A world-renowned bodybuilder from Ozone Park is showing the world that Parkinson’s disease does not have to take away your body and mind, by combating his diagnosis through a drug-free and spiritual approach.
Anthony Catanzaro, the man known in the bodybuilding world as “The Superman of Fitness,” began working out at the age of 15 while being inspired by the larger-than-life characters in the WWE (formerly known as WWF) like “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, he said. He wanted nothing more than to emulate their bulky bodies and natural charisma, and found the way to achieve that through bodybuilding.
He began competing in 1996 when he won the Mr. Fitness International and several natural bodybuilding contests such as The NPC New York State Championships. He earned the moniker “The Superman of Fitness” from shooting his fitness DVD series called Tony C’s Pure Power (Positive Energy from Within).
Catanzaro was living his dream, working on his body, winning fitness and bodybuilding awards, and helping others achieve their fitness goals. That all came to a halt in 2015.
After suffering for two years with strange symptoms like body stiffness that progressed every few weeks, Catanzaro went to his doctor, who also could not figure out what was wrong with him. Baffled as to what was causing these symptoms, Catanzaro went to see a movement disorder specialist at Columbia University in Manhattan, who told him that he had Parkinson’s disease.
“Having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s was a complete shock and it devastated me mentally,” Catanzaro said. “I still can’t believe it to this very day and I choose not to because I always believed that you become who you believe you are and I do not believe I am sick; I believe that I am a little out of balance at this time and I will return back to good health when God grants me that wish.”
When people hear Parkinson’s disease, it conjures up images of actor Michael J. Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali, and their shaking limbs. But when the disease affects people Catanzaro’s age — he is only 46 — it can damage the body in different ways.
“People think that Parkinson’s is a shaking disease, although it is in some people, it isn’t in others,” Catanzaro explained. “The stiffness and slowness I have is completely debilitating. I have difficulty with the simplest tasks like showering, shaving, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, getting dressed eating, et cetera.”
Parkinson’s disease has also forced Catanzaro to shut down his personal fitness studio in his home where he has trained clients for over a decade.
Although Parkinson’s has taken away so much from him, Catanzaro believes his diagnosis now gives him the chance to show people that you can beat this disease without the help of drugs. Even though there is currently no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, he wants to fight it at its core, and not just treat his symptoms with drugs that often can have side effects that are worse than the disease itself.
“My goal is to heal the disease with a body, mind and soul healing, which I believe is the cure to any ailment,” Catanzaro said. “I believe that the body can heal itself when we are in a calm, happy and peaceful state. Disease is brought on by stress, and I was experiencing a lot of that prior to my diagnosis.”
Catanzaro wakes up every morning and does Qi Gong exercises and meditation to cleanse his organs of any toxins, he said. Since his diagnosis, he has regained his senses of smell and taste, and has a healthy glow about him. He said his blood work is also quite good, which he believes proves that his method is working.
“It’s extremely difficult to deal with it beats you down physically, mentally and spiritually,” he said of Parkinson’s disease. “But just like any other disease, you must fight it with positive thinking. I keep saying to myself that this happened for a reason. God has blessed me my entire life so I feel that as hard as it is to believe, Parkinson’s may turn out to be a blessing.”
Catanzaro and his wife, Tina, have established a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of his healing therapies, the now necessary home safety modifications, and to help him and Tina with the ongoing medical costs and living costs and to be able to stay in their Ozone Park home.