This “Superman of Fitness” Battles For His Life


Faster than a dashing bullet. More highly effective than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single sure. Okay, possibly Anthony Catanzaro could not carry out all these wondrous feats of energy, however he had nonetheless turn into referred to as the “Superman of Fitness.” And identical to the true Superman, he is met his kryptonite, and it is giving him 1 hell of a battle.

In 2013, when Catanzaro was on the comparatively younger age of 43, he was identified with Parkinson’s illness, the identical debilitating sickness that struck film star Michael J. Fox, boxer Muhammad Ali, and numerous others. Typically, Parkinson’s impacts the aged. When it impacts folks Catanzaro’s or Fox’s age, the outcomes could be significantly devastating.

After gracing the covers of bodybuilding magazines only a few brief years in the past, Catanzaro now has hassle finishing easy, on a regular basis duties like showering, shaving, and dressing. He additionally has problem typing, so his spouse, Tina, solutions my e mail questions as we work on this text. When Catanzaro and I communicate on the telephone, although, his voice and goal are sturdy.

When Catanzaro and I first started speaking, he was adamant that he couldn’t solely treatment himself, however he may do it with out medication. According to medical science, nevertheless, Parkinson’s illness has no identified treatment. Most sufferers take a wide range of medicines to assist handle the signs. Which makes Catanzaro’s strategy to the illness shocking, contrarian—and daring.

“I believe that continuing my training and nutrition regimens is the best ways to combat Parkinson’s,” he says. “But I also think you need to combine these tangible things with something intangible: how you view your life.” In different phrases, your mindset.

Becoming Superman

Catanzaro was drawn to health and super-human achievements at an early age.

“When I was 15, I watched a lot of WWF. I was inspired by Hulk Hogan, Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage, and movie stars like Arnold and Stallone.” These males grew to become his heroes not solely due to their physiques, however due to their stop-at-nothing attitudes. “I felt like I had something inside pushing me to excel that must have been pushing them too.”

Catanzaro started weight coaching at residence in his early teenagers. By the time he reached 18, he had already begun modeling eveningwear and jewellery. He grew to become a health mannequin in his early 20s. That in flip impressed him to pursue health competitions. He entered the WNBF Mr. Fitness International in 1996, putting 3rd amongst almost 30 opponents.

Becoming superman

“It was a great start, but I wasn’t satisfied with the result,” he says. One yr later, he received the identical occasion, and switched from health to pure bodybuilding.

In 1998, Catanzaro entered his first bodybuilding contest, the NPC Natural Bodybuilding Championships. He received that occasion, too, and went on to both win or place 2nd in each pure bodybuilding present he entered from then on over the subsequent decade-plus.

Encountering Kryptonite

By January 2013, Catanzaro began to note one thing was unsuitable together with his physique—very unsuitable. “I got cramps in my left foot every time I began to walk. My whole body started feeling stiff, and I began to feel a slowness on my left side. I knew something was wrong with my body, but I began wondering if something was wrong with my brain.”

Thus started an extended marketing campaign to get a correct medical prognosis. Catanzaro went to physician after physician and neurologist after neurologist, however all of them ascribed his signs to overworking or simply regular getting old. But he knew the medical doctors had been lacking one thing. After all, he says, he’d felt like a veritable Superman most of his grownup life. Now he was feeling very mortal.

Eventually, Catanzaro went to see a movement-disorder specialist on the hospital of Columbia University in Manhattan. After the specialist examined him, she referred to as in one other physician, who did his personal examination. The 2 left to confer, then got here again 10 minutes later with a prognosis: “You have Parkinson’s.”

On the prepare again residence with Tina, Catanzaro did not say a phrase. All he may do was cling his head in despair. “I started to panic,” he remembers. “Honestly, all I could do was cry.”

That sense of doom was lifted a day later when his primary-care doctor advised him the prognosis was unsuitable. But the continued decline in his well being ultimately revealed the reality.

Soon, Catanzaro was having hassle with smaller actions: buttoning his shirt, holding a razor, utilizing a fork. What confused him was that regardless that his physique gave the impression to be falling aside, he was nonetheless in a position to proceed his exercise routine, together with squatting a really difficult 300 kilos.

So he determined to hunt one more opinion, this time from a Parkinson’s specialist. But this doctor, together with the 3 movement-disorder specialists who adopted, had been sure: Catanzaro had Parkinson’s illness.

That sense of doom was lifted a day later when his primary-care physician told him the diagnosis was wrong. But the continued decline in his health eventually revealed the truth.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

The National Parkinson’s Foundation describes the illness in its identify as “a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people.” Damage to or demise of neurons, the nerve cells within the mind, begins off a series of occasions that culminates in Parkinson’s illness. Neurons produce an necessary mind chemical, dopamine. When dopamine ranges fall, irregular nerve-firing patterns emerge that trigger the impaired motion typical amongst folks with Parkinson’s.

Symptoms could come on slowly or quickly, and may range from individual to individual. The impaired actions could embrace tremors, rigidity and/or awkward actions, and issues with steadiness and strolling. It could appear odd, or some type of denial, for Catanzaro to have sought so many 2nd opinions, till you perceive that Parkinson’s illness is extraordinarily laborious to diagnose. This is particularly true with a younger affected person like Catanzaro. After all, Parkinson’s is brought on by the absence of dopamine quite than the presence of one thing, corresponding to a virus, that may be detected.

To date, specialists do not know what causes the nerve demise that results in the drop in dopamine ranges. It does not look like instantly inherited, however it could nicely have a genetic part, because it’s typically present in household clusters. There is not any proof thus far of a single “Parkinson’s gene.” But there’s proof that it could be brought on by genetic mutation.

Living With Parkinson’s

Today, Catanzaro continues to observe his “mind-over-matter” strategy to the illness. “I believe we build our bodies with our minds, not just with dumbbells and barbells.”

He’s nonetheless in a position to carry out all of the weight-training workout routines he may in his prime, continues to coach with weights 4 days per week, and experiments to search out the right combination of macronutrients. Overall, his weight loss plan is comparatively balanced amongst protein (somewhat over 100 grams per day), carbohydrates (150 grams a day), and fats (75 grams a day). In complete, he consumes about 2,000 energy a day, relying totally on pure meals, which he believes are essential in his battle towards the illness.

According to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, “No singular diet can treat Parkinson’s disease or its symptoms.” They go on to say, nevertheless, that “a healthy and balanced diet can improve general well-being.”[1]

The Battle Ahead

In each Superman film, the Man of Steel should cope with the kryptonite that invariably will get thrown into his path. That’s Catanzaro’s mission now, too. “When I first started working out, I wanted to create a smaller version of Arnold, and I believe I succeeded. Now my goal is to stay positive and do everything in my power to conquer Parkinson’s. I will beat it. I will stay positive.”


  1. Good Nutrition for Parkinson’s Patients – More Details | Parkinson’s Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

(Editor references)

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