Punching out Parkinson’s with Rock Steady Boxing

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EASTON — The YMCA of the Chesapeake will offer Rock Steady Boxing at the Easton Family YMCA at Washington to support residents of the Mid-Shore with Parkinson’s disease. “April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and I encourage anyone in our community who is fighting back against this terrible disease to learn more about Rock Steady Boxing,” said Wendy Palmer, Associate Executive Director and Rock Steady Instructor. “We are a close community that is dedicated to helping each other knock out Parkinson’s and look forward to welcoming newcomers. This program is free of charge through donations to the YMCA’s annual campaign. Without the generosity of our donors, we wouldn’t be able to offer these life-changing programs to our members and communities.” Rock Steady Boxing is a national, non-profit organization that gives people with Parkinson’s disease hope by improving their quality of life through a non-contact, boxing-based fitness curriculum. Over the past three years, the YMCA of the Chesapeake has partnered with Lyn Strzempka-Sutton, leader of Rock Steady Boxing-Mid Shore, to host classes twice a week at the Easton Family YMCA at Washington. Since starting its first class three years, ago Rock Steady at the Y has grown from four boxers to more than 15 per class. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rock Steady Boxing has continued virtually twice a week on Zoom. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative movement disorder which can cause deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates there are more than 1 million people in the United States diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and more than 60,000 people are diagnosed each year. Since the 1980s, research has supported the notion that rigorous exercise, emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength and rhythm, may be “neuro-productive,” meaning that it can help slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The Rock Steady fitness curriculum puts this research into practice through adapted boxing drills that condition for optimal agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork and overall strength. Rock Steady is designed fit the needs of men and women of all ages and at all stages of the disease, from those first diagnosed to those who are living with more advanced symptoms.

Roger Eareckson of Trappe is one of the original four YMCA Rock Steady Boxers and has found the program helpful in managing his progressing symptoms. “Three years ago, ’The Fearless Foursome’ began the fight for our lives, trying to keep what we still had and surrender as little as possible to our collective foe – Parkinson’s,” said Eareckson. “My class now has some 15 boxers and more keep coming, even with the pandemic limiting our class structure in the ZOOM boxing ring. We work hard to get the better of this disease, even if only for a short time in class.” He offers the following advice to anyone who has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s: “As soon as your Neurologist/Movement Specialist diagnoses you with Parkinson’s, get enrolled in a prescriptive exercise program, targeted to address PD while your symptoms are less severe than they will become. Participating in a group program like Rock Steady provides camaraderie where we push each other to do our best under the trained, watchful eyes of an instructor dedicated to helping us improve what we can and maintain what we have. We never quit, stay focused and punch out Parkinson’s.” To register for Rock Steady Boxing at the YMCA, email Wendy Palmer at wpalmer@ymcachesapeak.org. For more information concerning Parkinson’s disease, contact the Parkinson’s Foundation at parkinson.org and 1-800-4PD-INFO, or the Maryland Association for Parkinson Support at marylandparkinsonsupport.org and 443-470-0279.