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Minnetonka Resident & Personal Trainer Helps Those with Parkinson’s

Minnetonka resident and personal trainer helps those with Parkinson’s.
Heidi Weinberg is a Minnetonka resident and St. Louis Park personal trainer specializing in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.
Heidi Weinberg is using the power of physical activity to slow patients’ progression
A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is undoubtedly a scary one; a progressive disorder relating to the nervous system, this disease has no known cure. However, with medication and physical movement, often the progression of Parkinson’s can be slowed and symptoms can be managed. Minnetonka resident and personal trainer Heidi Weinberg, who works out of a gym in St. Louis Park, is working to do just that.
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, “Exercise is good for the heart and the muscles, but exercise can actually change the brain. Establishing early exercise habits is an essential part of overall disease management, which is why neurologists now recommend exercise as part of most [Parkinson’s disease] treatment plans.”
Weinberg has been a personal trainer for over 11 years, and shared that she began this career path at a YMCA with a membership demographic of over 50% older adults and seniors.
“One of my first clients was a 74-year-old man with Parkinson’s. His wife had bought him sessions with me due to falls he was experiencing,” she shared. “I had never met anyone with Parkinson’s before, so I started doing research. After working with him two to three times a week for about three months, I began to see a turnaround in his symptoms. I was so excited.”
Weinberg shared that before meeting this client, she had never realized how many people suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
“I would be training him, and nearly every time, someone in the fitness center would ask me if he had Parkinson’s. Then they would tell me ‘my husband, my father, my wife, my aunt,’” she said. “As I continued doing research into exercise and Parkinson’s, I came across a specialty certification in Delay the Disease (Parkinson’s) in Ohio.
“Being from Ohio, it was perfect. Since then, I have taken multiple Parkinson’s and other older adult certifications. In addition, while my daughter was at Ohio State, I took an extra day each time I visited to shadow David Zid (owner of Delay the Disease, now called Total Healthworks).”
Weinberg completes specific continuing education courses in the areas of Functional Aging, Training the Older Adult, Brain Health Training and more through the American Council on Exercise. She is also a Wellness Partner with the local Parkinson’s Foundation in Minnesota.
I am well-versed in every [Parkinson’s] symptom. It has been said, if you meet one person with Parkinson’s, you’ve met one person with Parkinson’s,” Weinberg said. “Every person presents differently. After 11 years, I have seen and worked with it all, and all ages – young onset to people in their 80s. I devise training plans that tackle each client’s specific main symptom(s), but also covers other exercises they need to slow the progression of the disease – getting the heart rate up, gait training, large movements and strength/power.”
While she said most of her clients have Parkinson’s, Weinberg also has training in mild cognitive impairment, pre and post-joint replacement, power training and balance for seniors.
With a master’s degree in public administration, Weinberg changed careers from non-profit planning and budgeting to personal training with an emphasis on seniors.
“At my last non-profit job, I worked with seniors coordinating social services and running a monthly volunteer group. Exercise has always been an important part of my life, as well,” Weinberg explained. “I decided to get my ACE Personal Training Certificate and switch careers after seeing the immense benefits exercise has in keeping people independent as they age.”
Weinberg shared a message for all older adults, not just those with Parkinson’s.
“Strength training is your ticket to independence as you age, be proactive. Leaving your senior years to chance is like financial planning with lottery tickets,” she said. “While there are many group exercise options and support groups, it is difficult to find one-on-one training from someone who knows this disease. I am trying to get the word out that help is available.”

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