In an ongoing search for the latest and greatest workouts on social media, I came across an exercise called cardio drumming. This upbeat cardiovascular exercise involves hitting a pair of drumsticks against surfaces, the air or on an exercise ball to the rhythm of music. One woman, who goes by "Cardio Drumming Donna," has started a TikTok account for her cardio drumming classes in The Villages and now has more than 12,000 followers.
Cardio Drumming Donna—whose real name is Donna Yon—shares videos that show gatherings of people, roughly between the ages of 50 and 80, rocking out to songs like ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man," Jennifer Lopez's "Let's Get Loud," and The Village People's "YMCA."
It looked so fun.
I reached out to Yon and soon we were on the phone chatting about how she started this cardio drumming craze. She retired from the Navy in Jacksonville then moved to The Villages, a 55-plus community in Central Florida, with her husband, where she eagerly began looking for activities to join.
"I had a knee replacement three years ago and could no longer ride a bike, so I was looking for things to do that are low impact," she explains. "I went to our recreation center and a lady was running a class where people were hitting on medicine balls propped up by buckets. It looked like so much fun."
Yon began volunteering at the classes and then hosting her own in her driveway. During the pandemic, she taught Zoom classes for those who felt unsafe meeting in-person. Hundreds of people joined in. She also started a Facebook group to keep people up-to-date on class days and times.
"Some of my students are wheelchair-bound, but some who are still mobile get in up to 7,000 steps in one 40-minute class," Yon says. "The best thing is everyone is getting cardiovascular exercise, moving around and enjoying movement at their own pace."
In addition to raising your heart rate, cardio drumming helps improve balance, coordination and a sense of community with others. Yon says she saw the positive cognitive and physical effects it had on her students and wanted to share it with the world. She started a TikTok account, "Cardio Drumming Donna," and within two weeks began racking up followers. One of her videos has 9.2 million views.
"The whole family can join in, and it really makes you feel like a rockstar," she adds.
If you want to try cardio drumming, you'll need a 17-gallon bucket, large exercise ball and a pair of drumsticks. While there are not any cardio drumming groups in Sarasota yet, there are similar dance and drumming classes held in Sarasota and North Port (just sans the exercise ball). The nationwide fitness group POUND has two local instructors, Michelle Amos and Tina Melik, who teach this cardio workout at Crunch Fitness and the George Mullen Activity Center.
Amos has been teaching POUND classes since October 2015, and her instructor profile says the electric workout helps participants "march to the beat of your own drum." Her classes are held Thursdays at 10 a.m. at Crunch Fitness on Bee Ridge Road. Melik has also been teaching since 2015, and says POUND has helped her on her weight loss journey. Her classes are held Wednesdays at 6:45 p.m. at the George Mullen Activity Center in North Port.