Rock Steady Boxing trains participants to fight back against Parkinsons
COLUMBIA — An exercise program is helping members punch out Parkinson’s disease through boxing.
Rock Steady Boxing aims to delay the symptoms associated with the disease, training its students on motor movement, balance, core strength, and motion with daily living activities.
The Rock Steady Boxing Program was founded in 2006 in Indianapolis when the founder, Scott Newman, saw a decrease in his Parkinson’s symptoms through boxing lessons.
The program began in Columbia with about six participants in February 2016, and now has about 40.
Many of the participants travel from all across the state to come to classes. The classes are centered around boxing, but include other exercises such as battle ropes, ladder drills and speed bags.
Courtney Meyers is one of the certified trainers for the boxing classes and says she’s seen progress in the participants over time.
“Just the way that they present themselves. With Parkinson’s, depression hits and they kind of get in this huge slump,” Meyers said. “I think a lot of times that comes out first. I mean obviously a few of them, their movements are a lot smoother, but I think things like personality and just the way that they act is more noticeable to me.”
With the banter and teasing back and forth between Meyers and the participants throughout class, Meyers says being apart of Rock Steady Boxing is incredible.
“They will definitely brighten up your day, no matter what kind of state you're in,” Meyers said. “They’re great people, a lot of hope and a lot of inspiration so it’s definitely fun.”
Dale Swoboda has been going to classes since it opened in Columbia. He said he struggles with balance and tends to fall down.
“Some days it's great, some days I'm not so great. There's sort of this fear that goes along with walking, thinking that it’s possible that you’re going to lose your balance,” Swoboda said.
He also said he’ll keep coming back, as long as the people are nice and the workouts keep making a measurable difference for him.
“It’s got great promise, it’s good medication and it’s fun,” Swoboda said. “I’ve just had a good time and it feels good to go home after a session.”
Kathy Rinehart- Hansen also began with Rock Steady Boxing when it first began. She has had Parkinson’s for almost 10 years and staying active helps her manage the symptoms.
“It’s energizing,” Hansen said. “I think a lot of people when they first think of boxing or they come and watch, they think ‘ I can’t do this.’ That was my first impression. I came and watched and I thought ‘I haven’t done a plank in, well, 15-20 years.”
She said through the program, her strength and stamina have increased and now she can do a plank.
“It gives you a drive and I think that being around other people with Parkinson’s, it gives you hope. And that’s important. Because if you don’t have hope, you don’t progress,” Hansen said.
The classes take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the MU Human Performance Institute on Peachtree Drive in Columbia.
There are Rock Steady affiliate gyms in 45 states, as well as international locations. Rock Steady Boxing has a goal to have one gym every 30 miles so that Parkinson’s patients don’t need to travel far to experience the program.