Exercise a ‘life saver’ for personal trainer with MS

Dave Parker was in a pretty dark place.

Within the space of about two years, his wife died, he was left as a solo parent looking after two children, he had to have a hip replacement and then he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The multiple sclerosis caused him to have some cognitive issues, he lost the use of his right arm, he used to fall over a lot and he temporarily went blind.

To top it off, it made his job in management impossible to do.

“I’ve just got that many lesions all over my brain.

“It was one thing after another, after another. It was a lot. I’ve been through some pretty rocky places.”

But today, life is completely different for the 38-year-old.

After his MS diagnosis, he discovered physical exercise improved his symptoms, so he started retraining at Otago Polytechnic as a personal trainer — one of his greatest challenges.

“Everything points to exercise being really good for you when you have MS and I refused to quit.

“The exercise has helped. My brain has re-routed the signals and now my vision has come back lots — it’s not perfect, but it has come back a lot — and my balance is much better.”

He was also supposed to have his second hip replaced, but through his exercise regime he had managed to “stave it off”.

“There are so many benefits to my health.”

Now he has started his own personal training business and operates out of Propel Fitness in Princes St, Dunedin.

“I could see that I wasn’t going to be working all that much longer, so I decided to call it early and retrain in something that gave me a little bit more purpose.

“What I’m trying to do is work with other people with MS and other people who are sick, and try and lift their health and life prognosis through exercise.”

Mr Parker said, these days, he woke up raring to go.

“I wake up and I say, ‘I’m going to go to the gym and I’m going to work out and I’m going to try and advertise myself’. I look forward to every day now.

“Exercise has saved my life. It’s also given me something to work towards — it’s given my life purpose.”

At the moment, he has several clients, including his mother who has mobility issues.

“She’s 68 and was groaning every time she sat down or stood up, and picking things up off the floor was so hard for her.

“But now, she can lift 55kg off the ground and we’re talking about doing a powerlifting competition.

“I’m amazed at what the human body can do.”

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