This video shows a gym full of boxers who all use the exercise to fight Parkinson’s disease.
Rock Steady Boxing helps people living with Parkinson’s workout and fight back.
Philip Ritchy, 32, head coach at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics in Huntersville, North Carolina, USA, said: “They’ve found that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is extremely beneficial for a Parkinson’s patient.
“But when you think about Parkinson’s, they’re unstable on their feet, so it’s difficult to have them do a burpee.
“With boxing, anybody can stand in front of a bag, hit it and work on hand eye coordination and it’s a great way to safely raise the heart rate.
“It works tremendously for their range of motion, strength and confidence in walking.”
Boxers get their heart rates up doing pad work, throwing battle ropes, and hitting bags.
Philip became a Rock Steady Boxing affiliate and brought it to Huntersville five years ago after hearing about it from a friend whose father has Parkinson’s.
“Rock Steady Boxing is a worldwide organization that caught our eye,” he said.
“It was really important to me that we had a unique program geared towards seniors in our community and was something we could be proud of.
“Rock Steady Boxing was a good impression of that.”
The classes are open exclusively to those with Parkinson’s.
“We keep it to just folks who have Parkinson’s, so everybody is fighting the same fight,” Philip said.
“I think that’s one of the most empowering things: we’re all fighting and we’re all boxers.”
Boxers range from 32 to 91-years-old and are all at different stages of Parkinson’s.
“There’s some folks in a wheelchair but the bags are long enough that they can sit and still box, get their heart rate up and work on that range of motion,” Philip said.
“We may have modifications where we sit or lean against a wall or have something to help us balance, but we’re still working our tails off.
“It’s like, let’s go, we’re going to fight back against that disease.”
Philip said the response from boxers has been amazing.
“I’ve had boxers tell me ‘my doctor said I’ve gotten so much better and if I didn’t know you I wouldn’t know you had Parkinson’s’ and then they start crying,” he said.
“I had a boxer come up to me after class today and tell me he loved me, and he was going to fight this until he dies and can’t wait to fight it with me.
“It’s truly a special relationship to be able to watch those successes.”
The boxers have also developed close relationships with each other.
“It really has become a family and we’ll have family conversations of ‘hey I’m scared, I have a surgery coming up or I have new medication,’” Philip said.
“The camaraderie in being with a team that has the same issues and being there for each other is really what I think makes Rock Steady a unique experience for folks with Parkinson’s.”