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Glace Bay gym members say customized class has improved mobility after brain trauma, Parkinson’s

Perry’s Gym owner Perry Moore, centre, stands with Dave Clarke, left, and Ron Cote. Clarke and Cote, who both have mobility issues due to medical conditions, have been going to the gym for a year and a half. They credit Moore, his staff and his training programs with improving their overall well-being and mobility.
Perry’s Gym owner Perry Moore, centre, stands with Dave Clarke, left, and Ron Cote. Clarke and Cote, who both have mobility issues due to medical conditions, have been going to the gym for a year and a half. They credit Moore, his staff and his training programs with improving their overall well-being and mobility. - Nikki Sullivan
GLACE BAY, N.S. —

Exercise does more than just the body good and the owner of Perry’s Gym and Fitness Centre is eager to show people with mobility issues how.

About a year and a half ago, Perry Moore hired Aileen Fahey to teach a fitness class customized for people with mobility issues, Parkinson’s disease, brain trauma and other disabilities.

Two of the 25 members of the class, Ron Cote and David Clarke, saw so much improvement in their mobility and overall health from the class, they decided to take Moore up on his offer to add personal training sessions to their exercise program.

Two months later, Cote, who has Parkinson’s disease, and Clarke, who has mobility and memory issues due to brain surgery, are praising Moore’s customized programs, his staff and his gym’s welcoming atmosphere.

“At first I was afraid we’d gotten in over our heads," Cote said of adding personal training to three fitness classes each week.

"But Perry did things at a good level for us,” said Clarke, who had a brain tumour removed 15 years ago, which resulted in paralysis on his left side.

“He took us under his wings,” added Cote, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 14 years ago. “Just the fact he was looking up exercises for Parkinson’s, it shows you he cares.”


Exercise and Parkinson’s disease

  • Can help prevent or slow disease progression
  • Helps manage symptoms such as balance, constipation
  • Improves strength
  • Linked to better brain health
  • Helps with socialization

Source: Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Exercise and brain trauma

  • Improves blood flow to brain
  • Stimulates chemical changes enhancing mood, thinking
  • Increases focus, memory
  • Changes brain in ways that protect memory, thinking skills
  • Helps with balance, co-ordination

Source: healthybrains.org


Moore said he researches online and has gotten some medical advice from local doctors. He said he's learning that intensive exercise, such as 25-minute cardio sessions, can help delay the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms. Boxing, one of the circuit exercises of the customized fitness class Fahey teaches, is also recommended for people with Parkinson’s and brain trauma, said Moore.

For brain health, it increases blood circulation and improves focus and memory. Exercise also builds strength, coordination and balance – things needed for good mobility.

Since starting at the gym, Cote and Clarke (who met more than 30 years ago when they were both working for Cape Breton Development Corp.) both said they've seen improvements in mobility as well as overall well-being. Not only is their co-ordination and balance better, they're sleeping better, their moods are better and they enjoy the social aspect of going to the gym.

Clarke, who couldn’t lift his left arm more than a few inches when he started attending Perry’s Gym, can now lift it over his head.

Cote said before he started, he couldn’t get out of bed unless he rolled over to the side, threw his legs over and pushed his upper body up. Now he can sit up.

“I would have come a lot sooner if I knew it would be like this,” said Clarke. “It’s like a big family here.”

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has an area dedicated to exercise on its website (michaeljfox.org), calling it “one of the most powerful treatments” for the disease.

Dr. Anita Mountain, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, said she “absolutely” recommends patients exercise. She said many reports indicate exercise helps people recovering from brain trauma.

“Every time we turn around, there is a new report on the benefits of exercise,” said Mountain, who works for the Nova Scotia Health Authority and teaches at Dalhousie University.

“And we’re starting now to see the connection between cardiovascular exercise and brain health.”

Mountain said research has proven exercise can help with cognitive issues people may have after brain trauma caused by things like injury, stroke and brain surgery.

Mountain said exercise can also help people socialize.

“After a brain injury, that social part can be a real factor, getting out into the community again after,” she said.

“The social participation benefits can really help with that. It can be a benefit for all of us.”


Perry’s Gym

  • Where: 1 Sampson St., Glace Bay
  • Hours: 5 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Offers: Personal training, fitness classes
  • Call: 902-849-0881
  • Facebook: Perry’s Gym and Fitness Centre

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