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Students work out by whacking away with drumsticks

‘Cardio drumming’ doubles as music and PE exercise

Jordan Klekotka kept a solid tempo as a funky song blasted from speakers inside the West Oakview gymnasium.

Interpreter Prairie ‘Ms. C’ Carlstrom helps explain cardio drumming to K’Juan Barner

He bobbed his head, stomped his feet, made his best rock-and-roll face and, repeatedly, swiftly and forcefully raised a pair of drumsticks and brought them down on a large inflated ball in front of him. At the chorus, Jordan and his first-grade classmates followed a video projected onto the wall and walk-danced a circle around their balls, which were wedged into plastic laundry baskets.

Just a few minutes before, kindergartner Layla Jones wielded the same pair of drumsticks to a different song, one that gave her and others in her class the chance to whale on the neon-green “skins,” march in time to another beat and manage a shimmy or three in between.

And just like that, students had mastered cardio drumming.

Kindergartner Kamdyne Gibson is ready to hit some sticks

Making Exercise Fun

This is the first year gym teacher Jordan Wallin has done the cardio drumming unit at West Oakview.

Last year, thanks to a grant from the Northview Education Foundation to Wallin and music teacher Lou Sinigos, the program was introduced to grades K-4 at East Oakview. Wallin and Sinigos also hosted a drumming club that met twice a week to work on a special presentation for the third- and fourth-grade winter concert.

Wallin said the bouncy-ball drums make their appearance in classes once or twice each semester for a week at a time.

Gym teacher Jordan Wallin explains how cardio drumming works

“My goal for every class is to make exercise fun for the students, and the drums definitely accomplish that goal,” he said. “Besides just being great fun, the drumming helps students practice skills like rhythm, coordination, balance and endurance.”

He often hears from adults who wish they could have done dance drumming instead of kickball and dodgeball.

“I want to be part of the new school of physical education that provides students a chance to explore more than just the basic team sports,” Wallin added. “Team sports will always be popular, but my hope is that I can show my students that there are other ways to stay healthy and active across their lifetime.”

Related Article: Funky Friday drumline gets students moving & learning

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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