Rock Steady Boxing in Melbourne is here to help during Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Members hit the bag during a Rock Steady Boxing class at Unlimited Kickboxing in Merritt Island

April is here and it is Parkinson’s Awareness month.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative, neurological disease that has no cure and affects nearly 1.5 million people in the United States.

For some unknown reason, the brain begins a decline in production of a neurotransmitter called “dopamine,” which is responsible for brain-to-muscle communication.

The result is a loss of motor and non-motor function. When a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, they usually have already lost 70-80% of the normal levels of dopamine.

Current treatments include medication, surgical treatments such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), and lifestyle changes including exercise, diet and emotional support.

Rock Steady Boxing, Inc. was co-founded in 2006 by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott C. Newman (who is living with PD) and his friend, boxer Vincent Perez.

The seed for what would eventually become Rock Steady Boxing was planted when Perez began one-on-one  training with Newman a few years after his diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson’s at age 40.

They witnessed the dramatic improvement in his physical health, agility and daily functioning through the powerful, high-energy workouts.

Newman’s quality of life improved dramatically. Several medical studies on exercise and Parkinson’s have concluded that moderate to high intensity exercise can slow the progression of Parkinson’s.

When exercise pushes or forces someone out of their comfort zone, it’s called “intense forced exercise,” you get the best results.

I opened Rock Steady Boxing at Advance Fitness Melbourne in 2018, and in June 2023, Rock Steady Boxing became a non-profit.

I started with four clients and now have more than 70. Rock Steady Boxing offers nine classes a week with all levels of Parkinson’s.

We give hope by improving their quality of life through a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum.

This includes balance, cardio, strength training, bag work, calisthenics and core training.

Each session begins with stretching, then heavy bag boxing using combinations of the four common punches.

We mix up these combinations, which help them improve their cognition, hand eye coordination and proprioception (your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location), which is so important due to Parkinson’s taking away this natural ability.

After the bag work, we move on to our circuit training and end with more stretching.

Rock Steady Boxing at Advance Fitness has been expanding to become a Parkinson’s Activity and Resource center for the clients and their families.

We offer Tai Chi and Dance S.T.E.P.S. classes, a PD support group every Wednesday, and a Care Partner support group the last Thursday of the month.

For more information, call me at 321-693-9246.

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