Ask yourself what could a sales rep, a contractor, housewife, a musician, a rancher, an attorney, and a coach possibly have in common? What circumstances would bring such an unlikely group with their diverse occupations, interests and values together in the same arena? We are Southwest Parkinson’s Fitness. It is Parkinson’s disease (PD) that has brought us together. We have made the decision not to lie down for this disease, but to fight back. And it is in the knowing that we can’t do it alone that keeps us together. When we lock arms and put up a unified front, our differences fade and we become warriors. The enemy…Parkinson’s disease.
Depletion of available dopamine from specific areas of the brain is the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Clinical trials and observational studies lend support to the premise that forced intensity exercise and novel physical activities give rise to a
cascade of events that help sustain the dopaminergic system…the very system that has been damaged by PD. The restoration of a measure of dopaminergic activity has the potential to slow symptom progression and even restore some of the function that’s been lost to PD. Much of the research has
focused on the exercise-induced release of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) as the engine that drives the return of some lost functions at the cellular level. BDNF has been implicated in the upregulation of dopaminergic neuron protection and restoration, as well as promoting
There is no question that everyone can benefit in some way from moderate exercise. However, in terms of being a combatant against PD, exercise in moderation is only slightly better than no exercise at all. At Southwest Parkinson’s Fitness (SWPDFit) we emphasize those modalities that have demonstrated that they are effective weapons in the battle against this chronic, progressive disease.
SWPDFit caters to different levels of participant abilities in a fun, safe and supportive atmosphere. Our goal is to make the world around us a safer, more hospitable, and welcoming place for people with PD.
We are willing to fight to keep our place at the Thanksgiving table, see our grandchildren graduate, and remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.
An ESPN sponsored study of sixty sports covering ten fitness domains identified boxing as the sport that demands the most from its athletes. There is no denying that a non-combat boxing workout would provide the requisite intensity to stimulate those events in the brain that can potentially slow symptom progression and over time restore some of the function lost to PD. (See our Blog for three titles: Why We Box, Why We Box II, and Why We Box III).
The centerpiece of Southwest Parkinson’s Fitness is a non-combat boxing workout not entirely unlike “boxercising.” SWPDFit is an affiliate of Rock Steady Boxing™, headquartered in Indianapolis. Rock Steady is a one-of-a-kind program developed exclusively for people with PD. Consistent, dedicated participation in this program has the potential to slow symptom progression, enhance walking ability, improve flexibility, strength and balance, and improve overall quality of life for people with PD. SWPDFit has Rock Steady certified coaches ready to help you fight back.
Regardless of your ability starting out, your most worthy challenger is your own best self. If you need personal assistance, we have capable, caring volunteers from the Southern Utah University Utah Health Scholars program.
Rock Steady Boxing meets for 80-90 minutes five days a week with participants attending the sessions best suited for their abilities and needs.
As time passes, people with PD find that their movements become tentative and abbreviated. This is most noticeable in actions involving reaching, stepping, leaning and twisting. While these movements are certainly not missing from a Rock Steady
Boxing workout, LSVT BIG, and yoga use a different platform. The LSVT program evokes a response from the brain primarily through novel (unfamiliar, atypical) movements to improve balance and flexibility. LSVT BIG is a set of exaggerated movements in a moderately rapid cadence aimed at guiding the person with PD back toward normalcy. The goals of yoga are not particularly different from LSVT for building flexibility, strength, and balance. However, the cadence of yoga is slow, deliberate, and flowing in keeping with the meditative quality embedded in the practice. Yoga and
LSVT are currently offered one day a week with an expectation that participants will devote some practice time in-between class sessions. LSVT BIG is offered under the guidance of a licensed physical therapist who also holds certification in LSVT. The current yoga instructor is the proprietor of a nearby yoga studio. She holds a yoga certification with an emphasis on adaptive yoga.
SWPDFit maintains close contact with an LSVT LOUD certified and licensed speech and language pathologist who is LSVT LOUD certified.
Parkinson’s disease is progressive. Save for a miracle or a mystery, such as spontaneous recovery, If you have not been feeling well and you attribute it to Parkinson’s, as aptly put by the founder of Rock Steady Boxing “today may be the best you will feel for
the rest of your life.” In spite of the money invested, new pharmaceuticals and biologicals, better ways of administering drugs, and availability of deep brain stimulation, the past 60 years have yet to
produce a cure for PD or a medication that can slow its progression. It’s not that some of the best minds in biomedicine haven’t devoted whole careers to bringing this disease down. The things that are known about PD today that weren’t known in the 1960”s could fill volumes. Unfortunately, one of those things that have become abundantly clear is the fact that PD is infinitely more complex than thought six decades ago. Still, there’s hope.
It has already been stated that a growing body of evidence from the clinic, the laboratory, and the field support the premise that forced intensity exercise can slow the progression of PD symptoms and likely slow the disease itself. The evidence also indicates that the exercise must be continued on a regular basis, it needs to be rigorous, and the earlier you start after the diagnosis the better the chance for a
We have pledged to use only those modalities that have been held up against the rigors of scientific inquiry and the scrutiny of unbiased investigators.
On occasion, we will happen upon a new piece of equipment, technology, or methodology that appears
so consistent with our approach to PD fitness, that we will include it on a trial basis. In this way, we are acting as pilot study investigators. An example of this is our use of the Fitlight Trainer.™ Information from our first report has been shared with other Parkinson’s fitness programs in this
country. In addition, a Parkinson’s rehabilitation facility in Holland has been provided information about our experience with the Fitlights™ This trainer is now a regular part of the SWPDFit program.
It is no secret that people will work out harder at the gym than they do at home.
Home has its distractions and very few of us are equipped to shut those distractions out in favor of engaging in exercise. That said, the abandonment of gym memberships is also quite high. Most people are not quite to the point yet to consider exercise as an essential part of everyday living, so the gym
membership is one of the first things sacrificed when other things at home, at work, church, or community service activities send us looking for extra time in our day.
When this revolving door attitude about working out comes from people with Parkinson’s disease, it
carries with it a cost. For as long as forced intensity exercise remains the leading way to slow disease progression, it will have to be a lifelong commitment. At SWPDFit we are a little “old school.” Our main workout area, while not elaborate is spacious enough for 10 plus or minus participants around four assistants (volunteers) and a coach, or some combination generally not to exceed 16 people per session. We have little use for mirrored walls, tanning beds, a juice bar, and flashy equipment. If this is
your thinking on the ideal setting to offer a Parkinson’s fitness program, prepare yourself for disappointment. Southwest Parkinson’s Fitness uses Rock Steady™ certified coaches and offers workouts for different levels of ability. As an affiliate of Rock Steady and Southern Utah University
Utah Health Scholars program gives us access to a large up-to-date database and a large group of capable, dedicated volunteers to assist participants. Oh yes, and there’s one more thing…we have
Just when PD thought it had you singled out and isolated, marked for slow melting away of your physical, physiological, and psychological being, there was a voice,“ well what will it be, are we going to stand up and fight this thing together, or not?” At SWPDFit we’ve got each other’s backs.”
Often understated, Southwest Parkinson’s Fitness has one more weapon in its arsenal against PD. That weapon is the power of community. On the gym wall, there’s a sign that reads “You’ll Never Know Your Limits Until You Push Yourself to Them” While this seems a simple Task, defying your limits
is the bounty that has been placed on success in Parkinson’s fitness programs. Parkinson’s disease doesn’t respect moderation, nor does it fear moderation. What PD fears are a room full of warriors and the deep “thud” that accompanies the pounding of heavy bags, the rhythmic slapping of the speed bags, and the loud groan from a warrior as he manages the near impossible ... he lifts his exhausted
right arm, his gloved right fist in one final assault on the 130 lb. punching bag. Everyone of waits to hear the loud rapport of leather on leather “WHAM.” A breakout moment. From where did he draw
that extra modicum of strength, only moments ago standing there the picture of a person on the cusp of exhaustion, with his gloved hands on his knees, his head down, sweat dripping off the tip of his nose?
Then, one look at the faces of others in the gym and you know that it has been the collective energy of that band of warriors, shouting words of encouragement that ushered him to inch past his own limit.
The fight back bell chimed and this group of strangers is were transformed into a community of warriors poised to face a common enemy. Poised to face Parkinson’s … together.
Although It is a fact that nothing does for people with PD exactly what forced
intensity exercise and novel movement do, that’s not where the story ends. Ask someone with PD they’ll likely say something along the lines of managing Parkinson’s for the best possible outcome is
somewhat akin to the arcade game Whack a Mole. Just as you seem to be getting one thing under control, something else pops up. The moment someone joins SWPDFit, they also become a member of Southwest Parkinson’s Alliance (support group). Of course, anyone with an interest in PD can join the support group. The group handles one of the most valuable commodities for someone dealing with PD…information. By description, it is implied that a support group should be the first point of contact
for someone seeking specific information, such as the names of neurologists in the area. For those who simply want to stay informed and up-to-date about things relevant to PD, there are monthly
meetings of the support group. Guest speakers present on a regular basis and there are periodic care and share meetings where regular members discuss items of interest to those with PD.
Although there are a few “cardinal” symptoms shared by most people with Parkinson’s, dopamine is a master neurochemical mediating a myriad of physical, physiological, and psychological
functions, all under the shroud of Parkinson’s disease. Those who awakened this morning to face yet another day of PD will be joined this year by nearly 60,000 who will be diagnosed with PD over the
course of the next 12 months, bringing the total number of Americans stricken with this neurodegenerative malady to just under 1 million people. We have come to gaze upon a cure as we would a mirage, a fading vision retreating out of our reach. John Wayne once said, “Courage is being
scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” For those of us who have known years, even decades, of battle, frustration and loss, and, of course, the occasional victory, our courage is on display.
A neurologist was once heard to say, “Well, if you must have a neurological disease, Parkinson’s should be high on your list of choices.” He made it clear that he was not saying that PD is any less serious than the other neurological diseases. And he wasn’t saying that the level of disability is any less, or that the outcomes are any different. What he was saying is that, of all the neurological diseases, Parkinson’s is the only one where it is possible for you to alter the course of the disease, slow the progression of symptoms and possibly even modify its outcome. Let Southwest Parkinson’s Fitness show you how. The choice is yours. Why wait?
This website is for information purposes only. It does not constitute a medical diagnosis, therapy, or treatment plan. Methods and outcomes mentioned on this website are exclusive to people with confirmed Parkinson’s disease and could, in fact, be harmful to someone with another neurological disease or injury.