MUSCATINE, Iowa — Leading classes to help people with Parkinson’s disease to do better with their flexibility and balance is something Anthony Krumbholz does in part to honor his father.
Krumbholz, a 34-year-old Muscatine firefighter, leads Delay the Disease classes at the Muscatine Community Y twice each week. His father, John, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, is co-president of the state chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association.
“This is my way to help with the cause,” said the younger Krumbholz, a Muscatine resident who’s been certified as a personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is certified to teach Delay the Disease classes as well.
Krumbholz works around his firefighting schedule to lead the classes, which last about an hour. This month the classes, which cost $5 per session, are being held on Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning at 10 a.m. The schedule might change in March, depending on Krumbholz’s firefighting schedule.
After just a few classes, Ralph Daniello of Letts said he’s noticed a big improvement with his balance. Falling down is one of the biggest health hazards for people with Parkinson’s disease, Krumbholz explained.
“I’m telling you, I was falling down 10 or 12 times a day,” Daniello said. “Now I don’t even carry a cane.”
“It’s a repetition thing,” said Jerry Geoghegan of Muscatine. “If we can do outside of class what we learn in class, that’s where the benefit comes.”
John Schaub said people with Parkinson’s disease “have a tendency to shuffle, and that’s something we need to work out.”
There’s a series of agility exercises designed for that. Using a ladder-like plastic mesh laid out on the gym floor, Krumbholz had the four participants first walk and eventually do something like a line dance in and out of the ladder squares. Daniello blitzed through the steps, while for other participants it’s more of a challenge.
Throughout, Krumbholz is encouraging and, at the same time, determined to teach participants the correct technique.
“We focus a lot on flexibility,” he said. “It’s a key component of the class.”
The group starts each class with a 20-minute stretch, then moves to strengthening core muscles. One exercise has them doing 12 push-ups, using their elbows instead of their hands.
Another session involves exercising with dumbbells. Then it’s on to balance exercises, such as lunges. At one point, Krumbholz asked the class, “I got lost. How many was that?”
“Twenty!” joked Wayne Corriell of Atalissa. Repetitions are generally limited to 12.
“Let’s say six,” replied Krumbholz, smiling.
“You gotta watch these guys,” Geoghegan said. “Sometimes they cheat.”
“Snitch!” said Daniello, laughing.
Schaub said he’s noticed a difference in balance and coordination after only about six classes.
“We’re strengthening our bodies and working on our balance — and we’re doing a whole lot of stretching,” he said. “It’s a good program.”
Originally published in the Muscatine Journal in February 2013.