“I've just gotten stronger. And secondly, it's made me emotionally better,” said Kent, a resident at The Inn on Westport in Sioux Falls, SD who is singing a different tune since overcoming severe symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
When first diagnosed, Kent’s symptoms were relatively mild. Over the course of several years, his physical challenges increased and soon his muscle strength diminished. He began having balance issues, falling down and not being able to get back up.
“And one day during physical therapy, the therapist said that she had seen an advertisement for a boxing program that seemed to show some promise for Parkinson's patients,” said Kent. That program was Rock Steady Boxing.
What is Rock Steady Boxing?
Several communities managed by The Goodman Group offer Rock Steady Boxing, an affiliate program of Rock Steady Boxing, Inc., for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Classes are taught by Rock Steady Boxing Certified Coaches and include an exercise program that is designed to improve quality of life through non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum. Workouts focus on overall fitness, strength training, reaction time and balance.
“Rock Steady Boxing is an intense fitness program geared to those fighting back against Parkinson's disease”, said Lisa, the Rock Steady Boxing program director at The Inn on Westport. “In class we address the symptoms that they deal with [in relation to] their Parkinson’s. You don’t have to be a boxer, we can teach you everything you need to know.”
Parkinson’s affects every patient differently, whether it’s their motor skills, balance, speech or sensory functions. Rock Steady Boxing is designed specifically to help manage those symptoms and even slow its progression.
Parkinson’s symptoms range in severity, so there are different levels of Rock Steady Boxing classes: Level one, for instance, may be appropriate for someone who has been newly diagnosed, is very active or has minimal symptoms. Whereas a level four class is tailored for more advanced symptoms and all activities are tailored specifically to fight back against Parkinson’s.
“So when we have the heavy bags, we're hitting intensely and that's helping with their hand-eye coordination. When we're doing the speed bags, that's helping with their stoop posture and increasing their shoulder and back strength,” said Lisa, listing off a few of the activity stations found in class. Additionally, for people who experience symptoms of rigidity in their hands, there are dexterity stations to improve movement.
From young adults to seniors with symptoms that are mild to debilitating, Rock Steady Boxing is designed to help manage those symptoms at every point in the journey.
Since joining Rock Steady Boxing, Kent has seen dramatic improvements in his symptoms – betterment of strength, balance, coordination, and muscle rigidity.
“When he came in, he was really having a hard time walking in his gait. And about four, five, six months later, his falls had been reduced,” Lisa explained. “He was standing upright. He was walking better and his leg strength improved.”
Lisa says there are dozens of boxers who have experienced significant transformation since the opening of the Rock Steady Boxing Program at The Inn on Westport, which is open to both residents and non-residents.
There are more than just physical benefits, too. Parkinson’s is an emotional battle. With Rock Steady Boxing, not only are the boxers finding joy and confidence in improving their physical abilities, they’re fighting back with others who are on the same journey.
“All I can say is that it's brought about a lot of joy,” adds Kent. “And it sounds kind of corny, but it does make a huge difference to feel better.”
Rock Steady Boxing Classes Across the U.S.
Rock Steady Boxing has grown to over 400 affiliates worldwide. At The Goodman Group, we’re excited to offer the program at several of our managed senior living communities. Click here to find the Rock Steady Boxing program near you.