Everyone has heard it a million times. We all need to exercise. But for folks with PD it’s more than advice, it’s a form of treatment. After my diagnosis I knew I’d have to up my game. It was time to take a look at what I was doing and where
I had been going to a generic, retail type gym. Now, I was feeling a little self-conscious there. I knew my foot was dragging. Were people staring at me? It’s great to have a $10 a month for a gym membership, but not if you aren’t using it! I wasn’t meeting anyone or engaging. There was no one pushing me. You may be a fortunate soul who wakes up ready to push every extra ounce of sweat out. But for many people (me!) that requires some external motivation. And I found it in Brian.
He’s the owner/ trainer at On Track Fitness in Glenside. He’s General Patton and Oprah sprinkled with some Rocky Balboa in for good measure. Brian is a tough trainer with a great heart who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. He’s a funny guy. No caked in dirt sneakers in his gym! And bring your own towel. He’s not messing around but for some reason his energy clicks with mine and that leadership helps to motivate me to keep moving and training. Maybe I needed fear to get my ass in gear but whatever it is, it’s working. Someone else might need a gentler approach and I understand that too.
I started there almost three years ago, and I am actually physically stronger than I was then. When I started I couldn’t run forward so I would sashay side to side in his class. Now, I am able to run forward, but it took a long time, months of training. It wasn’t fast. Sometimes I think in this culture we want results quickly or we throw up our hands; it’s the era of Amazon Prime. Deliver it the next day. But we have to be long term thinkers and doers. This is truly a marathon. And it is easier when you find the people that help light that fire within you and stick with you.
One of the reasons I decided to serve on the board of The Parkinson’s Council is that want to help provide movement opportunities to PD people that want to participate. The Council subsidizes boxing, yoga and dance classes to anyone who wants to participate very affordably. While I have found my exercise Yoda in my neighborhood, it’s important to me that engaging, affordable and effective movement opportunities are available to all PD families in the region. That’s part of our mission. You can always look https://theparkinsoncouncil.org/person-with-parkinsons/for more information.
While my movement was improving with regular training, more cognitive challenges appeared. It started to become more apparent that I would not be able to sustain my job as an occupational health nurse. I’d be in a meeting and forget what I said a few minutes before. Talk about confidence killer! I had always demonstrated a polished, succinct communication style and now I was searching for words. Plus, walking around a sprawling pharmaceutical campus was hard on my body. I was not in wheelchair, so colleagues didn’t always understand why it was difficult for me to walk from one side of the property to the other. And how do you explain to someone that your hand just isn’t working today? It worked fine yesterday, but not today.
It was time to retire and start the next chapter.
Next blog: My experience with medical marijuana for PD