Mary Kay, Veteran & Valley Women Opening Parkinson’s-Specific Exercise Facility with two goals in mind: Consistency & Connection.

An interview with Mary Kay, Veteran & Valley Women Opening Parkinson’s-Specific Exercise Facility with two goals in mind: Consistency & Connection on February 25, 2024 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.



Mary Kay Junis is a strength & conditioning coach for seniors and adults with PD. Originally from Chicago, she moved to the valley after a military mobilization in 2021 and has been enjoying her time connecting with the community. Mary Kay recently launched Chrysalis Personal Training LLC, a Parkinson’s-specific exercise organization centered around community and connection.


Please tell me a little about your background.


I’m currently serving in the U.S. Military and hold certifications in Strength & Conditioning for Seniors, Personal Training, Aqua Progressions, Indoor Cycling, Group Exercise, and Parkinson’s Exercise.


Can you tell me more about your organization?


I started Chrysalis to give adults with PD a chance to ditch the bright fluorescent offices and overwhelming community centers for a few hours to enter a comfortable, judgment-free fitness community tailored to their needs. While fully supporting the medical needs of each individual, I like to look at Chrysalis as a compliment to providers and therapists.





What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?


I truly believe that people aren’t given another day for themselves. I think that we get another day because someone else in this world needs to experience something that we offer. Even if it’s a simple kind gesture or word. While training clients of all ages and backgrounds, I was given the opportunity to work alongside adults with PD. This absolutely lit me up inside. Seeing PD clients regain functionality and confidence is something that I never want to lose.




What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?


Client goals vary depending on how far their symptoms have progressed. Most early-diagnosed clients come in looking to work on slowing down symptom progression while gaining overall strength and balance. Later-diagnosed clients typically want to gear their training toward improving balance, cognition, and functional abilities.


What type of training and how long are the programs?


I offer private training sessions and group classes. Private trainings are tailored to the individual’s need and follow a more in-depth approach. Group classes are designed to keep each person consistent in their exercise and wellness needs. Monthly memberships allow each person to take 3 classes each week!


What effect can it have on an individual with Parkinson’s?


The positive connection, support, and exercise at Chrysalis can benefit an adult with PD in so many ways. As we know, the mental stimulation that comes from positive social interactions has great effects on the brain and body. Exercise is also shown to instigate positive change in adults diagnosed, allowing them to sustain functionality and independence as long as possible.


What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?


Currently, I’m looking for a suitable location to house our community and classes… So that is a huge goal of mine! Aside from that, I would really love to grow my classes, community outings, and partners! I am always looking to provide more resources.


What events do you participate in?


I attend local Parkinson’s awareness conventions, discussions, and events. I would love to work alongside more organizations to spread the information!


How does this also assist the caregivers?


Caregivers are given the opportunity to sit in on classes and are provided resources that can aid in their position. Caregivers are family too! I would love to see each one at community gatherings and events.


How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?



Instagram: ChrysalisFit.Pt

Facebook: Chrysalis Personal Training LLC

How can others also become advocates for awareness?


People can assist in advocacy and awareness by spreading the word about Chrysalis and organizations like it. Donating to their local PD organization can help more than they think as well! I feel that the KEY to true advocacy is to be willing to understand the cause and the people affected most. With an open mind and willingness to connect, we can make a change.


How can we better fundraise to support a cure for Parkinson’s?

I think that connecting with younger wellness professionals could be a great way to expand general knowledge on Parkinson’s Disease and support research.



Why should people who don’t have Parkinson’s care about this? 


PD and its symptoms affect so many people and their families. We should all be more knowledgeable on how to support those around us and navigate the diagnosis if need be.


Have you had any family members or relatives affected by Parkinson’s disease?

My Papa (grandfather) was diagnosed with PD. Watching him and my grandmother go through this was a huge lesson in togetherness for me. The appointments, prescriptions, and symptoms had to be so very difficult to navigate around, yet all ll that I saw was love.


If you had one song that would tell us more about you or represent your life, which song would it be?


Good Old Days- Macklemore


If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?


Everyone talks about the “good old days” and how they wish they could go back and appreciate what they had. I think we’re living in those moments right now. Do things that bring you joy even if it’s a bit harder than it used to be. Tell people you appreciate them in the moment. Share your story, someone needs to hear it.