GEM offers strength in the midst of weakness

SAVANNAH, Ga. – “Two left! One right! Switch!”

These orders can be heard echoing through the Anderson-Cohen Weightlifting Center.

The athletes receiving these calls aren’t high-school football players or military cadets, but often people in their 60’s, 70’s and older.

They are people here eager to stay ahead of their health and take a chance to live a life beyond a dire diagnosis.

Most in the group suffer from Movement Disorders and old age.

When Michael Cohen took a closer look at the reality for therapy for people with Movement Disorders, he was disappointed.

“When I look at all the things available for Parkinson’s, I was appalled,” Cohen said.

During Summer 2016, Cohen created and founded Get Excited and Move, better known as GEM.

GEM gives people the opportunity to take part in weekly exercise classes. Cohen designs the classes so no two are the same. People take part in boxing, control weightlifting, stretching, kettle ball exercises and more. Cohen also created the classes to help with balance and problems with osteoporosis.

“It’s an accomplishment that this disease is not going to get me, I’m going to get it,” Helen Andrew said. Andrew suffers from Parkinson’s and says she’s improvements with her strength and balance since starting GEM classes.

The classes are designed for people with disorders and diseases such as Parkinson’s, M.S., Lewy Body, Cerebral Palsy and others.

“Don’t treat these individuals as patients or clients. You treat them as your athletes. Push them,” Cohen said.

While Cohen is adamant about treating everyone with respect, he also wants people to have fun and see the classes as a change to bond over their common life experiences.

“There’s some days I’m shaking so badly I don’t want to go out, but I can go to Michael gym because everybody will accept me,” Edward said.

The classes are also part of an ongoing academic study with Armstrong State University to see how the brain can adapt to exercises despite having a disorder.

If you would like to join a GEM class, call 912-376-9833.

Classes are $10 and take place Mondays-Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m. & 6-7 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

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