2.7 min readPublished On: April 24, 2024

Science-Based Exercise Plan for Parkinson’s in The Villages

Tammy Dunseath seems to know the names of all 22 people in the room as she dons her headset and checks them in for class. She repeats her instructions to put on boxing gloves and prepare to begin with shadow boxing. Some people require her individual assistance getting their gloves on.

Then, the music starts, and the fun begins. Tammy describes and pantomimes the punch combinations simultaneously. Her instructions are both rhythmic and repetitive. Everyone in the class is focused on Tammy’s positive energy, whether they can keep up with her movements or not.

For an hour, Tammy keeps this class moving through a series of exercises designed to improve strength and balance. Regardless of their abilities, the participants are all having fun.

Science-Based Exercise

Exercise may be the best way to ease symptoms of Parkinson’s and possibly slow the progression of the disease. People living with Parkinson’s, a degenerative nerve disorder, often experience confusion, tremors, difficulty speaking, movement and balance issues.

Tammy, a Certified Parkinson’s Disease Specialist, designed the Power with Parkinson’s program offered at Genesis Health Club Brownwood in The Villages. The classes in the program offer cardio, boxing, breathing exercises and confidence building.

There are three levels of classes based on ability: PWP Accelerated is for those who can remain on their feet for the entire class and work out at a fast pace with high intensity; PWP Steady is a moderately paced class for those who can stand but are not ready to stand for the whole class; PWP Assist is a chair-based class for those who are a high fall risk.

Fridays are for PWP yoga, in which people living with Parkinson’s at any ability level can participate. “In PWP Yoga we focus on anxiety, depression and posture,” Tammy says. “The participants get a great experience developing confidence and trust.”

Keeping Them Motivated

PWP participants gather before class and check in with each other. Some have been attending these classes since last year. “Some people are better off than when they started,” explains one of the PWP participants. Another one chimes in with, “Most people will tell you they can feel it when they haven’t been in class for a while.”

The consensus among PWP participants is that Tammy makes it interesting. They say she does different things in every class. “You think it’s easy until you start doing it,” one says with a smile.

Certified Program

As a personal trainer, Tammy noticed around 2015 that she was getting more clients who were living with Parkinson’s or had survived a stroke or traumatic brain injury. She sought out more education in those areas to better serve her clients. “The Villages Health invited me to partner with them, and they required additional training as well,” Tammy explains.

After earning her certification as a Parkinson’s Disease specialist, Tammy partnered with Strong Over 50 to create their Parkinson’s certification course. Strong Over 50 trains and certifies fitness professionals and physical therapists in certain fitness modalities.

For more information about the Power with Parkinson’s Program at Genesis Health Club or to learn about professional training opportunities at Strong Over 50, contact Tammy at Tammy.Dunseath@genesishealthclubs.com




About the Author: Christine Andola

Christine Andola
With a bachelor’s degree in communication from the State University of New York, College at New Paltz, in 1990 Christine embarked on a blind journey to building a career. She moved through teaching in the inner city public schools, reporting for a weekly newspaper, writing user manuals and technical documentation at a software company, lobbying and public relations at the state level for national associations and marketing for professional services firms. Christine’s writing portfolio includes everything from newspapers to grant proposals. She has developed web content, written blogs, ghost-written professional journal articles and drafted ad copy. From technical writing to lifestyle feature pieces, Christine lives by the value of words. She enjoys learning about the people around her and sharing information in a way that resonates with readers.

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