No gym? No problem! | Living Well with Parkinsons Disease

By Sheryl Jedlinski

When fitness facility operations first were curtailed to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself locked out of my gym with no access to my personal trainer. There was a time I would have celebrated an indefinite reprieve from exercise, but having worked on and off with personal trainers for most of the 23 years I’ve had Parkinson’s disease, I knew it would exact a heavy toll on me.

Regular exercise is as important as taking our Parkinson’s medications “on time, every time,” doctors tell us. While not a cure, it has helped me better manage periods of stress, anxiety, and depression; perform daily activities; and improve my quality of life. Regular exercise may also slow the rate of disease progression, something no medicine has yet been proven to do. Research shows that the type of exercise we engage in is not nearly as important as doing it regularly. As few as 2- 1/2 hours of activity per week is all it takes to make a positive change.

Determined to retain the gains I’ve made over time, I jumped at the opportunity to try virtual real time one-on-one training with my longtime coach, Will. Instead of having to get myself to a gym to work with him, Will appears at my home via my laptop for two or three hour-long work-out sessions each week. Knowing he is just showing up for me gives me all the reason I need to get out of bed and be ready to work.

Will watches my every move, correcting my form and guiding me safely through the exercises to avoid injuries and provide optimal results. My husband, Tony, acts as Will’s hands, gently moving me into the precise position Will describes. Assisting Will has given Tony an  appreciation for how hard I work to maintain my mobility in the face of a progressive, incurable disease.

Virtual one-one-one training is working so well for me that even though gyms are starting to re-open, I am not interested in returning to one any time soon. Online personal trainers can do everything an in-person trainer can do and sometimes more for less money.

Many people worry that virtual training will require a big initial investment on their part, but this isn’t so. All you need is a laptop, phone, or tablet with a good internet connection, and an area in which you can safely workout in your home. You do not need machines to achieve your goals. Good trainers make do with whatever space and equipment is available to them.

Working out should be simple and easy, and with virtual personal training it is. In less time than it takes to drive to a gym, you can complete your work-out and get back to your day.


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