Exercise is essential to everyone’s health, but for those with Parkinson’s disease (PD), it may be even more important. Those living with Parkinson’s may experience balance and gait issues, stiffness, slow movement, tremors and other mobility issues. With nearly 60,000 Americans being diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year, the Y wanted to provide an exercise program designed with PD in mind. Countryside YMCA has partnered with Atrium Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy to offer a Parkinson’s workout program. We call it Live Large with Parkinson’s, and classes are available every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am.

parkinsons awareness - ymca parkinsons class


Live Large with Parkinson’s Class at the Y

If you are living with Parkinson’s disease, exercise can help you maintain the mobility and balance you need to continue enjoying your daily activities.

Live Large with Parkinson’s can help you develop self-confidence while decreasing the risk of fatigue and falls. Because these are group exercise classes, you also have the opportunity to make new friends.

Classes are led by instructor Debbie Parshall, who is also Director of the Otterbein Lifestyle Enrichment Center. Debbie has a background in personal training and has been working with older adults for more than a decade. She also has training from Delay the Disease and Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery.


Step 1: Ability Screening

The Live Large with Parkinson’s fitness program starts with a FREE ability screening to help us better understand which program phase will work best for you.

The screening will look at a few things:

  • How many falls you’ve had in the past month
  • Whether you walk with or without a cane
  • Whether you need assistance getting out of a chair

Evaluations are free of charge and available by appointment.


Phase 1

The Phase 1 program is designed for people with Parkinson’s who need a little extra assistance through physical therapy. Formal physical therapy typically lasts 4-6 weeks, but Phase 1 can be extended if it’s beneficial for the individual.

All Phase 1 sessions will be scheduled with Atrium Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy, which is located right here at Countryside YMCA.


Phase 2

The Phase 2 program offers group exercise sessions for beginner to intermediate levels. Classes incorporate stretching, balance, seated, core and standing exercise for mild heart elevation.

The aim of Phase 2 is to help reduce your symptoms of Parkinson’s and retrain your brain.

Classes are held right here at Countryside YMCA or at the Otterbein SeniorLife Community.


Phase 3

The Phase 3 program is designed for more advanced members. Like in Phase 2, these group exercise classes incorporate stretching, balance, seated, core and standing exercises. However, they also incorporate circuit-style exercise for moderate heart rate elevation.

These classes will get your heart pumping while helping retrain your brain and reduce your symptoms.

Phase 3 classes are held here at the Countryside YMCA or the Otterbein SeniorLife Community.

If you are living with PD, consider the Live Large with Parkinson’s program. Not only is the program a great way to stay active and help maintain your mobility, but it also offers an opportunity to forge lifelong friendships with others in the community who share your experiences.