ST. MARYS — St. Marys native Linda Roth received a life-changing diagnosis last year, but instead of hanging her head, she strapped on some boxing gloves and headed to the gym.
Roth, 72, a retired high school English teacher, knew something was wrong in June because she was feeling fatigued and experiencing stiff muscles and voice changes. It was when she got together with her friends, and they noticed a difference and spoke to her about it that she realized it was time to see a doctor.
After she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Roth visited the NYU Langone Health hospital in New York, where her doctor recommended she try aerobic exercise. Research has shown it can slow down Parkinson’s symptoms, he told her.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Parkinson’s symptoms can include tremors, speech and writing changes, slowed movement or loss of automatic movement.
Roth has made many changes, including taking a medication three times per day, paying attention to her diet and heading to Anytime Fitness in St. Marys four days a week, where she boxes with trainer Cody Anderson.
Anytime Fitness Member Experience Manager Connie Herbstritt said it has been inspiring to watch Roth’s transformation.
“She is a new woman,” she said. “It’s amazing to see the progress she has made.”
Roth says she feels stronger and has noticed improvements in her voice since hitting the gym, something to which she looks forward each day.
“We have a great time boxing,” she says. “I come in here smiling, and I leave here smiling.”
She now has the energy to run after her grandchildren, Roth says. She also enjoys the social aspect of the gym, having seen many people she hasn’t seen in years.
“I feel empowered that I’m doing something besides taking medication,” she said. “The gym empowers you.”
Roth said she is grateful for the professionalism, friendliness and instruction she has received at Anytime Fitness, since the gym can be intimidating for those who don’t know how to use equipment.
Parkinson’s is not an end-of-life diagnosis, Roth said. She encourages others to find out what they can do to feel stronger and better each day.