By Nancy Price
A diagnosis of an unexpected disease has the potential to shake even the strongest of us, as evidenced these past few months. Worldwide, fear has taken over as billions of people worry about their health, jobs, family, friends and future.
Greenwood Mayor Mark W. Myers understands these feelings as well. Yet, he has proven that setbacks can lead to new opportunities.
Last fall, Myers was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“When I got hit with the news, it took the wind out of my sails, to tell you the truth,” Myers said. “My thoughts skewed toward negativity and uncertainty. My immediate thoughts – What does this mean for my future? What will my quality of life become? How is this going to impact my family, friends and colleagues? – were all-consuming.
A NEW NORMAL
“After the initial shock wore off and I had some time to self-reflect, my mindset shifted toward a more positive outlook. I was able to see that this diagnosis was not the end; it was only the beginning of what my new normal would be.”
Myers consulted with his doctors, who informed him of various ways to help treat and manage his symptoms, as the disease was discovered in its early stages. One of these ways was a change in his workout routines. Myers and his best friend of 35 years, Sam Hodson, attend kickboxing at least three times a week at 9Round Fitness in Greenwood. Research indicates boxing can actually improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
“Boxing in general is good for Parkinson’s sufferers because it engages the neurons in their brain through coordinated movements (punches and kicks in our case), as well as allowing muscle development through resistance training when making contact with the bags,” said Craig Valier, principal owner of 9Round Fitness. We also work the core on every round, which in turn increases balance and coordination – two areas that typically affect those with Parkinson’s.”
The 30-minute workout is a circuit-style routine that goes through nine rounds of specific exercises. Each routine is three minutes long. “It keeps me on my toes,” Myers said. “My workouts aim to improve agility, flexibility and buildup muscle mass. I’ve lost weight and gained quite a bit of muscle. It’s been a great change, and I’m getting stronger every day.”
CONFIDENCE AND PERSISTENCE
“Honestly, I’ve seen his confidence and persistence come shining through,” Valier added. “Physically, we were seeing great strides in his coordination before we had to close down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark is very intentional about not letting this disease control him. He is in here like clockwork every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.”
In the meantime, “I’m looking forward to continuing to improve our city’s economy and quality of life,” Myers said. He said the city plans to select a development partner in the near future for redevelopment of the 19-acre former Greenwood Middle School property. In addition, Greenwood is preparing final construction documents for the new downtown fieldhouse and anticipates issuing a public bid soon, with construction starting later this year. As well, the majority of construction is expected to be completed this year for the re-imagined Old City Park.
“As mayor of Greenwood, I believe one of the most important things I can do is set an example for who we are as a city,” Myers said. “In Greenwood, we believe in hard work, honesty and never giving up. These values are what reminded me that a diagnosis cannot hinder the progress of an individual or our city. The diagnosis is a constant reminder that we must continue to grow and evolve to the best of our abilities, regardless of the challenges that we may face.”
CHOOSE TO MOVE
Myers connected with the Indiana Parkinson Foundation and Parkinson’s Awareness Association of Central Indiana (PAACI) to learn more about the disease. He’s also offered his assistance in raising awareness of Parkinson’s and will serve as Honorary Race Marshal for the Indiana Parkinson Foundation’s “Choose to Move Race” in Fishers on Sept. 12. “I’m proud to lend my voice to these organizations,” Myers said. For more information, go to indianaparkinson.org/choose.