Parkinson’s and Pilates

Nick.concussiontalk Nick Mercer

As I have written previously, I have found Pilates to be of great help to me and my long, ongoing recovery from my severe brain injury in 2003. Pilates teaches effective and efficient movement of your body. It’s not one formula for everybody. The point of Pilates is to concentrate on a movement and to try, through repitition and focus, to allow the action to occur only where it needs to and to eliminate the superfluous movement that typically accompanies it.

Since January, I have been helping Sarah and Mike at Pony Locale, here in St. John’s, as they lead an exercise class for people with Parkinson’s disease, a class that is supported by Parkinson’s Society Newfoundland and Labrador. I am thrilled to say that at a meeting just a few weeks ago, the exercise program has been extended until December 2015.

As I help out at the weekly class, I can see how many of the participants are moving better and with greater confidence. Granted, this class is only once a week, so there are many other variables. Nevertheless, what I’ve seen is encouraging. As a way to give recognition to the class, and to encourage the idea of the class and the importance of movement in general, I thought I’d write a post. I emailed the participants several questions, receiving several answers with generally the same theme.

The simple answer is that those who answered have found the class to be excellent! Not that I ever doubted this conclusion. Judging by the large class size, and several newer participants, the class is thought to be very helpful! It is a different exercise class than most are used to and the terms “stretching” and “strengthening” have been used to describe it, with “less pain” while doing the exercises, leading to a “more relaxed” feeling after class. As the Pilates exercises are precise body movements that, in this class in particular, can be done without specific equipment, people are able to do many exercises in their home, helping them feel more relaxed and making it easier to do everyday chores. To the general public as well, Pilates is often said to be “stretching” and “strengthening”. Many teachers and Pilates practitioners use the term ‘lengthening’ to describe this type of muscle activation. Regardless of how it’s described, the benefits of this type of movement are apparent to many.

The success and popularity of this class are thanks to the instructors and owners of Pony Locale, Sarah and Mike, and of course, especially to the participants!