January News: YMCA Waives Joining Fees, New Evening Boxing Class & More!

As the scientific evidence mounts that vigorous and varied exercise improves the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease and may even slow disease progression, there’s no time like the New Year to resolve to start (or add to) your exercise routine. The PD Gladiators Metro Atlanta Fitness Network is an affiliation of independent fitness instructors trained to adapt their programs to provide safe, fun and effective group exercise classes for people with PD and their care partners. The Network offers over 40 classes throughout the metro area for people at all levels of ability and disability. Consult your doctor or physical therapist to find the right program for you!

YMCA Parkinson's Exercise Classes AtlantaYMCA of Metro Atlanta Parkinson’s Movement and Adapted Tango Classes – Standard Joining Fees Waived in January

The YMCA of Metro Atlanta has teamed up with PD Gladiators to offer a package of PD-specific exercise classes and support that will help people with Parkinson’s design a personal exercise program. Most YMCA branches are offering Parkinson’s Movement and Adapted Tango Classes, as well as the Y’s proprietary exercise adherence program, THE COACH APPROACH®, free to all YMCA members. These classes are designed for individuals at all stages of PD wanting to work on cardiovascular fitness, balance, strength and flexibility as well as particular PD impairments. Movements can be done in a chair as well as standing and at an intensity level that is self-selected by each participant. CLICK HERE to learn about participating YMCA locations and to receive a reduced membership rate. Standard joining fees are waived for new members joining in January (save up to $99)! The YMCA also has financial assistance available for those needing assistance.  Look for more YMCA branches to join the PD Gladiators at the Y program later this year.

PDG LDBF Boxing Flyer Logo with PhotosNew Tuesday Evening Class for PD Gladiators-LDBF Boxing Training for PD

The PD GLADIATORS Boxing Training for Parkinson’s Disease program is operated by Livramento Delgado Boxing Foundation, a non-profit organization, at Delgado Boxing, a gym in Sandy Springs run by three-time international champion Paul Delgado. Paul was trained at Rock Steady Boxing, the Parkinson’s program featured on CBS News Sunday Morning in November. The program is a typical non-contact boxing training workout that provides intense exercise along with the intentional mind-body, goal-oriented coordination that may help slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. In each class, participants will stretch and warm up, perform calisthenics and receive instruction in boxing training techniques using focus mitts, heavy bags, speed bags, and double-ended bags.

LDBF offers two programs for people with PD, an intense workout (PDG-LDBF I/II) designed for those with minimal disability and a seated/supported class (PDG-LDBF III/IV) for those whose PD symptoms require a slower pace or more assistance. The PDG-LDBF I/II class meets on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at noon and a new class will meet on Tuesday evenings at 6:30pm beginning January 12th. The PDG-LDBF III/IV class meets on Monday and Saturday at 1:30pm.

Aline Wolfe Senior Center in Smyrna Joins the PD Gladiators Metro Atlanta Fitness Network

The PD Gladiators Network offers a variety of other popular classes adapted for people with PD throughout the Atlanta metro area, including Ageless Grace®, Dance for Parkinson’s, General Fitness, Tai Chi, Yoga and Zumba Gold®. Our newest member of the Network is the Aline Wolfe Senior Center in Smyrna, which offers a General Fitness for Parkinson’s class at 1:15pm on Tuesdays (for Cobb County residents only). Instructor Laura Hughes incorporates various exercises using bands, balls, and light hand weights.  This class is designed for sitting or standing and will challenge all levels of fitness with fun aerobic, coordination/balance, strengthening, and stretching exercises in an effort to improve PWPD’s functional capacities and sense of well-being.  It incorporates music, but participants will not be asked to learn choreographed moves, so there’s no learning curve. Check it out!

How Can You Find PD-Specific Classes Closer To You?

With over 40 classes in the metro Atlanta area, the PD Gladiators network is one of the largest–if not the largest–programs of its kind in the country. Yet the most common question we receive is why aren’t there classes closer to me? At the risk of oversimplifying a complex answer, here are a few things you can do to get classes near you:

1. Help us fill the existing classes! You may have to travel a little more than you want to for a while or pay a modest amount for a class similar to one you can get for free through a Silver Sneakers program or the like, but we can’t convince fitness instructors to invest their money in specialized training or their time in a new class unless we can prove the demand is there. Nothing proves demand like full classes in neighboring areas. We’re believers that most exercise is good for people with PD, but we are convinced that group exercise programs adapted specifically for people with PD offer some benefits many people overlook and the PD community as a whole must invest in these programs to grow the network into a sustainable (and expandable) community asset.  The most significant benefits to PD-specific programming are (a) instructors are trained to work on PD impairments, (b) instructors are aware of safety concerns particular to people with PD, (c) the classes tend to form natural support groups, with information-sharing, socialization and adherence the happy result, and (d) intensity level and accommodations for disability can be individualized in smaller class sizes. Check out this video by MDT Education Solutions, the company that has trained most of the instructors in the PD Gladiators network, for additional support for fitness classes adapted specifically for people with PD.

2. Let your local YMCA branch know you will join the Y if they participate in the PD Gladiators at the Y program. The YMCA has scheduled a Parkinson’s training class with MDT Education Solutions in early March. Their goal is to include most, if not all, branches in the program, but your local branch may become more enthusiastic about participating if you encourage them. Let them know what you want!

3. Be proactive. If you look carefully at what PD Gladiators does, you’ll soon realize that we don’t operate any fitness programs. We encourage independent fitness instructors, including the YMCA and LDBF, to offer PD-specific classes that meet certain standards (e.g., instructor certification and training, insurance) in exchange for working our backsides off to make the PD and medical communities aware of the value of these programs. As a nonprofit with limited funds and time (and no paid employees), we have to make choices. Right now our priority is reaching out to the community to fill existing classes and those added this year by our partners and affiliates. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to locate qualified and willing instructors in underserved areas, train them and find donated space to host their classes.  But maybe you do. MDT Education Solutions is offering their course “Community Exercise for People with Parkinson’s Disease” at a YMCA location on March 5-6, 2016, and a few slots are available for community instructors. If you live in an underserved community in metro Atlanta (one that doesn’t have a nearby YMCA branch or a competing class operated by a member of our network), find a certified fitness instructor willing to take the training course, the instructor has their own facilities or you can find a host, and you can demonstrate that there are others in your community willing to support the class (people with PD or a neurology or physical therapy practice), we will try to work with you to encourage the instructor to offer a PD-specific class (for example, by offering a scholarship to attend the training class or other subsidies if we can arrange funding). Note that some classes, like boxing training or Dance for Parkinson’s, may require more specialized training and facilities and will be harder to arrange.

Join Our Mailing List To Stay Up to Date!

We recently experienced some growing pains that forced us to adopt a new email service, which required us to have most members on the list “opt in” to remain on the list. If you haven’t received an email from us in the past week, you’re not on the list. If you would like to receive regular updates about PD and exercise, classes in the PD Gladiators Metro Atlanta Fitness Network and Atlanta area Parkinson’s events, please CLICK HERE and add at least your email to the form. You will receive an email requesting confirmation that you wish to join the mailing list. We send about one or two emails per week at most and do not use the mailing list to solicit donations. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.