Winton, YMCA offering Brain & Body class

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Kelly Winton and the YMCA of Chilton County is offering a group exercise class for people with cognitive and memory issues.

The free, 12-week program is from Oct. 30-Jan. 26 with no classes the week of Nov. 20. Classes will be Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Winton, a certified group class instructor and personal trainer, has been teaching fitness classes for 10 years with most of her experience coming in Florida. However, in 2022 she moved to Chilton County to be closer to her family, including her mother who has Parkinson’s Disease.

“When I got here and started teaching classes, one of my goals was to get my mother exercising again. When I saw her she was frail, and her coordination and balance was off,” Winton said. “I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something with the Parkinson’s population for a while.”

Winton had her mother start coming to all of her classes she was teaching at the YMCA, and within three months, she began to see an incredible improvement with her mother.

“She was a completely different person,” Winton said. “I read and learned so much about how exercise really helps (the Parkinson’s) population, and I started getting interested and looking into certifications for fitness for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s populations.”

Over the summer, Lori Patterson, CEO of the YMCA of Chilton County, got a call from the Parkinson’s Association of Alabama asking if there were any instructors at the YMCA that would be interested in teaching courses for that population.

“Of course, I was like ‘Yes,’” Winton said. “It was an absolute answer to prayer for me because I have been wanting to do it for a long time.”

The program is designed for the Parkinson’s population and those with dementia, but it can benefit anyone looking to better their memory, balance or fall prevention. It is aimed at empowering people with cognitive and memory issues to live better and experience new levels of hope through their daily life.

The Total Brain & Body program, developed by David Zid, Jackie Russell and Teepa Snow, focuses on symptom-specific exercises and tasks that target physical and cognitive function and help optimize and restore independence.

Winton has certifications she has received in recent years that gives her the credentials to be a complete Parkinson’s instructor and Total Brain & Body instructor. She believed there would be so many people in and around Chilton County who would benefit from a class like this.

“We want these people moving, and we hope we can get the community aware of the program and help some people,” Winton said.

The program’s classes will have cycles that will include light cardio such as arm raises for those seated, and the cardio can go as high as a participant wants if they are able. The main goal behind the cardio is to get the heart rate up, which increases the individual’s neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to change through growth and reorganization, and the brain begins to work better.

From there, the class shifts to the brain-work part that features games that enforce memory tactics, motor skills, sequencing exercises, balancing and gate practices. The final cycle is for strength such as core exercises, and strength is important to reduce symptoms such as tremors.

“If you work really hard on your strength one day, you see the following day your tremors are better,” Winton said. “We would do cardio, brain-work and strength, and three cycles of those within an hour.”

The free program is limited to 20 participants and is a first come, first serve basis. To enroll, call 205-755-2382 or stop by the YMCA of Chilton County. Free transportation is available and those interested should contact the YMCA of Chilton County.