The Times photos by Zoe Schwab
Dick and Robbie Shoemaker participate in the stretches at the start of the Climb class.
The Times photos by Zoe Schwab Dick and Robbie Shoemaker participate in the stretches at the start of the Climb class.
Ten people sit in a circle surrounding an instructor with their arms stretched high above their heads in what could be any exercise class at any spa or gym.
But there’s a difference. The people at LivRite Fitness in Noblesville are warming up before their Parkinson’s exercise class begins.
The Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation offers an exercise class called the Climb to people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The class is available to anyone with Parkinson’s disease, whether they were just diagnosed, have few symptoms or many symptoms. Caregivers are welcome to attend classes as well. The Climb has multiple locations throughout Indiana.
Parkinson’s disease has no cure, but medicine and exercise can help with the symptoms.
Kim Williams, Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation program director and the Climb trainer, trains the group at LivRite Fitness five times a week, along with other trainers.
“With our program, we work to fight the deficits of Parkinson’s,” Williams said.
The class will begin with stretching. After stretching, the exercises will work on posture, movement, speech, balance, and more.
According to the Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation, the Climb’s goal is to provide exercise and activities to help improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s.
Any person diagnosed with Parkinson’s is welcome to observe the Climb classes. Once someone decides they are interested in attending the classes, they will have to provide the appropriate paperwork before joining.
At the Noblesville location, it costs $30 a month to join the Climb and $30 to join LivRite Fitness totaling $60 a month between the two.
The Climb not only offers support for Parkinson’s patients, but also provides support groups for patient caregivers. Caregiver support meetings take place once a month.
Members have the opportunity to go to the class as many or as few times a week as they would like.
Dick Shoemaker was diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s last May. He now attends the class five days a week with his wife.
“I thought ‘I don’t feel any different’.” Shoemaker said. “What can I do to continue to feel that way?”
Shoemaker has a tremor in his left hand. He joined the Climb to continue to feel the way he felt before the tremor.
Robbie Shoemaker, Dick’s wife, sees a difference in her husband when they don’t attend class.
“He notices when we don’t come.” Shoemaker said. “It’s really good for me too. We come almost every day.”
Judy Byer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in February 2015 and has been attending the Climb for almost two years now. Byer says getting the exercise has helped her symptoms, but she also has enjoyed the people too.
“My balance has improved and I’m not as stiff,” Byer said. “I enjoy the exercise, but I really like the social aspect as well. Being able to talk to other people with similar symptoms is nice.”
Williams, the Shoemakers, and Byer all think it’s more than just an exercise class.
“We meet, we exercise, and we laugh.” Dick Shoemaker said. “It’s more of a caring group.”
Dick and Robbie Shoemaker plan to continue to attend classes in the future as Dick’s Parkinson’s could progress.
“Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen and you go with it.” Robbie Shoemaker said. “You do the best you can.”
The Times is partnering with the Indiana Parkinsons Foundation to promote education and awareness of Parkinson’s disease. For more information visit