This is firsthand story of Rock Steady Boxing has done for a person living with Parkinson’s Disease.

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease 8 years ago. At that time, my only symptom was a slight finger tremor.  Over time I developed a shuffle when I walk, my gait was very slow, and I seemed to be losing my balance. Although I haven’t fallen due to lack of balance, I find it difficult to ride my bike or climb stairs without a handrail. My handwriting has become so small that even I cannot read what I’ve written. My voice has softened and my cognition has greatly declined. I am no longer able to cut meat with a knife, and find it easier to use a straw when drinking any beverage. It is difficult for me to coordinate my body movements to get into bed and cover myself with a blanket.

A year after diagnosis I began an exercise program in my home, using a treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike for an hour 4 times each week. I slowly added hand weights and stretches which were given to me by my chiropractor. This continued for 6 years. My neurologist labeled me as “stable”, attributing most of my stability to my exercise routine, but I was not seeing any improvement, only a slow decline in my abilities. In addition, I began feeling isolated, as if no one really understood my life, except my wife.  

7 months ago Rock Steady Boxing opened a chapter in East Rochester, called Fighting Chance. I immediately signed up after reading of the benefits others had received from participating in this type of program. I attend class twice each week and for an hour we undergo intense physical training. The classes are never the same. We participate in weight and strength training, agility, games to improve our cognitive abilities and fine motor control exercises, and of course boxing!  

The improvements I have experienced are so very encouraging! My balance has improved, my gait is now fast enough to satisfy my wife, who loves to get out there and power walk, and I now only shuffle my feet if I’m extremely tired.  When I started Rock Steady I found I simply could not hop or jump, as if my feet wanted to move, but were stuck in cement. I can now hop 4-5 times in a row before having to stop and collect myself, ready to hop a few more times.  Lastly, the social aspect of this Rock Steady group is terrific; being in a group of people who totally understand my abilities and my limitations, each of us encouraging the others to keep going and do their best.”

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