Julio is the perfect example of dreaming big and not letting Parkinson’s Disease put a ceiling on what you think you can achieve. Remember your goals and achievements are specific to YOU. Your marathon might be successfully walking around the block. Your Ironman might be climbing a set of stairs with more confidence. I hope you find Julio’s story as motivating as I did:
“I am a composer of music for audio=visual media and a Senior Lecturer in Music and Sound for The Screen at the University of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. I am from Venezuela where people tend to be very outdoorsy because of the weather and geography, from Caribbean beaches to the Amazon and right up to 5.000 m. altitude in the Andean region where there is perpetual snow. I made a point to visit all those places while I was living there, and after University (where I only played football) I took up mountain biking, climbing and adventure racing. Mostly I did long distance running both as on roads or along the mountain range surrounding Caracas that goes right up to 3.000m. I have ran many marathons including Boston (USA), New York several times, London and Chicago. I have also ran a few ultramarathons. I have completed 5 Ironman Triathlons. The one thing I’ve never done properly is long swims, apart from the 2.4 miles of Ironman Swimming. I am also a Yoga instructor in power yoga styles, so not your typical yoga but more of a bodyweight oriented practice.
I have just reeled off the variety of my activities, (sorry!!) to highlight how happy I was to find out that exercise is key in delaying or reverting PD, especially if done at a RPE of about 80% hahaha! Perfect!! – and of course, with elements of dual tasking!
I was finally diagnosed with PD last year just before my 60th birthday, and yes, it was a shock and I though it was a life sentence… but when I asked my doctor what I could do, she described my current lifestyle anyway…. Exercise, yoga, meditation, nutrition, etc., then I started rooting around and found the story of John Pepper in South Africa through that amazing book by Norman Doidge, “The Brain’s way of healing”. So I started power walking as opposed to just walking, then I discovered PD Warrior and more of the related literature of exercise and Parkinson’s. I found I had a PD Warrior’s Physio nearby in Sheffield but they were closed due to lockdown so I was referred to the wonderful Vicky Knight and I asked her more about PD Warrior. Then I took the plunge and signed up for the challenge with the 1:1 sessions added and I haven’t looked back!
I’ve had my PD Warrior routine refined gradually by Vicky in the last weeks so as to fit into my busy exercise routine, and that has been invaluable. The aim has been to blend it in so it is not something extra, but a daily part of my routine. These days I’m waking at 6:39 (don’t ask! Haha), I go out to the garden, in any weather and I hose myself down with cold water, it’s winter here so it’s been anything but trivial, some days involving showering in the snow and at others flexing the hose to loosen the ice inside or pouring boiling water on it to melt the ice. I’ll then do my PD Warrior HIIT to warm up and do my abs routine and Pull-ups plus elastic bands exercise and get on the treadmill. Depending on the day, I do an hour of yoga or two hours (one am and one pm), on three days a week I teach it also. Also depending on the day, I go swimming with my wife to some of the nearby reservoirs and canals, in any weather and sometimes breaking ice to get in, no wetsuit at present (easier than it sounds!). Sometimes I shake pretty violently after I get out and my core temp drops, my right side more than my left and I then have the chance to try and consciously control the reflex and relax – this may be useless exercise but for me it is a key into my autonomic system (says the musician!! Haha). The rest of the day I am producing music, preparing lectures or teaching.
I’m also preparing for a swim in aid of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, from Gosport in Portsmouth on the southern English coast across to The Isle of Wight, which they tell me is only 5k but Google maps tells me it’s about 6k! It’s organised by Vicky Knight and Peter Burns of Positively Parkinson’s.
I love the whole PD warrior thing, the webinars teach me so much and motivate me to put the principles into practice, (thank you Melissa!!), I also like doing the 10-week videos for a change from my tailored routine and I like following along at their more sedate pace and reminding myself of core principles. For me, like my marathons, mountaineering, adventure racing and triathlons, Parkinson’s is just another challenge which I believe can conquer if I work hard enough! And if I can do it anybody can because I am not particularly gifted physically except for being a bit stubborn in chasing goals!!
If you’re still reading, I apologise for the length of this!! I have no excuse!!
Finally my two top tips:
- Get a buddy, they don’t have to have PD, they just need to be as active as you want to be, I have a great one in my wife and another friend who swims and does my yoga sessions and is quite competitive.
- Watch the webinars, they show you how all this stuff makes sense and there is no substitute for being thoroughly convinced about the need to exercise in a certain way.“
Congratulations Julio! We can’t wait to track your progress leading up to the Isle of Wright swim!