT class, an energizing and engaging workout to music. The exercise is a great cardiovascular workout, but it’s also a lot of fun. “It relieves the tension. It’s a nice past time,” commented Jarko, a resident at Plaza. “I even cardio drum on my own time.”

In the spring of 2020, just as the coronavirus began to change many things at our communities, Plaza was awarded a grant by Anoka County’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). This grant provided funding for four team members to receive training to become certified DrumFIT facilitators, as well as money to purchase equipment like drumsticks and stability balls. To become certified, the team choreographed and recorded a 30-minute drumming routine. They even made another playlist with songs appropriate for memory care residents and a track list for quick workouts.

“I just had a gut feeling it would be something our residents would love,” said Cindy Jacobson, life enrichment director. “I am so grateful for this grant. These past five months have been challenging for our residents, so having the opportunity to bring them something new, fun, and exciting is priceless.”

Cindy was right: residents love cardio drumming. When the team started offering classes in the summer, they soon discovered a unique problem: classes were reaching maximum capacity every session. Group exercises have proven benefits, so it makes sense DrumFIT is Plaza’s most popular activity. To meet the positive response from residents, the team started offering more and more classes. Now two classes are offered every Tuesday and Thursday for independent and assisted living residents, and two more classes are held each Wednesday and Thursday for memory care residents. Since beginning of August, weeks, more than 120 residents have participated in DrumFIT classes. Cindy and her team are even planning to make new playlists since the residents are mastering the current routines. Thanks to the team’s enthusiasm and dedication, classes are offered to residents in independent living, assisted living, and memory care.

Resident Nancy enjoys the class so much that she even bought a practice drum pad for her husband to use in their home. “I enjoy this class, but it’s been even more beneficial for my husband, who has dementia,” she shared. “It’s a full-body exercise without being too strenuous. I like that the class if for men and women of all abilities.”

See the drum instructors in action!