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Jacksonville man with Parkinson’s joins gym, retakes control of life

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 72-year old Jacksonville man diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease says he refuses to let the disease take over his life.

For the past six weeks, Dan Pingel has been hitting the gym with a personal trainer and says he is now in better control of his life.

Parkinson’s is a brain disorder that causes people to shake and have difficulty walking and balancing themselves. The condition progressively gets worse and affects a person’s ability to stand, speak or even smile.

Late stages of the disease can lead to dementia.

“I was diagnosed a year-and-a-half ago, but the doctor said I had it for quite awhile,” Pingel said.

Pingel says the condition got worse and caused him to lose balance and fall 15 times within the past 12 months. Those falls have led to significant injuries.

“I broke my nose twice in the last year, and I still have scars everywhere,” he said.

Pingel said he got tired of falling and injuring himself and took the advice of a friend who suggested he join a gym and hire a personal trainer to help him with balance and strength.

Pingel hired Joe Adcox, a retired Marine master drill sergeant, who is now the head trainer at Anytime Fitness. The two have been training for the past six weeks and Pingel said the training is paying off.

“I have not fallen. I feel like my sense of balance has improved 60%. Not only that, I’ve gained muscle mass. I mean, it’s amazing. I feel like I have a new life,” Pingel said.

A new life with nine pounds of lean muscle added to his body, combined with a reduction of 6% body fat and better balance.

Adcox doesn’t see the transformation as a challenge because of Pingel’s illness.

“When you’re training anyone with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or in Dan’s case, Parkinson’s Disease, … you have to do the research behind it and find out what exercises and maneuvers in programming works well for what he needs,” Adcox said.

Pingel said that for a long time he felt helpless and lost his confidence in being out in public. But thanks to the training regiment, his confidence is much better and so is his outlook on life.

“It’s just been a life changer for me,” Dan Pingel said. “And I would suggest it would be a life changer for anyone, whether they have a disease or not.”

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