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COVID-19 Suspends Pedaling for Parkinson’s Programs Nationwide


July 13, 2020

Denver, Colorado - When recreation and fitness facilities closed across the country due to the COVID-19 crisis, Pedaling for Parkinson's (PFP) began offering an online solution to help people living with Parkinson’s bridge the time between now and when we can return to the hundreds of PFP authorized cycling studios.  The big question is, how long will that take and what will PFP look like on the other side?  

Seemingly overnight, the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis enveloped the earth, invading nearly every country and quickly became the leading news story around the world.  As Seattle and New York City fast grew to be the epicenters in the United States, the virus appeared to be spreading at a rate not seen in modern times.  Not since the Spanish Flu in 1919 had the world experienced such a pandemic.  

In early March, it was apparent drastic measures would be required to curb the onslaught and flatten the curve of the disease spread.  By mid March much of the US was shutting down — businesses, recreation facilities, schools, restaurants, etc.  Only essential providers remained on the job, adding grocery store workers and waste service providers to the “hero” ranks along with first responders.

The APEX Parks and Recreation District closed all facilities at 5:00 PM on Friday, March 13, 2020, including the Cycling Studio, one of the five Denver area PFP programs.  Few details were made available other than citing the order of Colorado’s Governor.  Suddenly, this regular group of riders were without facilities and equipment.  The same thing would happen to the Boulder, Westminster and Denver programs.

As the month came to an end, PFP Program leaders John Carlin and Tom Palizzi put together an online class filling the APEX Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10:30 AM class time.  They sent out email invitations and instructions to join the class using Zoom video conferencing.  A few people signed in and the program has grown ever since.  

“Right away, we recognized the biggest problem was that few people had a stationary bike at home,” said John Carlin, Regional PFP Coordinator.  “The reason the program works so well at recreation facilities is simply because they have indoor bikes available.”  

As the days became weeks and the weeks became a month, the closure delay was appearing to be a moving target.  It soon became obvious the PFP programs wouldn’t be returning to the cycling studios any time soon.  

“At first, people asked about purchasing an indoor bike,” said Tom Palizzi, PFP Marketing.  “It didn’t seem to make sense to spend upwards of $1,000 on a bike when the thought was this might only last a month or so.  But as time went on, it just became obvious we’d be doing the virtual thing for quite a while.”  He believes he’ll be running his Zoom class for as much as 12 to 18 months, perhaps until 2022.  

“It’s hard to conceive hosting a class in a social distancing environment without moving the bikes into a much larger facility,” he added.  “Most studios are smaller rooms with bikes easily within arms reach of one another.  It’s important to note, the virus isn’t going to magically disappear.  When a vaccine is developed, inoculations could take a year or more, and after that, a period of time before we are all comfortable to return to crowded spaces.”  

… There is a lot of information on indoor stationary bikes including buyers guides, ratings and reviews.  

“I’m hoping we can get more online programs going in PFP facilities around the country.  I have a few people from New York and South Carolina, and someone in Las Vegas, Nevada.  And interestingly enough, we’re still getting requests to establish new programs, even amidst the ongoing shutdown of most facilities.”  

Carlin and Palizzi are passionate believers in Pedaling for Parkinson’s, crediting this workout routine to helping slow their progression of Parkinson’s disease as well as helping them maintain overall good health.  Both were diagnosed well over 10 years ago, yet they still manage to serve their communities as active volunteers and advocates for people with Parkinson’s disease, and they each lead Pedaling for Parkinson’s classes in Denver.


For more information about Pedaling for Parkinson's Online, click here.  Bookmark this site for updates on bridging the COVID time-gap and in the meantime, keep "Exercising your Brain."


Tom Palizzi

Pedaling for Parkinson’s — Marketing

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