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Meet Colleen Bridges

The conversation below was an interview for BOLD JOURNEY.

Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Colleen Bridges. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.

Colleen , so good to have you with us today. We’ve always been impressed with folks who have a very clear sense of purpose and so maybe we can jump right in and talk about how you found your purpose?

I’m not sure I “found” my purpose but my purpose “found” me. I have always loved helping others and exercise! From a young age, my mom taught me to respect and care for the elderly. I loved helping her care for my grandmother and because my mom worked at a nursing home, I would go and visit the residents and sing for them. Even now, when one of my Parkinson’s fighters is sick or in hospice, i will go and sit with them and sing to them.

My love for fitness goes back to my high school music teach. I watched her conduct the choir and wished I could have awesome biceps like her! So, I started exercising and would ask her advice on exercise. Even to this day, she is in great shape. But what made her really special is that she recognized that I needed encouragement in that season of my life. She was willing to reach beyond her “job description” as a teacher and extend love and support to a student. Her extension of love and support has had a ripple effect on my life. Now, as I work with people living with Parkinson’s Disease, care-partners, Belmont graduate students, my coaches and anyone I meet, I do my best to remember they are first a person with dreams, fears, hurts, gifts and talents. They deserve to know they are seen and loved.

So, I have the incredible joy of combining two things I love to do…helping others live healthy lives and the result, HOPE!And HOPE looks so good on them!

Thanks, so before we move on maybe you can share a bit more about yourself?

I began my personal training/fitness career working with the general population and I loved it! A few years into my career a friend of mine was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and asked me to train her. While I was familiar with MS, I didn’t feel completely qualified to train her . I asked her if I could take some time to learn more by visiting with doctors, physical and occupational therapists and earn my Multiple Sclerosis Fitness Certification.She agreed to wait and once I was prepared to meet her needs, we began working together. I loved seeing her regain her strength, mobility, independence, AND zest for life that ultimately enabled her to do things most of us take for granted, such as caring for her young children.Over time, physical and occupational therapists and physicians began sending clients to me, those living with MS, post total knee or hip replacements, stenosis and other back problems. All of these issues motivated me to study and push myself to be the best trainer possible for my clients.AND THEN, one of my clients shared that a friend of hers had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She asked if I would be interested in working with him. I said “yes, but once again, I wanted to learn about the disease and make sure I would be meeting my client’s needs. At the time, Parkinson’s research on exercise was limited but I knew that Dr. Jay Alberts of the Cleveland Clinic suggested “forced-intense” exercise as the most effective method for people living with Parkinson’s. With the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Irv Rubenstein (owner of STEPS Fitness), we developed a plan for my client.The results were astounding! His mobility, flexibility, agility and coordination, strength, and cardio endurance improved significantly! These improvements allowed him to continue traveling internationally , playing golf, tennis, skiing, volunteering with his church and community projects and his precious grandchildren.One day I shared with my client my dream to have a Parkinson’s Fitness and Wellness Center available to anyone regardless of financial status. He said “keep working hard and you will.” So that is exactly what I did. I attended every Parkinson’s Education class I could find, I spoke to doctors and therapists. Then someone shared a newspaper article about “Rock Steady Boxing”. I thought “boxing”?? Ok, very interesting. I immediately began studying the effects of boxing on Parkinson’s disease, became a certified Rock Steady Boxing coach and affiliate and in April 2016, started offering Rock Steady Boxing Music City classes.From there, my dream began to take shape and six years later, Bridges For Parkinson’s ( was born! Today, I have 150+ “Fighters”, 2 locations, virtual classes, 26 classes per week, 16 coaches with backgrounds ranging from Physical and Occupational Therapy, Body Work Therapist, Certified Parkinson’s Disease Coaches, Tai Chi, Parkinson’s Dance, Music and Movement, Personal Training, Care-partner support group and a Mental Health therapist. Vanderbilt University Movement Disorder Physicians took note of their patients’ improvements and asked me to join them in a research study focused on the effects of Rock Steady Boxing on the glymphatic system.We also work with Belmont Physical and Occupational Graduate students. It is important for them to have hands-on experience working with people living with Parkinson’s Disease before they enter the professional world. Our program allows them to think outside the clinical box and learn some new ways to help their future clients “fight back”.In 2020 I was asked to develop the first “Parkinson’s Fitness Specialist” course for personal trainers and group coaches through Medfit Education Foundation. Additionally, I offer additional continuing education for fitness professionals via my website.The best part is…no one is EVER turned away ! We have a 501(c) 3 scholarship fund called “Call On The Fighter” ( to help us keep that promise. And care-partners are welcome to participate at no charge too!The joy of working with my “fighters” has changed my life. They are a part of my family and I am so blessed to work with them.

If you had to pick three qualities that are most important to develop, which three would you say matter most?

We have all been given gifts and talents to share with others. Sometimes we know at a young age exactly how we want to impact the world for the better while some, like me, change plans along life’s journey. Either way, to be our best and make the most impact, we have to: A. Be willing to let others “pour” into you their experiences and wisdom. I love working with the senior population because they are fountains of knowledge. At any given time, they are ready to share stories of the past and offer wisdom to me. And since they want to “pour” into me…I willingly “soak” it up.B. Be eager to “stretch” yourself! Fear of challenges will remain fears if you don’t push yourself to grow especially in difficult times. The gift you give yourself of conquering a challenge elevates your goals ! I love the reminder that I shouldn’t fear challenges or new ideas/goals because there is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle! Ha! So true!C. Trust God. Be patient in the “stretching”, soak up the wisdom and guidance from people he puts in your life and trust him…When you are tempted to aim for success on your own you will settle for far less than God’s best for you!

And…everything I have mentioned above is something I work on every day! But the joy I reap from my work with those living with Parkinson’s is bountiful because I’ve learned to accept wisdom, be challenged and trust God.

Who is your ideal client or what sort of characteristics would make someone an ideal client for you?

Bridges For Parkinson’s is a Parkinson’s Disease (and Parkinson’s Plus) fitness and wellness program.

My mission is to address the WHOLE body, not just the Parkinson’s symptoms. If someone is suffering from shoulder, hip, back, knee pain then there mobility will be affected, increasing the chance of a fall or reducing their ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). I’ve developed exercises specifically to improve Parkinson’s symptoms. If we can help them move pain free then we can accelerate improvements as it pertains to Parkinson’s Disease and while we’re at it, keep Parkinson’s symptoms at bay!.

2. HOPE- People living with Parkinson’s Disease AND their care-partner need to know they are NOT alone. We are here to support and encourage them through their journey.*Care-partners are encouraged to exercise with us at NO additional cost!

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