When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s I was not doing well, but I have come a long way!

Mike “Coach” McGuigan, Bronson Athletic Club Member

As a middle school and high school football coach and an avid golfer, Mike “Coach” McGuigan has spent his life staying active. After being diagnosed with non-essential tremors a few years ago, Dr. Thomas Dunne, neurologist at Bronson Neuroscience Center, escalated Coach’s diagnosis to Parkinson’s disease in 2017. Following his Parkinson’s diagnosis, and a gull bladder surgery that left him in the intensive care unit for several months, Coach knew he needed to make an effort to keep moving as much as possible if he wanted to counteract the movement challenges that come along with Parkinson’s. “Dr. Dunne suggested I sign up for a Parkinson’s exercise class, like the one they offer at Bronson Athletic Club (BAC),” Coach explains. “I did my research and looked at a few different programs around town. I was already a member at the BAC, though, and I knew I would be comfortable with the Parkinson’s Exercise instructors – Jeff and Jeremy.”

“When I first signed up for class six months ago, I was in really bad shape. I was not doing well,” Coach says. “But Jeff and Jeremy have helped me come a long way. In class, they focus on the activities we need to do throughout the day. So we do exercises that help us to be strong enough to get up and down from a chair or grab something off of a shelf and open it,” he explains. “I really like how they explain to us WHY we are doing the exercises we do in class. Since starting class, I can definitely move better, and I also understand my body better.”

Aside from the Parkinson’s Exercise class, which meets twice a week for one hour at a time, Coach enjoys the atmosphere and the staff at the BAC. “My wife and I have been a member here for years. Everyone is very friendly. I like coming here and getting to talk to everyone – front desk staff, the personal trainers, everyone,” Coach says. “It is nice to have people recognize you and ask you how your day is going. In the past, I have even had staff members stop me and tell me how much better I’m looking,” he explains.

“I have found that when some people, like myself, are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it’s easy to feel like we can’t do a lot of the things we used to do. I think it’s important to stay positive and focus on the things you CAN do. That is one reason I really encourage anyone with Parkinson’s to sign up for Parkinson’s Exercise at the BAC. Jeremy and Jeff are very welcoming. They know everyone in class and everyone knows each other, so we feel like a group. You’ll learn how to work through your movement challenges so you can stay as mobile as possible. I know my body isn’t what it used to be, but I understand my limitations better now, and I’m working hard to move well enough to get back to some of the activities I enjoyed before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” Coach says. “If you’re sitting at home with Parkinson’s, I encourage you to get up and find a place to be active. If you can be included in something that makes you feel good about yourself, that can also help to offset the challenges you’re having, why wouldn’t you?”