May 11, 2014 | by Ceci Quinteros | Ceci Quinteros is a member of Parkinson’s Women Support who volunteered at the Becky Farley workshop. This is her story of what the amazing experience was like. DB

I was pretty psyched when John Berdoulay offered me to volunteer during Becky’s workshop. Becky is such a legend among the members of the Princess PD support group and I hadn’t had a chance to meet her yet. To have an opportunity to meet her and to exercise with her sounded like a dream come true.

I must admit that my first feeling when I entered the room was…panic! Sure, I knew that workshop participants would be watching us, that was the whole point; but having all these very fit people covering all walls in the room, looking at us, five volunteers, do the exercise while they observed us from every possible angle… was a little intimidating. The last time I had so many eyeballs in my every movement, I was seventeen and was wearing a blue bikini. But that was before everyone had a video camera in their call phone. Actually, that was before anybody had a cell phone. But let’s not go there.

Thankfully, Becky has this extremely warm and friendly demeanor that would make even a hippo feel comfortable on his skin, so I could focus on the exercises. We first ran around back and forth from our chairs and did other warm-up moves. Then we did a series of exercices standing up, then sitting down, then laying down on the floor. All three types of exercises were aimed at improving range, coordination, fitness and balance. We tried counting the repetitions out loud, and with a metronome. The addition of the metronome made the routines more fun, as it felt like we were dancing following a choreography.

I was surprised at how similar each exercise felt when whe were doing it in each of the different three positions. It was reassuring to know that you can exercise effectively, no matter how low your current level of mobility might be.
But by far the most illuminating aspect of the class was just how important is to really push yourself to exaggerate your moments as much as possible, and them some more. I found keeping that up considerably more difficult than I expected. At least for those of us who are naturally lazy, there is a strong tendency to remain in a cretain comfort zone of movement. Even as you’re trying to exaggerate the movements as much as possible, without noticing you reduce the amplitude ever so slightly after the first few repetitions.

Becky keept encouraging us: “Bigger, go further, stretch!” And just when I was thinking to myself: “But I AM stretching! I’m stretching as far as I can, really I am!!” my arms, legs or my torso somewhere, somehow, would find and extra 1/8″ to go. It really felt that I was on the verge of becoming completely stretchable, like the mom from the the movie “The Incredibles”. Interestingly, to keep that subtle but distinct feeling of “tugging myself out”, I had to make a very conscious effort to contradict my brain when, in every repetition, it kept telling me: OK, THIS is as far as you can go now. And say: no, it isn’t!

In that sense, I found the exercises quite challenging. It took a considerable psychological effort to stay at that very edge as the class progressed.  I couldn’t help thinking that maybe the sport stars on TV claiming that they gave “110%” during a game were onto something and 110%  wasn’t just poor grasp of basic math, as I always assumed. That is exactly how I felt doing Becky’s exercise program.

My take-home message was that the key to the efficacy of the program is to stay on that “beyond” zone during the practice and that this would probably be much harder to sustain if you’re doing the exercises on your own, without a trainer. If only we had more fitness trainers in this area familiar with Becky Farley’s method…Oh, wait. Power up!!

For a list of PWR! therapists and instructors in your area: www.pwr4life.org

To order Dr. Farley’s book, PWR!Moves™ – A PWR! Guide to a Parkinson-specific Exercise Program with Animated DVD!: http://www.pwr4life.org/product/pwr-moves-book/

About Parkinson’s Women Support
The  mission of Parkinson’s Women Support is to offer moral support, encouragement and camaraderie for women who are either Parkinson’s Disease patients or caregivers. Check out our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonswomen

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