It’s been over a week since you asked me to write a testimonial. “How hard could it be?” I thought. It turns out, very hard. My testimonial is more a love letter to the Coaches Jennifer and Lindsay and my fellow boxers. Yes, Rock Steady has, empowered me, given me some measure of hope. However, given that I had a fairly varied exercise routine before Rock Steady as well as plenty of motivation to “fight back”, I think the program gave me some different and very unexpected tools.

Here’s a list:

First, APPRECIATION. Appreciation that all my exercise efforts were more or less in vain unless I consistently broke a sweat. Yoga and walks around the neighborhood would not raise my heart rate to where it needed to be, nor would they challenge by agility, footwork or cognition. The drills that we do have made me appreciate what it means “to work out” and it feels fantastic.

Second, RECOGNITION. I thought I had learned to listen to my body from years of yoga, but when the insidious aspect of Parkinson’s called fatigue began knocking on my door, I looked everywhere but inside myself. I didn’t want to think of Parkinson’s inevitable progression, but it was pretty remarkable what “doing less” can accomplish. Once it was pointed out that it was okay (and actually helpful, even necessary!) to recover, I could face the reality and ultimately accept that sometimes less is more, sometimes you just need a nap. I learned to give myself permission to REALLY listen and REALLY respond.

Third, INSPIRATION. Doing for others has allowed me to cope with Parkinson’s, but when I began to show symptoms of disease progression, the tables turned. The outpouring of compassion and concern shown by Lindsay and Jennifer and fellow boxers brought me to tears on more occasions than I can count. This compassion, borne out of concern and empathy, is free of pity and judgement but brims with no-nonsense perseverance. To a person, the Rock Steady family inspires me.

Fourth, ENCOURAGEMENT. Jennifer and Lindsay remind us to set ourselves up for success. Another boxer expressed the sentiment that Rock Steady is a place where people are doing something positive about Parkinson’s. These words of encouragement are reminders that I think of nearly every day: “How can I make this task more PD friendly or safe?” or “What can I do to be successful?”

Living with Parkinson’s is tough but encouragement from the Rock Steady coaches Lindsay and Jennifer and other boxers uplifts me and inspires me to press on, push forward, and fight back. PD is insidious, relentless in its demands on our body and mind…but Rock Steady provides a place for us to be, just be. And I love every minute there.

Love, Yvonne


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