In 2011, Peter Marconi started to see things happening to his body he couldn’t explain, like his left hand being slower when he typed, so he spoke to his doctor at his annual check-up. 12 months and two neurologists later, he got his answer: Parkinson’s. Meanwhile, in August of 2011, Peter started going to Charles River CrossFit (CRCF) of Needham, MA, convinced that his body was telling him that he needed to do something.
CrossFit itself is defined as “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” Classes are all taught by certified coaches and last for an hour, usually with a group led warm-up, followed by the WOD (workout of the day). Workouts can include gymnastics movements like pull-ups, push-ups and rope climbs, power and Olympic lifting, and running and rowing. While the CrossFit Games attract the fittest of the fit from around the globe, each WOD is scalable to make for sweat-inducing, heart pounding workouts for everyone.
CrossFit gyms (better known as “boxes”) are more than just a gym; they are strong communities that rally around their members. As part of a CrossFit box myself, I’ve seen firsthand the support that both coaches and members provide one another. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to hear from Peter how his box helped him fundraise for the New England Parkinson’s Ride. Read below and watch the great video of CRCF coaches "Pulling for Pete."
How has CrossFit helped you since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s?
CrossFit has been a Savior. I do it five days a week and I am convinced that it has delayed the progression of my symptoms as I am still not on medication (although getting close) after three years. I see a naturapath doctor, take tons of different supplements, exercise regularly and try to maintain a sense of humor about the whole thing.
What inspired you to do this fundraiser with the coaches of CRCF?
I actually had nothing to do with it! The coaches came up with it themselves since they could not participate in the New England Parkinson’s Ride with the rest of us from the box last year. I was extremely touched by their thoughtfulness and willingness to do such a great thing for me and for the Foundation. CrossFit equals community as you know! It's my church.
How long have you been doing the Ride?
My first NEPR was in 2013 with my friend and fellow CrossFitter, Mark Hasting. It was during that beautiful, 50-mile ride that Mark and I decided to recruit a team for the following year. Eighteen members later - team “CRCF Strong” was born.
I guess your plan is to return for your third year?
I plan to ride every year. It is a wonderful ride organized by the Woods family who are wonderful people. I actually feel like a celebrity being someone with Parkinson's. It is challenging, beautifully scenic and a wonderful team event. The people at the rest stops are amazing and it really makes you feel like you're making a difference in the world.
Registration is now open for the 8th Annual New England Parkinson's Ride on Saturday, September 12 in Old Orchard Beach, ME. Join Pete and hundreds of riders looking to pedal past Parkinson's.