ParkTalk Podcast - S20 Episode 01 Big Moves

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

For a list of ParkTalk episodes and series visit

Quotes from the episode: "Exercise has been clinically shown to help delay the onset or the continuation of the disease. If a person living with Parkinson's can begin a program of regular exercise (3-5) times a week it has been shown to subdue or reduce symptoms, and delay the onset or continuation of the disease. Bottom line, it just makes you feel better." -Maura Connor

"I've been told that the feeling of Parkinson's is like having stiff muscles all of the time, along with speech changes and cognitive changes.... The Parkinson's brain is going, 'my hand is in a fist and when I open up my fingers, they are really wide open.' Well, in someone with Parkinson's they might not be. So in our mobility work, it's all about over-exaggerated movements to re-connect those neural pathways and make them work better." - Maura Connor

"Exercising for me has kept me from needing medication so far. In the morning, before class, we feel stiff and slow and in a brain fog before the dopamine kicks in. But at the end of class, I always feel physically looser and more lucid, and that's just the short term physical sensation. In the long term, we know it's helping to rebuild neural pathways. And besides the structure the class provides during the pandemic, we have a lot of fun. It's important for the Parkinson's community, because it's a group of people where we know that we have something in common." - Hugh Flanders

Update: Big Moves was changed to NeuroFlex in 2022 to address several neurological conditions in addition to Parkinson's.

Find the class description in the current Program Guide. Registration for NeuroFlex is open to both Naperville residents and those living outside of Naperville.

Hugh Flanders has been a Naperville resident since 1968. He is a retired educator who served as a teacher and chair of the social studies department, and as a track and cross country coach at Waubonsie Valley High School and Neuqua Valley High School. He enjoys gardening, reading, biking, LEGO's, traveling, volunteering at Loaves and Fishes Community Services and spending time with his grandchildren.

For Maura Connor, being active has always been an important part of her life; from cheerleading and Jane Fonda workout tapes in grade and high school, to group aerobics and Bodies in Motion episodes in college.

While her career included various sales and marketing roles, as well as time spent living abroad, the dream to pursue fitness instruction has always loomed large. She is a certified AFAA Group Fitness Instructor and holds specialty certifications in TRX, Rock Steady Boxing, and Exercise for Parkinson's Training and Parkinson's Disease Awareness Training through the APDA. She enjoys group classes immensely, not only for the physical benefit, but helping others recognize how exercise can transform and enrich lives.