TMSG: Making the turn against Parkinson’s

EAST LANSING MI (WLNS) – Todd Gardner was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago, after concern about being unable to golf, he organized a golf outing, and used those funds to design an exercise program specifically for those impacted by Parkinson’s.

“There’s very few things that are under the direct control of a Parkinson’s patients, but exercise is one of them, it can have a dramatic impact on the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients.” Todd Gardner, President of the non-profit “Making the Turn Against Parkinson’s” said.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease that impacts stability, mobility, and range of motion.

The 12 week program designed by professionals at Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club, is giving patients with the diseases, results beyond expectation.

“I’ve seen, wheel chair bound patients walk… One gentleman in particular, went to his neurologist for his regular six month check-up, and his neurologist was amazed with the dramatic improvement he made in just six short weeks.” Gardner said.

According to some trainers, the most improved patient is John Higgins.

“I’m stronger, and more zip and more snap.” John Higgin’s a participant who has had Parkinson’s for over 20 years said, while he sat in his wheel chair with a smile.

Personal trainer Ryan Patterson says during John’s first week he was apprehensive about getting out of his wheel chair but by week eleven, he was able to do a total of 12 laps with only 2 breaks.

“I feel healthy and I feel good about myself and the people around me” Higgins said.

John Higgin’s daughter, Pam Ishimoto, says her dad hasn’t only improved significantly in mobility, and strength, but in his quality of life.

“He made a comment once after we left here and he said that I feel like I’m alive again, its added a lot of energy to his life” Pam Ishimoto said about her father.

Higgins story is only one of the many, who have been touched by this exercise group, and he sends a message to anyone else impacted by Parkinson’s and thinking about joining the next class.

“I love it! I’m so glad I stuck with it” Higgins said.

According to Gardner this is the only program specifically designed for Parkinson’s patients in the Lansing area.

The next twelve week session begins Tuesday September 8th.

The Parkinson’s exercise group is free, funded by “Making the turn against Parkinson’s” and Sparrow.

If you or a loved one is impacted by Parkinson’s and interesting in joining the group register by contacting Russ Zalkin at 517-364-8824 or

The Next twelve week session, begins Tuesday, September 8.

Class meets every Tuesday at 7 a.m. and Thursday at 7:15 a.m. at the MAC.

For more information visit

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