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Get Fit with 6: Boxing helps Parkinson’s patients

A national gym called Rock Steady Boxing specializes in classes for Parkinson’s patients.
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 4:04 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There are more than 36,000 people in North and South Carolina with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive brain disease resulting from the malfunction and death of vital cells in the brain, known as neurons. The neurons are in a part of the brain that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. The most noticeable symptoms are shaking and tremors.

A national gym called Rock Steady Boxing specializes in classes for Parkinson’s patients.

“Where boxing comes in to hit Parkinson’s at its weakest points, your hand eye coordination, your balance, strength and conditioning, stretching and the comradery is really a big thing for our group,” said Val Von Rupp, Rock Steady Boxing.

There are two locations in Wilmington.

“We hit bags, we have a good time, we listen to music. The music is loud and we’re either playing trivia or cracking jokes or riddles or something to where everyone is having a good time and can kind of forget it for an hour,” said Von Rupp.

Students like Joan Horton agree. She’s had Parkinson’s for eight years. She was intimidated to attend class at first but once she did she was hooked. She has been attending the Rock Steady Boxing center in Wilmington for two years. It helps her improve her balance and the tremors in her hands. “The more aware you are of it the more you can fight it or resist it,” said Joan Horton, Parkinson’s patient.

“It’s a different way for them to retrain their brain. Instead of a doctor or physical therapist telling them how to walk and correct their gait we just come from a boxing standpoint of keep your hands up, keep your hands on your face, fully extend and come back so it’s a different way of making them retrain their brain in a fun environment,” said Von Rupp.

Charles Sturtevant is new to town and one of his first priorities was finding a Rock Steady boxing center.

“It does all the exercises that are very good for people with Parkinson’s You know joint things, stretching, balance,” said Charles Sturtevant, Parkinson’s patient. “When I exercise and do certain things it doesn’t, I don’t have the tremors.”

The classes are different from regular work out classes and are designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients. “Every class has to be different. They fall into a routine especially in their daily lives so when they come to Rock Steady it needs to be different,” said Von Rupp.

While they are working on the physical challenges of Parkinson’s being in the class has also helped them mentally.

“You have to adjust. You’re with it all the time. Parkinson’s there and so I just try to ignore it and do my stuff,” said Sturtevant.

“You forget about everything while you are here. You just enjoy the people that are here. We all have the same thing in common. So, we’re kind of like a family so we support one another,” said Horton.

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