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September Parkinson's Spotlight

Learn more about Jamal Barrow

September Parkinson's Spotlight

Jamal Barrow, the Health and Wellness Director at the Saratoga Springs branch, is featured for this month's Parkinson's Spotlight.  Jamal oversees all health and wellness operations and programming at the Saratoga branch.  He has been with the YMCA for five years, and previously worked as a Fitness Director of another fitness facility for seven years.  Jamal is a former athlete and shares that "exercise has always been at the center of my daily activities and lifestyle." Jamal Barrow was awarded Cause Driven Leader of the Year in 2022 for his critical role as the Health and Wellness Director for the Saratoga Springs Branch.

Jamal shared that the Saratoga YMCA made a commitment coming out of the COVID shutdown in 2020 to implementing programs that addressed chronic diseases such as PD, Arthritis, high blood pressure, etc. and community health.  It was important to him and the rest of the Saratoga YMCA that they step up as a pillar of the community to improve the health and well being of all, and not be looked at as just a "gym and swim" type of facility.

Jamal recently completed head coach training for Rock Steady boxing, formally certifying the Saratoga branch as a RSB affiliate and licensed location.  Rock Steady Boxing is a nationally recognized program for those with Parkinson's.  It is an all-encompassing boxing program (though way more than just boxing!), that is designed to motivate, energize and improve the daily lives of Parkinson's patients.  The program also includes cardio and aerobic activity, brain training games and exercises to improve cognitive function in patients.  It also brings multiple participants together!  Any person with PD can do it, regardless of the stage of Parkinson's, as coaches can make adjustments and modifications to exercises and classes. All RSB affiliates complete pre-assessments of all new participants to make sure they are aware of any additional or advanced difficulties they may have. More information regarding when these classes will start and how to sign up will be shared over the next few weeks.

Jamal shared that they have two other PD specific programs that the Saratoga Y currently offers:  Pedaling for Parkinson's (cycling program) and PWR! Moves (a strength training program).  They are currently exploring the viability of creating a movement and balance program for people with PD.

Long term, Jamal plans to be here at the Saratoga Regional YMCA.  "I would love to expand my role here and share our work with community leaders, healthcare partners (which we have already done), and continue to bring awareness that the Y is here to help everyone on their health and wellness journey, whether it be to lose weight, recovering from injury, or overcoming chronic disease.  Ideally, I'd like to lead our association of branches in Saratoga county in that regard."

A piece of advice from Jamal:

Take care of yourself both inside and out!  Self-care, and mindfulness are important, and taking care of your body is equally important, as you only get one, so treat it well!

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