Yoga helps. But so does boxing. Whether I’m waiting for a dose of meds to kick in, fumbling to zip up a jacket or passing on the scrambled eggs because the protein will interfere with the next dose of meds, the argh moments of life with Parkinson’s disease build up throughout the day. It’s incredible how the frustration dissipates when I take it out on a punching bag.
Studies show that exercise is beneficial to PD. “Forced” and challenging workouts such as boxing can be even more helpful. According to the Cleveland Clinic, activities such as boxing ease symptoms and are neuroprotective. Besides the tension release and fitness factor, there’s another bonus. Boxing is actually fun. Seriously, try on a pair of boxing gloves and see if you don’t want to take a swing at the bag. Add a coach, some funky music, and a go-for-it attitude and fun permeates the gym.
Rock Steady Boxing, the first gym in the country dedicated to the fight against PD, focuses on the fun while improving strength, speed, range of motion, rhythm, and gait through a boxing regimen specifically for people living with PD. Located in Indianapolis, Rock Steady Boxing offers regular classes as well as training camps for coaches, therapists and personal trainers who want to learn from them and then return home to offer boxing in their areas.
Al Latulippe and Greg Geheb attended the Rock Steady program. Al is a personal trainer from Methuen who works with Greg several times a week helping to ease his PD symptoms.
Greg says that boxing has been “life changing for my fight against PD. My neurologist has said he can just see how much better I look and move. My movements are much more fluid, smooth and my gait is better. I feel better, I have more energy, I have lost weight, I don’t nap as much if at all and it has done wonders for my mental health.”
Greg sums up his Rock Steady boxing method experience this way: “It gives me hope.”
“We are giving the tools and motivation for people with PD to fight back,” Al says. “This is the fight of their life.”
Recently, Al and Greg shared the boxing tools of hope they learned with me. We sweat, we sang, we hit stuff. We hit some more. Add some laugher, a few grunts, and a one or two unexpected successes (I do have rhythm!) and the time flew past.
The rest of the afternoon I felt strong and steady, and surprisingly at peace.
Al Latulippe is eager to work with others interested in learning more about boxing. “We are trying to spread the word to as many people as possible to give a fighting chance.” For more information, click here: APDA/MA Chapter blog