Blog

Jan
21
See a _____, Fill a ______. By Sarrisa Curry

Who We Are

The Parkinson's Exercise & Wellness Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides exercise, education and camaraderie for people living with Parkinson's Disease & their loved ones. Classes are offered 6 days a week with Rock Steady, Mat Pilates, Movin' & Shakin', The Art of Expression and PWR!

Welcome to the first Blog write up for The Parkinson's Exercise and Wellness Center. This Blog will be used to share the incredible stories of Hope and Perseverance of our fighters, caregivers and coaches fighting Parkinson's Disease.

5 short years ago Leslie Stahl shared a deeply personal story on the CBS Morning Show. It featured none other than her very own husband. The video showed him bent over, shuffling, stiff, tremoring, moving slowly and with great effort. She explained that he had Parkinson's Disease. Then they flashed forward to a loud, energy filled boxing gym where the same man, who just frames before could barely move, gliding through punches on mitts, moving quickly and freely around the heavy bag, and making the speed bag sing. It was astonishing, breathtaking and extremely powerful. Everyone who knew anyone with PD had found what their loved one needed! The program was called Rock Steady Boxing. There were only a handful across the United States. Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa- not a single state nearby had a location at that point.

As a boxing Coach, standing at the front desk of Title Boxing club in between classes, I heard numerous calls come in with the same response given- 'No, I'm sorry we don't have any programs for Parkinson's Disease. I'll take your number and we will let you know if something changes." It was a curious inquiry that I didn't fully understand. It wasn't until a few days later when I met the first person with PD I would work with- did i understand the incredible change my life would undergo.

The day came for the first group class. 30 min. 5 misfits with every possible difference you can think of.

One thin, active, younger man with a leg that had a mind of its own. I would learn later this was called dyskinesia.

One with horrible hand tremors but relatively few other symptoms.

One who required a hand on the ropes or his walker at all times to avoid a fall.

One older gentleman who shuffled and had very little leg strength so climbing into the ring was a multiple person task.

One who had few motor symptoms but his family saw the show and he was going to box!!

I took them through a mixture of sports conditioning drills with tape dots and lines to simulate a ladder, weight training, boxing drills in the ring and on heavy bags. Something amazing happened over the next several classes. They changed. They stopped falling and no longer used the walker. They got stronger and their tremor went away for hours at a time. It was literally changing their lives. They told their dr.s, friends, support groups. The word spread. The group grew every week. They fully believed they needed to exercise to feel the best they've felt in years.

4 years later, in a dedicated space called The Parkinson's Exercise and Wellness Center, more than 150 people with PD visit the center each month to participate in exercise classes including Rock Steady Boxing, PWR Moves, Movin and Shakin (Dance), The Art of Expression (theatrical training), Core Stretch, support groups, social events, caregiver programs and more. We needed to offer a space specifically for those affected by the disease. We needed to offer multiple styles of exercise to appeal to as many people with PD as possible.

That is how we started. The need found us. We responded. Along the way, we found something we never knew we needed: to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves, so far outside the realm of SOP it changes the course of life for those with PD.

Keep returning for stories from the fighters, care givers, coaches and medical professionals that will inspire hope and change for a better quality of life with PD.

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Dick Hamill performing jumping jack planks in a Level 1/2 Rock Steady Boxing class.