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S20 Episode 01: BIG Moves


Instructor Maura Connor and participant Hugh Flanders discuss a new class, BIG Moves, that helps those diagnosed with Parkinson's.

For a list of ParkTalk episodes and series visit

Quotes from the episode: “Exercise has been clinically shown to help delay the onset or the continuation of the disease. If a person living with Parkinson’s can begin a program of regular exercise (3-5 times a week) it has been shown to subdue or reduce symptoms, and delay the onset or continuation of the disease.  Bottom line, it just makes you feel better.” –Maura Connor

“I’ve been told that the feeling of Parkinson’s is like having stiff muscles all of the time, along with speech changes and cognitive changes.… The Parkinson’s brain is going, ‘my hand is in a fist and when I open up my fingers, they are really wide open.’ Well, in someone with Parkinson’s they might not be.  So in our mobility work, it’s all about over-exaggerated movements to re-connect those neural pathways and make them work better.” – Maura Connor

“Exercising for me has kept me from needing medication so far. In the morning, before class, we feel stiff and slow and in a brain fog before the dopamine kicks in. But at the end of class, I always feel physically looser and more lucid, and that’s just the short term physical sensation. In the long term, we know it’s helping to rebuild neural pathways. And besides the structure the class provides during the pandemic, we have a lot of fun. It’s important for the Parkinson’s community, because it’s a group of people where we know that we have something in common.” – Hugh Flanders

BIG Moves Virtual Fitness Class through Naperville Park District’s Fort Hill Fitness

Find the class description in the Winter 2021 Program Guide on page 28 or go to, click the “Online Registration” tab, and search for BIG Moves under Activities.

Registration in BIG Moves is open to both Naperville residents and those living outside of Naperville. 

Hugh Flanders has been a Naperville resident since 1968. He is a retired educator who served as a teacher and chair of the social studies department, and as a track and cross country coach at Waubonsie Valley High School and Neuqua Valley High School. He enjoys gardening, reading, biking, LEGO’s, traveling, volunteering at Loaves and Fishes Community Services and spending time with his grandchildren. 

For Maura Connor, being active has always been an important part of her life; from cheerleading and Jane Fonda workout tapes in grade and high school, to group aerobics and Bodies in Motion episodes in college.  

While her career included various sales and marketing roles, as well as time spent living abroad, the dream to pursue fitness instruction has always loomed large.  She is a certified AFAA Group Fitness Instructor and holds specialty certifications in TRX, Rock Steady Boxing, and Exercise for Parkinson’s Training and Parkinson's Disease Awareness Training through the APDA.  She enjoys group classes immensely, not only for the physical benefit, but helping others recognize how exercise can transform and enrich lives.  

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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