PICTURED: Steve Shotton and Cathy Pettet
CATHY PETTET liked the idea of doing some sit-down exercise and signed up for one of STEVE SHOTTON’S Drum-A-Cise courses. Now, she says, she’s never felt better . . .
I WOULD like to tell All Together NOW! readers about Steve Shotton and Rhythm Reaction.
Steve left his job as Clinical Systems Trainer at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on Merseyside in 2016 to pursue his dream – using his skills and passion for drumming to improve the lives of less able members of society.
Having volunteered his services in spare time for several years, he decided to set up Rhythm Reaction (Community Interest Company) as an outlet for people to realise their potential, improve self-esteem, confidence, creativity and communication skills.
To quote from Steve’s own website “Rhythm Reaction encompasses the able-bodied, the disadvantaged, those with varying degrees of learning difficulties, low self-esteem, physical or mental health issues, those at risk, as well as people recovering from illness”.
I had the privilege of meeting Steve, who is from Halewood, Merseyside, in September 2017, when I signed up for a Drum-A-Cise class at the David Lloyd club in Knowsley.
It was advertised as a new way to exercise, sitting down, playing drums and having fun. Drum-A-Cise is an upper body aerobic cardio workout aimed at rebuilding muscle memory, developing dexterity, hand-eye co-ordination, motor/psychomotor skills etc and is therefore ideal for all ages and abilities including wheelchair users and people recovering from strokes.
As an able-bodied 55-year-old, who hadn’t exercised much in 30 years, I just thought it sounded like something I might enjoy – the idea of exercising while sitting down really appealed to me.
I had no expectations whatsoever. I didn’t know anything about Rhythm Reaction or the work that Steve did with various wellbeing groups and I had no idea about therapeutic drumming.
Drum-A-Cise is a totally unique way of exercising (using drum pads rather than actual drums so it’s not as noisy as you might think!). I absolutely loved it and I left the class on a real high every week.
After the first couple of sessions I realised that it had had the most incredible effect on my mental health – it was as if it had flicked a switch in my brain and I’ve never looked back.
I have since discovered that a lot of research has been done on the beneficial effects that drumming has on the brain.
A study by the Royal College of Music (March 2016). found that a 10-week programme of group drumming reduces depression by as much as 38% and anxiety by 20%.
I can honestly say that for me it has been completely life-changing – which is why at the end of 2018 I had no hesitation in nominating Steve for a Hidden Hero Award – an international award for people in the drumming community who are making a difference to people’s lives. We were thrilled when we heard that he had been chosen as one of only three people in the world to be awarded this accolade, the other two being American.
This award is so well deserved as Steve works tirelessly to make sure that his workshops are accessible to all.
He has endless patience and puts a lot of time and effort into adjusting the equipment to suit the needs of the individual thus ensuring that everyone can participate to the best of their ability, whatever their limitations.
Steve does fantastic work with many organisations, charities, social enterprises, schools and community groups.
He runs therapeutic workshops and various exercise classes for people with special needs, the elderly, those with dementia as well as stroke and cancer patients and people living with mental and/or physical health issues as well as people like me who just want to try something new and exciting.
Steve gets people with limited mobility active again and, most importantly, he brings fun back into people’s lives.
His passion and enthusiasm for drumming is contagious and everyone who meets him loves him. He has enriched the lives of so many people in the North West of England, including mine.
Rhythm Reaction are currently delivering a National Lottery Awards For All funded project called Drum-A-Cise Physical (Advanced – 4 pad session).
This is a research project looking at how people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing can be improved by playing multiple drum pads along to music and participating in drumming exercises and activities.
Long term, Steve hopes to make Drum-A-Cise Physical available to people who have physical and mental challenges in their lives and who would benefit from this unique form of exercise.
Facebook/rhythm reaction, Twitter @rhythmreactions Tel. 07814045918.