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Rock Steady Boxing offers classes to deal with Parkinson's disease

PHOTO: Boxing gym
Parkinson's boxing classes
Posted at 11:36 AM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 16:53:42-04

"My wife and I both noticed it at home, so we both knew something was going on so it was not a surprise."

David Clemons was diagnosed with Parkinson's about six months ago and like 70% of those with the disease, he started experiencing tremors.

"I know it's with me all day because my left hand shakes a lot," Clemons said.

Fortunately, he discovered Rock Steady Boxing and Head Coach Kristen Phelps.

She develops individualized programs for those with Parkinson's.

"The only way to help slow the progression of the disease and prevent the symptoms from getting worse, is forced, intense exercise," Phelps said. "And that's what we try and do here."

The link between boxing and Parkinson's was discovered about 15 years ago. Phelps says boxing drills address a lot of the symptoms and help with power, strength, flexibility, and speed."

"We do core strengthening, balance exercise, overall strengthening, also cognitive skills," Phelps said.

Phelps says developing a good boxing stance helps with balance, working with heavy bags helps with range of motion, and exercises that cross the midline of the body are good for the brain.

"So right hand to left knee, or you're crossing the body with that cross, we get activation with the right hemisphere and left hemisphere of the brain which is good for them," she said.

"I have to think left and right, and different things to make my body do what my mind says it's going to do," Clemons said.

In just four weeks, Clemons says he can tell boxing is helping.

"I feel more confident in my balance and what I'm doing," he said.

Phelps offers one-hour classes, five times a week. Some exercises include gloves, others do not. She says most people go two or three times a week.

The only requirement is a Parkinson's diagnosis.

"I've had boxers in their 40's up into their 80's," Phelps said. "Anybody is welcome. We can modify up or down as we need to based on where they're at with their progression with the disease."

"I plan to live to be 100 years old," Clemons said. "And I've got a few years to go."

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