Move to fight Parkinson’s

Regular attendees of the local Parkinson’s Counterpunch group have found huge benefits in alleviating the effects of Parkinson’s Disease and slowing its progress.

People with Parkinson’s Disease in Cambridge can now hit the gym to fight the progression of the disease, with a local non-profit local organisation offering free strengthening exercise classes.

The Studio Community Health and Fitness Centre at the Leamington domain runs free Wednesday and Friday classes for those who have the condition, with the Wednesday class dubbed “Movers ‘n’ Shakers”, and the Friday class running Counterpunch Parkinson’s sessions.

Facilitated by volunteer trainers Julie Mazur and Neal Monzari, with the help of Mike Bland, the classes have helped people slow and even halt the progression of the disease.

“The people that come along get a lot of benefit from it,” said Julie. “The deterioration process stops for most of them, it slows and stops. They just love coming here because they feel good afterwards. … they’ve formed this bond, they all accept each other.”

The group has become something of a support group and social club as well as an exercise group, with members ranging from their 30s to their 80s. It’s also believed to be very beneficial for people with MS, brain injuries, stroke survivors and other conditions where the person is still able to walk.

“I love seeing the results that people get, and I love seeing how proud they are of themselves that they achieve things that they never thought they could do,” said Julie.

Julie Mazur working with the local Parkinson’s Counterpunch group.

The trainers have been offering the Movers ‘n’ Shakers class for over three years, and Counterpunch Parkinson’s boxing for two years after seeing the initiative on SevenSharp and completing the course.

Wednesday classes include cardio, functional strengthening and exercises such as step ups, squats, push ups, “things to get their coordination going with their feet … it’s functional strength and fitness.

“Getting that heart rate up is so good for everyone.”

Research has shown exercise helps alleviate the effects of Parkinson’s Disease and slow its progress, and those who attend the local classes swear by it. “It helps with our mobility, mobility is much better, muscles don’t deteriorate,” said attendee Lyn Izzard, who gained the boxing nickname “Lynnie Lefthook”.

“If anyone just wants to come and watch or give it a go they can without any obligation … we don’t mind people coming and sitting on the side and watching what we do,” Julie said.

So far, the organisation has sourced grants from the Grassroots Trust and Pub Charity to make the classes free for those with Parkinson’s, but anyone else is welcome to attend with basic fees to cover facility costs – $12 per session, $10 for over 65s, or $120 or $80 respectively for ten concessions.

Those interested in finding out more about the group can contact Julie on 027 296 6003 or julie@thestudio.org.nz.

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