No matter what you are faced with, if you make your body healthier, you are going to feel better. Jimmy Choi
On a perfect Southern California evening a few days ago, Mr. Twitchy and I had the priviledge of hosting American Ninja/PD Warrior Jimmy Choi at our home, with the help of Alex Montaldo and Roberta Marongiu from StopPD, who co-sponsored the event. Over 30 fans with Parkinson’s came on short notice to meet Jimmy and hear about his journey from Parkinson’s diagnosis to Ninja Warrior. They were not disappointed.
Jimmy Choi was diagnosed with PD at 27 and basically denied that he had this “old person’s disease” for 8 years, until he had a wake up call. He stopped exercising because of the diagnosis, had gained over 50 pounds and was walking with a cane for balance. This former athlete was not in good shape. Parkinson’s was taking over his life.
This was definitely not the person who was sitting next to me. The Jimmy Choi I met was musclebound, moving easily without a cane. Confident. Knowledgeable. What changed his life so dramatically?
One day after he lost his balance and fell down a flight of stairs while carrying his son. He realized then that he had to do something to turn his life around. He was becoming a danger to his family and he could not let that happen.
He started slowly, just walking, First one block and then two, gradually increasing as his energy levels improved. Eventually he started working out with a trainer. He had started to educate himself about Parkinson’s and changed his diet. Then, one day he boarded a flight for a business trip, and found a copy of Runner’s World that someone left on his seat. There was an article in the magazine about a person with Parkinson’s running a marathon. That was the “aha” moment that he needed. He came home and entered his first 5K race. Then a 10K race. He quickly moved on to 1/2 marathons and then finally, marathons. He has run over 100 1/2 marathons and 15 marathons since 2012. His weight came down, he no longer needed the cane and eventually was able to reduce his meds because of all of the exercise. His balance improved along with his gait. He is living proof that exercise is the best medicine for PD.
All of this eventually led to his participation in American Ninja Warrior (ANW) competitions.
In the video of my interview with Jimmy, he tells his story and explains how he got involved in working with the Fox Foundation, (for whom he has raised over $250,000,) and ANW. I think you will find him very inspiring and motivating.
My dear friend and PD pal, Sandy Rosenblatt came out of PD forced retirement to record and edit this video which shows how amazing and inspiring Jimmy is.
Following Jimmy’s talk, we participated in PushUps4Parkinsons and in an obstacle course set up by StopPD. Thank you to Jen Heath, who brought the project to us and created the video. Watch Jimmy doing his pushups with first his daughter, then Alex Montaldo, on his back. He is one impressive man!