Thursday, July 24, 2008

Drum yourself into shape?

Wii Fit, for the Nintendo Wii, recently hit store shelves, touting itself as a fun fitness product claiming
By playing Wii Fit a little every day, you, your friends, and your family can work towards personal goals of better health and fitness.
Perhaps the game Rock Band should take a similar tack in advertising.

A story at BBC News equates rock drummers to top athletes. These conclusions were reached by tests on Clem Burke, drummer for Blondie, who was hooked up to a heart monitor and other equipment during a performance. An hour in concert can burn up to 600 calories and tests on Burke showed his heart averaged 140-150 bpm, peaking at 190 (see this chart for Fox and Haskell's exercise zone formula). These rates, the article claims, are comparable to Premier League football (soccer) players.

I don't doubt that you can get a workout playing the drums - I've certainly broken a sweat hammering away at Rock Band (sorry, not a musician here) - but the BBC piece seems to go a bit far in it's comparison to top athletes:
"Footballers can normally expect to play 40 to 50 games a year - but in one 12 month period, Clem played 90-minute sets at 100 concerts.

"Footballer [sic] find playing a Champions League game once every two weeks a drain, but these guys are doing it every day when they are on tour.
This quote, combined with the previous comparison to professional football players, seems to imply that drumming is more physically demanding. Instead, I would read it as going against their thesis that "rock drummers are top athletes"; that is, drumming isn't nearly as strenuous as professional sports.

Enjoy your drumming, and feel good knowing that you're burning some calories, but if you're planning on leaving your pick-up soccer league to go pro there are probably better ways to get in shape.

Any thoughts from drummers out there?


Rob said...

The drum kit in the picture has a GONG! that's a pretty complete set. Not quite as good as tommy lee's set from '87 that rotates while it goes over the crowd. Now that looks like exercise.

Kate said...

It doesn't seem like either one takes into account practice time?

I don't know how much drummers practice, but soccer players are probably practicing a couple times a day, at least 6 days a week. (I'm not a soccer player, but did run competitively in college.)

Also, it seems wrong to compare the level of physical demands based on how often the athlete/musician performs. When musicians perform, they are judged on their music, and their physical ability is important only so much as it affects how well they play and perform.

Soccer players must be at peak physical ability every game, because their opponents will be and that's what they are judged on. Therefore, you aren't going to be able to perform physically at that high a level as frequently.

They may be burning as many calories or whatever, but it's not even a worthwhile comparison to be making.

Bayman said...

Soccer players are definitely superior to rock-stars.

Anonymous said...

i bought wii fit and wii rock band on the same day. you definitely break a sweat on the wii fit. as far as rock band goes, i am yet to break a sweat on the drums, although my brother blew the electrical fuse when he sang "roxanne" by police. true story.

Dannie said...

As a musician, I have a different perspective. At a point, I was practicing 3-6 hours every day with rehearsals that lasted 3+ hours at least 3 days a week. Now that is over 50 hours of continuous physical effort. Every musician is different, but professional musicians are not to be scoffed at when comparing their endurance to that of athletes.

On a personal note, just from playing the violin I developed massive biceps and could bench on par with the softball team...

I would have to conclude that if comparing a drummer to a soccer players is not a fair comparison, then each sport would also not be comparable.

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