Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 21, 2013

Program combines rhythm, exercise

By Nicole Dominique Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — An introductory class combining rhythm and exercise got a group of senior gals marching to the beat of their own drums Wednesday afternoon.

The Effingham County Committee on Aging (ECCOA) introduced a new class Wednesday called Drums Alive-Silver Beats. The class, instructed by Kelly Willenborg, uses fitness balls on top of outdoor tubs as drums the participants beat to classic oldies songs.

"The power of music is what got me into this," Willenborg said as she explained the premises of the class. "The goal is not just physical fitness, it's also brain fitness."

Willenborg said in cases of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, musical ability is one of the last faculties a person loses because it uses so many different parts of the brain.

The group followed the instructor's routine through songs by the Beatles, Elvis Presley and the Bee Gees, hitting all around their drum and incorporating side stretches and arm exercises.

Willenborg encouraged participants to express themselves and be creative if they found they weren't keeping up with the routine.

"Part of this class is self-expression," she said.

The introductory class was free to senior citizens. The next eight weeks in the session, held on Wednesdays at 1 p.m., will be $3 a class or $23 paid in full, with a maximum of 10 participants per class.

Willenborg hopes the class will attract more.

"I hope the group that showed up today will stick with it," she said. "It's a new class, we'll see how it goes."

The Drums Alive-Silver Beats class is one of a few new options for local seniors. Cindy Hardiek, fiscal manager, says the ECCOA is trying out some new things to keep the older generation active and involved.

"We're trying to bring things to the seniors to keep them more active, more educated and more involved and in control of their future," she said. "This keeps them more healthy and more fit."

New activities include the drumming class, Chair Exercises with Jake and Breakfast in a Briefcase.

The ECCOA also tries to bring in speakers who will cover topics the community is interested in and will draw interaction.

"We're doing some things to increase foot traffic here, and that will be educational and fun," Hardiek said.

Nicole Dominique can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or at nicole.dominique@effinghamdailynews.com.