Sometimes the timing is just right. I am starting another exercise study for people with Parkinson’s disease. This time, the goal is to learn about treadmill walking and the effect it has on keeping us Parkies folks in shape. My goal is to learn to walk better. As I said, the timing is just right. Just after this study ends, I will be walking in our first ever school walk-a-thon, to help raise money for professional development. I signed up to walk three whole laps. Each lap is three quarters of a mile and that adds up to… let me see, that adds up to…
Okay, math has never been my strong area, but I know it must be at least twenty miles. Dr. Barbara, PT, PhD, Dean and Professor of the School of Physical Therapy at Regis University, said they’d get me in shape. With all those credentials after her name, I’m willing to believe anything she says.
The first step was an evaluation of my current walking skills and balance skills. Of course, they also have to throw in that annoying cognitive element; something called a “mini-mental” exam. Fortunately, they warned me about it this time. Who expects intellectual questions from a physical therapy evaluation? I mean, really. Where in my life has it been important to know how to count down from one hundred by subtracting sevens?
Participating in studies is an interesting experience. It’s much different from any other medical appointments. First of all, they are happy to see me. Secondly, they are on time. I’ve never had to wait for my appointment when I am in a study. Usually, there is a kind student waiting to escort me directly to the exam room/physical therapy room/lab. There are often numerous students involved and they treat me as though I am one of their teachers, hanging on my every word and offering me a chair and refreshments if I look the least bit tired. They know that I am a volunteer and I’m not getting paid to help them out. I know that I’m getting therapy and not having to pay for it. It works for everyone.
I did well on the balance part. Dr. Barbara blames my yoga class for that. The walking part was interesting. There was an area taped off on the floor which was to be my walking path. I was given instructions to walk forward, backward, fast, slow, normal pace, and with my eyes closed. Each time I walked down the hall, I was timed so they could see just how slow I am. If all these challenges weren’t enough, before one pass, they put a large cardboard box in my path. They wanted to watch me get over the obstacle.
Now, lately I’ve become addicted to watching parkour. Specifically, I’ve been watching “Jump City Seattle”, a program where four teams are competing with a combination of parkour, freerunning, and acrobatics. Parkour, in its purest form, is the art of moving quickly and efficiently, using the most direct route over and around obstacles, and it’s NOT competitive. Freerunning includes all those showy moves like doing a triple flip in the air when you jump off of a twenty foot high building onto the concrete below. I like to watch this for several reasons. The first reason is because one of our former students, Dylan Baker, is on the show. The second reason is because I can’t move that well. It’s amazing to see what the human being is capable of doing. Thirdly, if I can’t get to sleep at night, watching a Jump City episode is sure to tire me out.
Of course, if that was MY kid up there, jumping off of buildings and running across narrow steel girders three stories above the street with no safety net, there is no way I could watch.
Back to the therapy evaluation, I eyed the pathway carefully, sizing up the obstacle. I briefly considered the possibility of doing a superman flip over the box, ending with a dive roll. I realized, however, that the goal was efficiency and safety, not showy moves, and I settled for a rather clumsy step over the box instead. This is called “Parkour for Parkies”.
On Wednesday, I will begin my training on the treadmill. We’ll see how it goes! By May 7th, I should be ready to do my laps for the walk-a-thon. I have a few donations already. If anyone feels moved to support my effort, please visit our walk-a-thon page at the Reinhart Family Pledge page. We hope to meet our goal for fundraising for our teachers. We’ve also had one friend who is pledging a donation for another cause. That’s cool, too. Wherever the donations go, they will encourage me to walk that extra lap. If I slow down to a crawl and think about quitting, bribes for the benefit of the school should help. I’m open to other bribes, too, like chocolate.
I’ve decided to go with the true spirit of parkour as well. I’m going for efficiency, not flash. I promise I won’t do any flips and I’m not planning on competing against anyone.
I can do this. I will have had six weeks of training and Dr. Barbara says I’ll be in shape. I might not even need bribes, either; unless it’s chocolate. I might even walk a fourth lap for chocolate.
Donations may go to:
Videos about Parkour and Freerunning