Participants believe new Pedaling for Parkinson's class will grow in numbers.
The first words of Stevie Wonder’s R&B hit — “Very superstitious / Writing’s on the wall… ” — pumped out of the speakers and into the room filled with rows of stationary bikes.
In this case, the writing on the wall was literally a sign above the mirrors that read “CREATE CHANGE.”
It seemed the three men battling Parkinson’s disease were working to do just that at the “Pedaling for Parkinson’s” class at the Lakewood Ranch YMCA.
“Always keep the chin lifted, airway open, focus on your breathing,” instructor Hope Hahn told the men as they worked on stationary bicycles. She made her rounds, checking in on each person, helping to adjust the equipment as needed.
The new class had three participants Feb. 13, and Hahn expects more since the class just began Feb. 4.
“I know it’s going to grow,” she said.
The class made its debut at YMCA largely due to assistance from the Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s, a nonprofit that provides resources and connections for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. The nonprofit provided a protocol for instructors to use and helped facilitate the class.
Foundation Executive Director Robyn Faucy-Washington said the pedaling class adjusts intervals, timing and speeds to levels suitable for Parkinson’s patients.
“The reason this program is so important is exercise is the only thing that can slow the progress of Parkinson’s,” she said.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease includes tremors, slowed movement and impaired balance, among others.
Tom Schneberger, a 71-year-old Parrish resident who attends the classes at Lakewood Ranch YMCA, said after each class, he feels better.
“It seems to give me energy,” he said. “I just feel much better after I finish the class.”
Larry Ivers, of the Country Club at Lakewood Ranch, said he was trying his fourth class.
“It’s tougher than I thought it would be, which is good,” he said, noting that Hahn was an excellent instructor.
Ivers said he would like to see more people at the classes.
“The more the merrier,” he said. “It would be great to fill up all these bikes.”
Hahn said she finds it rewarding to lead the classes, which are available to those with YMCA memberships or $12 for a day pass for nonmembers. If people are coming with caregivers, the caregivers can come in as the pedaler’s guest, she said.
Hahn said she does it out of a love for seniors. She wants to help them improve their balance and strength.
“We want them to be excited about exercise and for them to recognize that this can help them,” she said.