Chandler gym helps Parkinson’s patients cope - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler gym helps Parkinson’s patients cope

February 26th, 2019 development
Chandler gym helps Parkinson’s patients cope

By Colleen Sparks

Managing Editor


Clients battling Parkinson’s disease are finding relief and gaining hope while they pump iron at a business owned by a Chandler personal trainer of nearly five decades.

John Allen’s Personal Training on South Alma School Road just north of Queen Creek Road is known for helping people of all ages, sizes and abilities with diverse physical challenges and goals. Adding to its toolkit is Lisa Rast, a personal trainer who helps those with Parkinson’s disease as a result of her certification through Rock Steady Boxing.

The nonprofit offers people with Parkinson’s a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum designed to improve their quality of life.

While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that causes tremors, clients of Rock Steady Boxing and universities have reported the fitness routine has boosted patients’ wellness.

It is a cause close to Rast’s heart as her mother, Arlene Krysiak, has Parkinson’s disease. Her mother’s diagnosis prompted Rast to get certified in teaching Rock Steady Boxing and become a personal trainer.

On a recent weekday afternoon, Rast guided client Nick Wendelboe of Chandler through various routines, including punching a block and stepping in and out of obstacles on the floor. He also pulled devices in resistance machines in a rigorous workout.

Parkinson’s sufferers’ reflexes change with the disease, as do their dexterity and ability to multi-task, Rast said. Her regimen helps  them build up their strength.

“I love it,” Wendelboe said. “It’s helping my mobility and strength. She’s wonderful. It’s fun. I was an athlete all my life. This is forcing me to be active again.”

Retired from the construction industry, he said working out with Rast is also helping his eye coordination and speech.

Rast said people with Parkinson’s disease also suffer with speech problems; it can be hard to hear them as their voice trails off during conversations.

“It’s a difficult disease,” she said. “This gets them to the point where they build confidence in themselves. This has been proven to slow down the progression.”

Nita Wendelboe, Nick’s wife, also is a personal training client at John Allen’s Personal Training. She said the training with Rast is helping improve Nick’s reactions and movements.

“He’s enjoying the boxing part of it and moving,” Nita said. “We just have high hopes that it will lead to something bigger and better. They create kind of an open environment to talk about it.”

She said she also likes Allen and the other trainers at his business as they are helping her get in shape while dealing with her “frozen shoulder” that hurts a lot. Nita said Allen is “very friendly, very helpful, very understanding, very supportive.”

“It’s really good and I’m really happy with the decision to be here,” she said.

Joan Patten and her husband Don Yaney, of Chandler, also get personal training at Allen’s studio. Yaney has Parkinsonism, a disease that mimics the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

“There’s been physical changes we’ve seen by training,” Patten said, adding that her husband had been shuffling his feet when he walked but “now he’s learning to pick up his feet better.”

Yaney said he feels better and his balance is improving from the workouts at John Allen’s Personal Training.

Success stories like those motivate Allen, 65, who has owned his company for 40 years and became certified as a personal trainer 47 years ago.

“Everybody wants to be a personal trainer but it’s only for the ones that have a passion for it,” Allen said. “You have to look at it as an art, something you’re really good at.”

He said knowing he and his six personal trainers at his business are helping people to “make a change” in their lives and “gain knowledge” keeps him fired up about his job.

“I love personal training,” Allen said. “I can’t get enough of it. All the trainers here bring something different to the table but we know how to reach the same goal that the client wants to reach. The trainers are very professional. We’re always trying to make ourselves better.”

The clients come for motivation and for the trainers to “hold them accountable and to teach them and educate them about working out,” he said.

Clients at the personal training operation are ages 12 to 87 years old. Allen said he enjoys working with older clients and views all clients as being like his family members.

“We are here for the client, to show them there is hope where they feel like they have given up,” he said.

Allen said he has seen many clients lose a lot of weight including 100 pounds.

“I hear people say, ‘I got stronger’ or ‘I’m not having these pains anymore,’ ‘You guys make me feel special,’” he said.

Allen added he and his employees listen to clients and “train them for what they want and not what we want.”

He said he has trained professional football, basketball and baseball players in the Valley.

The gym is filled with elliptical machines, free weights, treadmills and other machines as well as TVs and a smoothie bar. Inspirational phrases are on the wall including one that says, “Look at Yourself. Love What You See.”

“I wanted to help people,” Allen said. “As a kid I played basketball, baseball, I ran track.”

He has learned how to help clients work around their injuries. While Rast specializes in helping people with Parkinson’s disease, Allen said he is “more into regular clients,” those who have had major surgery like a hip or knee replacement.

He said he wants to work with everyone, including clients with dementia and any other type of disease, condition or ailment.

“We have a very busy schedule,” Allen said. “We’re always looking for more and new clients who have been trying to do it on their own.”

Group training with two or three clients per personal trainer costs $40 per session while one-on-one personal training costs $60 per session. Each session lasts an hour. Special packages are also available. Nutritional counseling is also available.

John Allen’s Personal Training is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m Mondays through Thursdays, 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. It is located at 2915 S. Alma School Road, Suite 8. Information: