What is the Parkinson's Fitness Center (PFC)?  

PFC is a one-of-a-kind, South Florida-based facility, (concept developed in 1994) but founded in 2013 to provide a uniquely effective form of physical exercise for people living with Movement Disorders.  This includes support for family members and care-takers, as well. Our unique fitness programs, designed by Kreig Marks, PT/ATC in 1995, have proven to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s, MS and other Movement Disorders. Additionally, these people begin to enjoy a more independent type of life, as well. PFC programs and the information on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any Disease. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, on this website is for general informational purposes only. You are encouraged to discuss any information found on this website with your physician.

How was the PFC started?  The idea of a Parkinson's Fitness Center began way back in 1994. Kreig Marks, (the Founder of PFC), a physical therapist and personal trainer, designed specific exercise techniques including boxing and metabolic interval training years ago to help his father deal with his Parkinson’s symptoms and physical limitations. Since then, Kreig has worked with over 6500 people who have Parkinson’s Disease, M.S., Ataxia, and Dystonia and his program has been proven to have a high symptom stabilization/ containment rate of nearly 78%.  Since years ago, Kreig has earned the respect of many neurologists around the country and globe for how he trains. (Now accepting private donations, the long-term goal of the PFC is to establish a larger, independent center.)  

 

Will the PFC offer any other support services in addition to exercise?

Besides fitness training and social events, the PFC will have a weekly schedule/ calendar of support group meetings and lectures. Additionally, the PFC will help organize community fundraisers.

 

What types of exercise and fitness classes does PFC offer?   

The PFC Exercise and Fitness Programs will include group interval training, private and semi-private exercise sessions, non-contact boxing, stair circuit training and mountain bike circuits.  For our boxing program, there is no contact involved and no boxing experience is necessary. People of all ages are invited to participate.

When did rigorous exercise start becoming the norm in Parkinson’s treatment?   

In the early 1990’s several clinical studies began to support Kreig Marks’ long standing belief that rigorous exercise for people who have Parkinson's had a positive effect on their range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait and daily activity level. More recent studies, most notably at the Cleveland Clinic, focus on the concept of intense “forced” exercise, and suggest that certain types of exercise are neuro-protective. This means that continual rigorous exercise may actually slow down the progression of Parkinson's. All of the exercise programs at the PFC are designed specifically to enhance strength, balance, endurance, flexibility, burst, power, speed, coordination and agility.  

 

Do any medical studies provide evidence showing exercise can help alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms?   

Yes.  According to a recent Cleveland Clinic study, aerobic fitness can be improved in Parkinson’s patients following forced and/or voluntary exercise. Studies are showing that exercise induces brain repair and accompanying behavioral recovery. 

Cited Medical Studies:

A.  “…Exercise or other motor enrichment methods might delay the onset of Parkinsonian symptoms or slow the degenerative process, but only when there are no substantial breaks in motor activity” (1763). – Motor Enrichment and the Induction of Plasticity Before or After Brain Injury (Kleim et al, 2004)B.   “Our findings indicate that exercise reduces the behavioral impairments elicited by the dopaminergic neurotoxins as well as the loss of DA neurons” – Triggering endogenous neuroprotective processes through exercise in models of dopamine deficiency (Zigmond et al, 2009).    “It is clear that exercise can influence the multiple levels of support necessary for maintaining optimal neuronal function, which is unique among proposed interventions for aging.” (Anderson et al, 2010)“…It is so encouraging to learn based on the observations of this study that exercise training can effectively reverse certain behavioral deficits, like impaired movement, imbalance and inconsistent gait pattern that are associated with the Parkinsonian syndrome in spite of the existing severe loss.” –Restorative effect of endurance exercise on behavioral deficits in the chronic mouse model of Parkinson’s disease with severe neurodegeneration (Pathakos, Kurz & Lau, 2009)   Some studies suggest that continuous, intensive training may offer neuro-protection, and subsequently slow, stop, or reverse the progression of Parkinson’s or promote neuro-restoration.  

What are the qualifications of the PFC Staff and Trainers?   All trainers at the PFC are either Certified Personal Trainers or Licensed Physical Therapists.  They are also certified in first aid, CPR and the use of an automatic electronic defibrillator (AED).

How many classes should I attend once I get started?   

To receive the maximum benefit we suggest you attend at least 3 - 4 training sessions a week, but there are no minimal requirements. It is very important to follow through with exercise at home; something our trainers will suggest and map out for you.

Can anyone with Movement Disorders participate, no matter their age or level of progression?   

A full consultation, including medical history, will be conducted prior to beginning with the PFC. This intake will help us determine the fitness goals and assess what you will best benefit from, in terms of exercises. Nearly everyone with Movement Disorders can participate and receive benefit from the PFC programs.  

Do I need a physician’s prescription or release to attend PFC?   

For any of our personal or group training programs, a prescription is not required.  However, for skilled physical, occupational or speech therapy services, a prescription will be required.  We do not require every participant to have a physician’s release, however,  we strongly recommend that every PFC member discuss their participation in our program with their physicians as part of their overall wellness plan.  If you have a history of cardiac problems, we will require a letter from your physician clearing you to participate prior to your first session.

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