Community Voices

Grove Pilates studio has class for people with neurological conditions

“Pilates for Neurological Conditions” instructor Kelsey Garcia assists class participants Mara Fowler, 40, and Caitlin Healy, 29, who both have multiple sclerosis. The next session starts Oct. 1.
“Pilates for Neurological Conditions” instructor Kelsey Garcia assists class participants Mara Fowler, 40, and Caitlin Healy, 29, who both have multiple sclerosis. The next session starts Oct. 1.

A local fitness studio, Pilates In The Grove, has created a specialized class for patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis. Students of all ages are benefiting.

Christa Gurka, Pilates in the Grove owner and founder, is also an orthopedic physical therapist. She said the course was created for South Florida locals who suffer in silence.

“We see ourselves as more than just a fitness studio. We have set out to create a safe place where we can help people of various levels, abilities and health conditions to live their best lives,” Gurka said in an email.

The class instructor is Kelsey Garcia, a board certified doctor of physical therapy, certified Pilates instructor, and a board certified neurologic clinical specialist. Garcia’s teaching methods are structured to “optimize positive effects of neuroplasticity and improve overall strength, balance and function.”

“Whether it is Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, neuropathy, or any number of neurological conditions, all of these diagnoses can and will impair one’s efficiency with movement,” Garcia said in an email.

“That’s the beauty of this program. While the clients that come to this class vary in age, gender, fitness level and diagnoses, they all share some common threads: impaired flexibility, strength, balance, and motor control. The unique equipment we use allows for safe and professionally guided exercises that address these impairments and help improve each client’s functional independence.”

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Kelsey Garcia, a doctor of physical therapy and certified Pilates instructor, works with Mark Worsdale, 64, in her “Pilates for Neurological Conditions” class at the South Miami studio of Pilates In The Grove. Worsdale has Parkinson’s disease. The next session starts Oct. 1.

Class participant Mark Worsdale, 64, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011.

“Since starting Pilates for Neurological Conditions, which I feel very fortunate to have available to me in my community, I’ve noticed better digestion. Plus, it’s a very hands-on class in a family-like atmosphere,” Worsdale said in an email.

Caitlin Healy, 29, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2017, also enjoys the special course.

“Since starting this class, I have experienced many benefits, including an increased confidence in my daily tasks and improved balance and strength. This is different from other workouts I’ve tried because it feels very tailored to my needs, and takes place in a safe environment where I feel less pressure,” Healy said.

The next “Pilates for Neurological Conditions” series is scheduled to start at 3 p.m., Monday, Oct. 1, at the South Miami location, 5900 SW 73rd St., #104. For information, call 305-397-8308 or visit pilatesinthegrove.com. This is a $125 five-week program that includes four classes with the opportunity for one make-up session.

“It’s been really inspiring to work with this group and witness the bond that has grown between the clients themselves,” Garcia said. “They are constantly encouraging one another and pointing out when someone does something that he/she was unable to do in the previous week. It’s a wonderful reminder of the importance to focus on one’s abilities rather than disabilities.”

Visit campus for youth enrichment

It has been 10 years since The Motivational Edge began with a mission to educate and empower under-resourced youth. Celebrate the anniversary with a tour for adults to see what’s planned at the new campus 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at 1560 NW 36th St.

The center spans over 22,000 square feet and will offer creative spaces that focus on technology, arts, sports and wellness. For those who struggle in academics, there is free tutoring available.

“This campus has been a major goal of ours, and with the help of individuals and companies near and far, it’s now a reality. I am confident that this platform of holistic services targeting the needs of our students from the psychological to the physical can and will be replicated around the nation” said Ian Welsch, founder and CEO of The Motivational Edge in a release.

Visit themotivationaledge.org to RSVP and learn more.

Plan ahead for this parade

The Junior Orange Bowl season of youth activities has begun and plans are underway for the 70th annual parade Dec. 2 on the streets of downtown Coral Gables.

The theme this year is “A Boogie Wonderland” and the parade will commemorate the Junior Orange Bowl’s decades of impact, while remembering life in the 1970s.

“We are so very excited to be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Junior Orange Bowl Parade. A great way to kick-off the holiday season, the parade will showcase the redesigned Miracle Mile as it travels through the heart of Coral Gables,” said Don Slesnick III, parade co-chair of the Junior Orange Bowl, in a release.

Always free and fun for thousands of spectators who line the curbs, the parade will begin on Alhambra Circle and Ponce de Leon Boulevard, head south to Miracle Mile, and finish in front of City Hall on Biltmore Way. Marching bands, floats, community groups, and creative parade units make it fun for the family, especially kids.

The inaugural parade took place in 1948. The organization now presents sports activities, academic programs, and multicultural experiences for more than 7,500 youth annually. If you would like to participate, sponsor, or volunteer, contact parade@jrorangebowl.org.

Volunteer at the Barnacle

National Public Lands Day is coming up and volunteers are needed 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 22, at The Barnacle, 3485 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove, for a day to enjoy the beautiful park and give back to the community.

Admission is free and you can join park rangers for a morning of coastal cleanup and exotic plant removal. The park will provide lunch and a tour of the house museum for volunteers. Space is limited and preregistration is required. Call 305-442-6866 or email Jessica.Cabral@dep.state.fl.us. Visit thebarnacle.org.

Aliens in art exhibit

Don’t miss the free Eco-Art exhibition of Venezuelan-American artist, educator and activist Edwin Villasmil, Saturday, Sept. 15, to Thursday, Dec. 27, at Miami-Dade Public Library System West Dade Regional Library Branch, 9445 Coral Way.

In the exhibit, Villasmil has the theme of friendly extraterrestrials that, instead of invading and destroying Earth, visit in peace to help save us from pollution.

“The exhibition is a path to communicate, to stimulate dialogue, to educate, and to contribute to social transformation. Eco-Art informs and interprets nature and its processes and educates us about problems and solutions,” Villasmil said in an email. Learn more by writing to edwinvillasmil@yahoo.com.

Free astronomical talk

Learn about the autumn night sky at the next free program hosted by the Southern Cross Astros, 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at Florida International University Physics Lecture Hall Room CP-145 on the Main Campus. Free parking is available in the campus garage on the west side of Southwest 109th Avenue and Southwest Eighth Street. These monthly discussions are fun for the family and astronomy students. Call 305-661-1375.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at christinammayo@gmail.com.
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