Finding, and Becoming, a Personal Trainer Specializing in Parkinson’s

Finding, and Becoming, a Personal Trainer Specializing in Parkinson’s
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I received my Parkinson’s diagnosis five years ago. I fully intended to attack it head-on, starting with exercise. Parkinson’s is not for wimps. Dancing was an important part of my plan but I needed more.

The first step of my plan was to find a personal trainer. I went on a quest to find an experienced trainer with an understanding of Parkinson’s. Additionally, I needed someone who understood me. My research led me to a local community center that employed trainers who listed Parkinson’s disease as a specialty. Great. The first planning session was scheduled for that week.

First, the trainer reviewed my medical history with me. I was newly diagnosed, so my emotions were in overdrive and I was extremely guarded. Answering the questions that were not related to Parkinson’s was easy but then …

Trainer: “Do you have the shakes?”

Me: “Do you mean, do I tremor?”

Trainer: “No. I just call it the shakes.”

Really? The shakes? I was speechless, which is not an everyday occurrence. It was a small room so a quick escape was not feasible, but my mind left the building after question #1. The entire ordeal was only 20 minutes, but it left a lasting impression on me … the 45-year-old mom newly diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s.

The seed was planted. Could I be a personal trainer?

That very moment put me on the path to where I am today. I researched different programs and enlisted the help of a friend. Eventually, our Parkinson’s fitness program was up and running. We knew basic terms, including “tremor.” Initially, our program was PWRMoves! We added Rock Steady Boxing a year ago.

I never forgot that trainer who asked me if I had the “shakes.” (I guess I should thank him.) He planted the seed of my desire to earn a personal trainer certification. However, one thing held me back — the final exam. It intimidated me. Learning the material was not problematic, but the thought of going somewhere and taking a test terrified me. Ultimately, anxiety would hit and it would be game over. The right program was out there. I just needed to find it.

After keeping my toes in the water for years, I took the plunge and enrolled in an online course with ISSA. It was a perfect fit for me. The course fit my schedule and allowed me to work at my own pace. I also purchased a hardcopy of the training book; not an ebook but a real book with pages. It was exactly what I needed: a combination of the technology of an online course and the old-school approach of a hardcopy book.

Now I am the personal trainer and I still have a lot to learn. However, I passed Parkinson’s 101 for personal trainers — you tremor when your muscles are fatigued. You do not “have the shakes.” Understanding something so simple can make a world of difference for everyone.

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

Diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 45 was devastating. After struggling with this life changing diagnosis, I decided to make a change. As a wife and mother of three boys, I needed to attack this. I started building my toolbox. I researched everything. One common thread was exercise. A doctor recommended dance lessons specifically, the Argentine Tango, so I started ballroom dance lessons with my husband and we still have a weekly dance lesson date. You can find me teaching and participating in classes from dancing to boxing. Parkinson’s takes things from you but it can also give you things you never expected. Your perspective changes. Five years ago, life gave me lemons but I’m choosing to make lemonade. It’s not quite perfect but it’s mine and with a little luck, it will get a little bit sweeter.
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Diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 45 was devastating. After struggling with this life changing diagnosis, I decided to make a change. As a wife and mother of three boys, I needed to attack this. I started building my toolbox. I researched everything. One common thread was exercise. A doctor recommended dance lessons specifically, the Argentine Tango, so I started ballroom dance lessons with my husband and we still have a weekly dance lesson date. You can find me teaching and participating in classes from dancing to boxing. Parkinson’s takes things from you but it can also give you things you never expected. Your perspective changes. Five years ago, life gave me lemons but I’m choosing to make lemonade. It’s not quite perfect but it’s mine and with a little luck, it will get a little bit sweeter.
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18 comments

  1. JoAnn Dilloway says:

    It’s obvious when you work with Lori that she has a passion for helping people with Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism. She is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, encouraging, and empathetic. It has been a pleasure getting to know Lori and to see her work!

      • Drew Effron says:

        Hello Lori,
        Your story struck a familiar chord. I was diagnosed six and a half years ago. I was 57. Fortunately I was a fitness fanatic, and had recently earned my 200hr yoga teaching certificate. In large part due to my diagnosis my wife and I decided to leave winters in Chicago behind and two years ago we moved to Sarasota. I retired in favor of finding fulfilling volunteer work. Almost immediately I learned that a a program called Yoga Reach, a 16hr program designed for Yoga teachers who want to teach folks with PD was enrolling in Sarasota. It was taught by Char Grossman from Cleveland. After taking the class (not without some final exam anxiety) I connected with a local yoga studio and have been teaching two classes per week until the pandemic put the brakes on it. I highly recommend Char’s program and I wish you well.

        • Lori DePorter says:

          I actually met Char Grossman in NYC. I was observing the Dance for PD program and she was there as well. I was planning on attending her workshop but it was canceled like everything else these past few months. Hopefully, it gets rescheduled.

          Lori

  2. Gavin Mogan says:

    Lori,

    Good stuff! I was Dxed in 2008. Became certified personal trainer in 2018. Glad to see there are a few of us out there! For myself, it’s tough to make much money. Hard to find too many people willing to pay for personal training or that I can bring myself to charge for it. I’ve also found that there is some resistance to a trainer with PD at every level: doctors, other exercise providers, and even people with PD. The truth is, very few have done much to make my path any easier, but I’ll continue for now. I know I’ve helped many along the way and that helps me.

    • Lori DePorter says:

      Thank you. Keep paving the road for others to follow us. I am a rock steady boxing coach so I teach group classes as well.

      Lori

  3. Richard says:

    Good evening:

    Recently diagnosed with PD, Looking for PT with expertise in PD.

    I live in coastal NH.

    Any pointers in the right direction would be much appreciated

    • Lori DePorter says:

      I would suggest looking for a group fitness that is PD specific. There are numerous programs available. The program coaches/trainers/instructors should be able to guide you.

      Lori

  4. Lauren Lewis says:

    I know from my experience as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, that exercise can absolutely help slow the progression of the disease and/or regain some movements diminished by the degeneration of neuro pathways. I think Ms. DePorters article can mislead a reader into believing exercise causes tremors. There is no evidence that I have seen, heard or read that of that supports that. What I think Sarah King was referring to in her article reference in DePorters article is exercise can cause mental or physiological stress if done too aggressively or without proper guidance. That kind of stress can have negative effects on the body possibly exacerbating tremors or other symptoms of P.D. .

    • Lori DePorter says:

      Thank you for your perspective because I did not want the takeaway to be exercise causes tremors. I wanted to share my experience. For me, a workout can trigger tremors and early in my diagnosis, I was self-conscious. I wanted a personal trainer who understood I was experiencing a tremor and not “the shakes.” That was 5 years ago and things have changed. Now, there is increasing PD awareness and great programs to educate those with PD and those who work with PWP.

  5. I have been diagnosed with Parkinsonism since June os 2015. In the early part of 2016 I took LSTV BIG for my exercise program. My physical trainer was from MUSC .n Charleston SC. We started the LSVT big program. I could get thru the sit down beginning of the program but we could never complete anything more. Apparently my body as shutting down from the change and amount of exercise. I never have tremors, what I get are full body shaking from head to toe. What Lori explained as was my brain not beinng able to Processig the amount of stimuli it was receiving . I owned a small web design and specialized coding business in Charleston. Se said in my terms is
    Ike when all of sudden you computer starts to act funny, then crashed and
    all you see is a blue screen. I lasted 4 weeks, I started it again in the fall of 2017 and had to stop because I
    Fell and broke my hip. In October of 2018 we went to try it again . The reason I went was to try and regain some balance the week instructor was certified in Parkinson’s and worked with many pd patients but was her first Parkinsonism with MSA. We worked a modified lstv program .
    Walking On a treadmill and eclipse Blake.. We wearable to get my right knee from a 86 degree to 103 degree.. it hurt so bad to do it but I would not give up until you could ride the bike miles, After 24 weeks I had made progress and meet my goals. I had movement again. But the. Problem is that I am in the final stages of Parkinsonism w/ MSA. I can no
    Longer communicate thru speach , And Fall so many many times I am in a power wheelchair 80 percent of the time.

    • Lori DePorter says:

      It’s inspiring to read about others and their journey, especially when someone shows such perseverance! Thank you for sharing your story. That takes a lot of courage.

      Lori

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