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Local boxing class helping participants bout with Parkinson's Disease

Posted at 8:08 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 12:57:52-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A boxing class is helping those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease move a little easier.

It’s being offered at Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers. The class is called ‘Rock Steady Boxing,’ and how appropriate of a name is that for a class that teaches balance and coordination

Instructors say the class is still fairly new, having only been around for the last five years. But the regimen focuses primarily on balance training for those with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s an exercise program based on professional boxer training. Things like stretching, bicycling, jumping rope, push-ups and plenty of non-contact boxing. Class instructors say the course works by having participants move their body in all planes of motion.

“Once your body is working, your brain is not the priority," said Kathy Mielke, Wellness Center Manager. "Your priority goes to the muscles so when we challenge the brain at the same time they’re getting a little fatigued, that helps to strengthen the brain also.”

They also continuously change the routine throughout the workout, so it’s helping out the mind too. The therapy center says recent studies show that intense exercise programs may be ‘neuro-protective,’ helping fight the progression of symptoms.

Those with the wellness center say not everyone who is signed up for the class has Parkinson’s Disease, but rather similar diseases. Larry Byrnes is one of those participants. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015. He said he’s been attending the class since it first started and has noticed some positive changes.

“When you do see your coordination and your strength and your grip improve, there’s an exhilaration there also," says Byrnes. "As Margaret said the camaraderie. You have a bunch of folks who are in the same boat as you and so you commiserate about your situation. The good news is that all of us are here because we don’t want to deteriorate.”

Those with the class also tell me they have had a number of people sign up. Classes are being offered twice a day and you can find more information online right here.