- Parkinson’s disease
The Journey Begins
The day after Gary Pauley turned 46, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. His doctor encouraged him to be more physically active to help combat the symptoms of his diagnosis — Gary had not been consistently exercising since leaving the military a few years earlier.
He began to participate in the Parkinson’s community, first as a motivational speaker sharing his story and as a participant in support groups.
His ears perked up when one of his support groups raised the idea of creating an accessible fitness group for people with Parkinson’s. A group member had a connection to Michael Cohen, former Olympic weightlifter, who worked with his students at Savannah State University to develop a fitness program that would challenge and motivate people living with chronic movement conditions. This led to the creation of the Get Excited and Move gym club.
Finding a Passion for Giving Back
Under Michael’s leadership, the Get Excited and Move program took off — the first class hosted 10 people living with Parkinson’s and nine caregivers, eventually drawing more than 250 members. The team’s dedication to keeping the program accessible to all, with a $10 monthly membership fee, ensured it was a success within the Parkinson’s community.
After the gym had begun to welcome more and more members, Michael asked Gary to consider becoming a coach. As someone living with Parkinson’s, Gary can relate best to each participant’s unique struggles and experience. Gary took on the challenge and for the last four years has been an integral part of the Get Excited and Move team in Georgia.
When the pandemic hit, the program paused, but it is back up and running under local social distancing guidelines. The community showed its support and eagerly returned when classes started again in October.
Gary is moving to Ohio soon and will be taking Get Excited and Move with him. He’s currently looking into the local Cincinnati Parkinson’s community to determine the best place for his own gym club in the area.
Learn more about Gary and the Get Excited and Move program on his Facebook Page.