Fight Parkinson’s with Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady BoxingRock Steady Boxing gives people with Parkinson’s disease hope by improving their quality of life through a non-contact boxing based fitness curriculum. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative movement disorder which can cause deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function. Boxing is neuroprotective because of its intensity, attention to spatial awareness, and ability to strengthen.

Rock Steady Boxing, the first boxing program of its kind in the country, was created in 2006 by former Marion County (Indiana) Prosecutor, Scott C. Newman.  He began intense, one-on-one, boxing training just a few years after he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s. In a short time, his quality of life improved dramatically. This inspired him to create this program.

Now, there are over 400 Rock Steady Boxing affiliates internationally.

A Rock Steady Boxing Class

I am fortunate to not have Parkinson’s in my life. Neither myself nor anyone in my family has it. To get more information about what a class would be like, I interviewed Shauna Smith Yates, the Head Rock Steady Coach at The BodySmith.

Before you even take a class, you have to have a diagnosis. Then, you must have an assessment. This assessment helps to place you in a class with people with comparable abilities and challenges. Once you are placed, this will be the class you attend.

From time to time, people have improvements that merit a reassessment. If the reassessment indicates that you need to change classes, that is what you’ll do. Classes are created specifically to address group abilities and challenges, so it is essential that you come to your assigned class.

A typical Rock Steady Boxing class is an hour and a half. You begin with 25-30 minutes of warm-up and mobility exercises. Mobility exercises work on improving spatial awareness.

Next, you do 20 minutes of high-intensity boxing followed by 10 minutes of a circuit. The circuit could include hitting a tire, getting out of a chair, and yelling. (Yelling helps strengthen the muscles used to swallow and also prevents a softening of the voice, which is common in Parkinson’s.)

Finally, there is 20-30 minutes of ab work, stretching, and cool down. The ab work will normally include Pilates work, which also has a reputation of helping those with Parkinson’s.

Perhaps you have noticed that this doesn’t add up to 90 minutes. That’s because it takes time to setup and teardown the activities. This also provides a nice break for participants.

Before attending a Rock Steady Boxing class, make sure your instructor is certified. To find a Rock Steady Boxing class near you, click here.

Rock Steady Boxing Video

In 2015, Leslie Stahl did a piece on Rock Steady Boxing that aired on CBS Sunday Morning. Here it is.

If you have Parkinson’s what do you do to fight this disease? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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