Our Programs

  • “I don’t have any choice whether or not I have Parkinson’s, but surrounding that non-choice is a million other choices that I can make. …Our challenges don’t define us – our actions do.” (Michael J. Fox) Explore all of the opportunities Parkinson’s Fitness programs offer and promise yourselves this: “Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I will give myself reasons why I can.” (Author Unknown)
“Research shows the need for individuals to continue an exercise program to maintain the benefits received during therapy and to achieve further progress. Few factors contribute as much to successful aging as having a physically active lifestyle.” http://www.gordon.edu/balance

Our Parkinson’s Fitness programs help people with the motivation and capability to fight Parkinson’s through exercise, arts and movement programs.
(click for our class times and locations)

Exercise Programs

We focus on customized exercise goals to improve balance and stability, agility, cognitive awareness, and strength training by ability levels.

Participants “compete” against their Parkinson’s symptoms similarly to an athlete in training. They challenge themselves and other members to consistently increase their endurance, strength, coordination and mobility goals through:

  • boxing
  • step hurdles
  • hand weights
  • agility ladders
  • Parkinson’s dance and yoga instruction
  • resistance bands
  • gymnasium ball throwing, kicking, passing
  • limb stretches
  • marching
  • rhythm walking
  • chair exercises
  • proper posture and body alignment
  • obstacle courses

Arts and Movement Programs

“Get creative and try to use your Parkinson’s, rather than be limited by it.”
Rachel Dolhun, MD, Staff Movement Disorder Specialist at the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Blending dance and inventive movements engages the body and mind, and provides a unique method for practicing the importance of stretching, balancing, breathing and releasing tensions. Class instructor Dianna Daly incorporates all of these elements in her weekly teaching style during classes on Monday and Friday in Danvers, Tuesday in Topsfield, and Thursday in Gloucester.

“He who sings frightens away his ills.” Class members who participated in our initial music program, as well as the 8-week MedRhythms music therapy program we provided, would certainly agree with the quote attributed to Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (one of the greatest novelists of the Spanish language – i.e. his masterpiece, Don Quixote). During both programs, members not only had fun singing together and exploring how music affects both the brain and body, they also learned a few basic guides for improving their communication abilities by practicing voice projection, breath control, swallowing and speech exercises, and facial muscle relaxation to lessen the “masking” appearance associated with Parkinson’s. We are re-focusing the scope of the music program and hope to offer another series in the near future. We continue to incorporate music during our regular weekly exercise classes, where we sing, we sway, we stretch, we march and we dance! Music is a powerful connection with the brain and helps initiate and improve flexibility, balance, cognition and gait!

“Playing music actually increases serotonin and dopamine production in the brain, which through Parkinson’s decreases with the progression of the disease. Specifically with drumming, there’s a rhythm and a beat to it, so there’s an anticipation that our brains connect with.” – 
attributed to Bill Dluhosh, Music Therapist at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington. Parkinson’s Fitness has offered therapeutic drumming under the leadership of board-certified music therapy instructors. We completed our most recent eight-week drumming session provided by MedRhythms Neurological Music Therapy of Boston, and we are exploring options for future scheduling when time, location and financial assistance come together to make the next program possible. As a carry-over drumming activity into our regular exercise classes, we also practice combining step movements while simultaneously beating out rhythms using 12-inch dowels as drumsticks!