Class of 2021

Chad Moir

President and CEO, DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center; Age 36

When someone who is afflicted with Parkinson’s disease meets Chad Moir, he asks if there is any activity they did before their diagnosis that they wish they could do again.

Moir uses exercise programs to help people stop or slow down the progression of Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disorder that increasingly robs the body of dopamine, which is released during exercise. Moir chose DopaFit as the name of his company to suggest improving a person’s dopamine fitness.

“Parkinson’s wants to make a person small — crunch down and take small steps,” he said. To counteract that, exercises for his clients are overexaggerated, featuring big body movements. “Applied to someone’s daily life, the exercises we work on in class will correlate to them having a normal walking pattern.”

Moir became involved in the Parkinson’s community when his mother became afflicted with the disorder and eventually died due to complications from the disease. “The love she gave me for many years is the same love I have instituted into DopaFit in helping people with Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

Because high-intensity exercise works so well for Parkinson’s patients, boxing is a centerpiece of the activities at DopaFit.

“Boxing elevates your heart to a rate almost equal to running around the block, without putting the stress on your knees and joints that you would get from running,” Moir said, adding that, in addition to the physical benefits, there are big mental-health payoffs, too. “It’s so cool for our clients to say they’re going to boxing class instead of they’re going to therapy. It really lifts their spirits.”

The most satisfying part of his work is when people can return to activities they enjoyed before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. For example, one client went skiing for the first time in three years. “Another client who used to be a pilot hadn’t flown in 10 years because of Parkinson’s. We recently got him in the cockpit for the first time, and he was able to fly again.”

Moir — who was also recently honored as one of BusinessWest’s 2021 Difference Makers — said he’s happiest when he is helping others, taking inspiration from the Muhammad Ali quote, “service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

In other words, he added, “I just want to leave the earth a little better than when I got here.”

 

—Mark Morris

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