“Just put one foot in front of the other.” Austin Peck
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford
Introduction to Part 1: From May 28-June 3, >100 people came to Scottsdale, Arizona for the PWR! Retreat. The final tally had >50 people-with-Parkinson’s, more than 30 care partners and ~20 physical therapists/fitness professionals, and PWR! Gym staff.
Simply stated, participating in my first PWR! Retreat was life-altering, life-changing and possibly even life-saving. It will be hard to put into words what the week meant to me and what it did for me.
I have decided to write 2 posts describing the PWR! Retreat, Part 1 contains: (i) overview of week; (ii) instructors; (iii) impressions of format, instructors, teams, and location; and (iv) video presentation describing the entire week.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
Video presentation describing the entire week: I want to begin with the finale and show a video compiled to highlight the week of the PWR! Retreat. The vast majority of pictures shown in the video were either taken by or obtained from Claire McLean. A few things I want to highlight about the PWR! Retreat that you will see in the video include the following: a) it was a tremendous amount of fun; b) it was a lot of work physically because we exercised several hours every day; c) there was total camaraderie and synergy throughout the week; d) every afternoon was spent being educated about Parkinson’s; e) the physical therapists/fitness professionals that led our sessions were all outstanding people and really knew how to work well with everyone with Parkinson’s, and f) the week revolved around the exercise program and philosophy created by Dr. Becky Farley (Founder and CEO of Parkinson Wellness Recovery), and in reality, she was the reason we were all at the PWR! Retreat.
Assembling the pictures and putting it all together into the video format left me somewhat speechless. The video brought back so many wonderful memories of the interactions with everybody and it reminded me of the intensity of the exercise. Watching the video allowed me to recall the sheer quality and quantity of the education program presented, and it let me reminiscence about the sincerity and friendliness of everyone present. It just felt like everyone wanted to be at the PWR! Retreat every single second of that week.
Video of 2017 PWR! Retreat: Pictures With Great Memories (to access the YouTube site, please click here).
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney
PWR! Retreat agenda and overview of the week (Click here to view Program ): There were basically two-sessions per day. The morning always began for everyone with a PWR-Walk with poles at 6:30 AM, then breakfast and then separate programs for those of us with Parkinson’s (exercise) and Care Partners (a mixture of education sessions, group discussions and/or exercise), and sometimes we were combined together (which was always fun). Lunch was next. The afternoon session was usually all-inclusive of participants and we listened to experts discuss many aspects of Parkinson’s, we had group discussions, and we had sessions of yoga, meditation, Tai Chi and other modalities (e.g., deep-brain stimulation surgery or DBS) used to treat Parkinson’s. The day usually ended at 5:30 PM and dinner was on our own. Many came back after dinner to the game room, we had a dance night, I played golf on 4 different evenings, many of us returned to the resort bar/club to socialize and many people checked in early because an 11-hour day was incredibly fun but also it was tiring. All-in-all, the agenda was completell, well-rounded, and most enjoyable. We were never bored.
“I find that the best way to do things is to constantly move forward and to never doubt anything and keep moving forward, if you make a mistake say you made a mistake.” John Frusciante
PWR! Retreat instructors (brief biographies of the people who led our instructions; presented in alphabetical order after Dr. Farley): To me, exercise was the most important aspect of the retreat, followed by meeting everyone with Parkinson’s, and then equally important, the educational program. Therefore, I want to present the physical therapists/fitness professionals, volunteers and staff that provided us our workout each day. Each person was uniquely qualified; in my opinion, together as a team they have no equal. Here are a few comments about each one of the instructors.
•Dr. Becky Farley has a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Arizona, a Masters of science physical therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a bachelor of physical therapy from the University of Oklahoma. During her post-doctorate, she developed the LSVT Big therapy program. Following this, she created the exercise program of PWR!Moves, opened the PWR! Gym that follows a philosophy centered on exercise is medicine and framework call PWR!4Life; in all this is contained within the nonprofit organization called Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR!). The PWR! Retreat begins and ends with Dr. Farley; she’s clearly the heartbeat of why we were in Arizona.
•Dr. Jennifer Bazan-Wigle has her doctorate of physical therapy from Nova Southeastern University. She is an expert in treating individuals with Parkinson’s and various movement disorders and works at the PWR!Gym in Tucson, Arizona. My history with Jennifer starts in 2016 when she was my instructor for PWR!Moves certification; she was a motivated teacher, very knowledgeable about Parkinson’s and had intensity and the drive to really focus us to learn the material. Jennifer is a role model for a physical therapist, and she is an amazing educator for working with those of us with Parkinson’s.
•Jan Beyer completed her Masters in health education from Cortland state New York and started her own personal training business called “FitJan”. She now lives and works in the Vancouver, Washington area where she’s working for the Quarry Senior living as the fitness director/Parkinson’s director.
•Dr. Emily Borchers has her doctorate in physical therapy from Ohio State University and she currently works at the PWR!Gym. Emily was very effective at sharing her expertise in helping teach all of the individuals with Parkinson’s.
•Heleen Burghout has a Masters degree in physiotherapy from University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and she has a primary care practice called ‘FhysioAlign’ in Ede, the Netherlands. One of the main focuses of her practice is dealing with exercise and improving physical and mental conditions of people with Parkinson’s.
•Dr. Valerie A. Carter has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff Arizona and is an associate clinical professor of physical therapy at Northern Arizona University. She is certified and has taught workshops in both PWR! Moves and LSVT Big. She owns and operates “Carter rehabilitation and wellness center and outpatient physical therapy clinic” in Flagstaff and she is an expert dealing with Parkinson’s patients.
•Dr. Carl DeLuca has a doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He works in Wisconsin Rapids Wisconsin and is focused on a patient population with outpatient orthopedic and neurological including people with Parkinson’s. He is working to set up a central Wisconsin PT program for Parkinson’s.
•Dr. Chelsea Duncan has a doctorate in physical therapy from University Southern California and works as an outpatient neurologic clinic that specializes in movement disorders. She focuses in teaching both one-on-one and group exercise classes for people with Parkinson’s. And she does live in sunny Los Angeles California.
•Marge Kinder has a degree in physical therapy from University of California, San Francisco and for more than 40 years has been practicing and treating neurological disorders. She is the project coordinator for the Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome Georgia.
•Dr. Claire McLean has a doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Southern California and is an adjunct faculty member at both University of Southern California and California State University, Long Beach. She has extensive training and is a board-certified neurologic clinical specialist and teaches both PWR! therapist and instructor courses. She has started a community wellness program for people with Parkinson’s and this is located in Southern California. My experience with Claire is that she was the voice and instructor for the videos that I use in my own training and for my undergraduate class in highlighting PWR! Moves. Claire is an incredible PT/educator of exercise-and-life-programs for those of us with Parkinson’s.
•Nancy Nelson is an ACE certified personal trainer and fitness specialist with over three decades of work experience in the health and wellness industry. She is an expert in dealing with exercise and Parkinson’s.
•Sarah Krumme Palmer has an MS degree in exercise physiology and have been working with patients with Parkinson’s for over 20 years. She is the owner of ‘forever fitness’ in Cincinnati Ohio. She is certified in PWR! moves professional, and has the Rock Steady Boxing affiliate in Cincinnati and has a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
•Kimberly Peute has an MBA from Webster University and is currently a JD candidate University of Arizona School of Law. She was an active participant in the PWR! retreat and was in charge of the care partner program.
•Lisa Robert has a physical therapy degree from the University of Alberta and Edmonton Alberta Canada and has been working in various settings including acute care, private practice and outpatient setting treating neurological patients. Lisa has NDT, LSVT Big and PWR! Moves professional training experience, and she is a Master Trainer for urban poling. Lisa is also an excellent golfer; I had the opportunity and pleasure to play golf with her twice during the week of the PWR! Retreat.
•Ben Rossi has nearly 20 years of experience in fitness coaching, eight years dealing with the peak Parkinson’s community and as the founder of InMotion, he owns and operates ATP evolution performance training center. Ben’s goal is straightforward in that he wants you in motion, helps you achieve a better eating program, encourages a positive attitude and he wants you to become 1% better every day. He lives in Warrensville Heights Ohio.
•Melinda Theobald has her MS degree in human movement from the A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences, where she is certified by the National Academy sports medicine as corrective exercise specialist and a performance enhancement specialist. She currently works for Banner Neuro Wellness West in Sun City Arizona.
•Christy Tolman has been a licensed realtor for over a decade and served on the Parkinson’s network of Arizona at the Mohammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix. She was everything to the PWR! Retreat in terms of organizational skills; in other words, the PWR! Retreat was successful because of Christy’s effort.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford
Impressions of format, instructors, teams, and location:
Location– Scottsdale Resort in McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale Arizona was the ideal setting for the PWR! Retreat. The resort itself was well-kept and the rooms we used for the retreat were just right; the staff were helpful; it was adjacent to a golf course (great for me); many restaurants/shopping were only minutes away; and the food was just never-ending and really good quality. I realize you can’t control the weather, but it was ideal sunny, hot and dry with clear skies.
Format– the format was described above and it seemed ideal for the participants dealing with exercise in the morning and education in the afternoon with evenings free either to do things with your partner or with the group-at-large.
Instructors– They totally rocked! I cannot imagine a better group of people to teach PWR! Moves and the other exercise (PWR-pole-walking, Circuit and Nexus) routines associated with the PWR! Retreat. It was also so nice to see them outside of exercise; some gave talks in the afternoon sessions, we had meals together with them , and they were also active participants in all of our other events.
Teams– we had four different teams, my team was the Blue team (For pole walking it was both the people with Parkinson’s and the care partners together, and for the exercise it was typically just the people with Parkinson’s together) and my group did the following sessions together as illustrated by the blue boxes in the table below. I will describe the experience in more detail in my next post. However, this was the vital experience that made the PWR! Retreat so valuable, spending time with these people the majority of whom had Parkinson’s (it was a special treat and honor to have the care partners with us for so much time as well because they were remarkable people themselves).
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. / Instead, focus on what to do next. / Spend your energies on moving forward / toward finding the answer.” Denis Waitley
Pictures With Great Memories: Below are posted many of the pictures that were contained in the video I showed in the beginning of the post. My second post I will spend more time talking about the exercise routines, education program, team camaraderie, and my personal feelings behind the week of exercise and everything else associated with the PWR! Retreat. It’s very safe to say as I remarked at the beginning, the impact of the PWR! Retreat on me was life altering and very meaningful in a profound manner.
My Team/Program Leaders (names of those missing from pictures are given in the video):
The Team Leaders and Teams:
Exercise Routines (Pole walking, PWR! Moves, Nexus and Circuit):
Dance night, game night and meditation:
My Keynote presentation and additional ‘stuff’:
Additional photos of the PWR! Retreat instructors/organizers:
Giving thanks and saying good-bye to all of the instructors:
“I do believe my life has no limits! I want you to feel the same way about your life, no matter what your challenges may be. As we begin our journey together, please take a moment to think about any limitations you’ve placed on your life or that you’ve allowed others to place on it. Now think about what it would be like to be free of those limitations. What would your life be if anything were possible?” Nick Vujicic
Cover photo credit: