Although throwing an uppercut might not cure Parkinson’s disease, don’t discount what intense exercise can do for patients.
Rock Steady Boxing, a club that focuses on improving the quality of life for people battling Parkinson’s disease, is hosting an open house from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, May 6, at 404 U.S. 40 in Troy.
The program’s impact goes beyond just a good workout.
“My husband and I were watching CBS this morning and saw Rock Steady Boxing in New York,” said Mary Whitehead, who lives in Granite City with her husband, Mark. Mark has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but instead of letting it disrupt their lives, the two have united to give Mark a chance.
“I’ve been trying to get someone to start one here, and I was excited when I found out that there would be one opening up in Troy,” Mary said. “But my ultimate goal is Granite City.”
Mary and Mark started going to the Rock Steady Boxing in Champaign, Ill., but longed for somewhere closer.
“Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder and there is no cure. It only gets worse,” Mary said. “People affected lose muscle control, but if they can keep moving it helps them physically and emotionally.”
According to Rock Steady Boxing’s website, they are the first gym in the country dedicated to fighting Parkinson’s disease. Drills focus on agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy and hand-eye coordination. Studies have shows that rigorous exercise and balance training could improve the range of motion for those suffering with Parkinson’s. Exercises of this nature have been proven to slow the progression of the disease.
Mary and Mark met in high school, married in 1979 and have been together through life’s ups and downs — and this time is no different. Mary cheers on Mark in everything he does, even if the boxing is non-contact.
“Sometimes Mark has to temper me,” she said with excitement. “I like to make good things happen. We are going to sign up for three sessions a week and we are looking forward to it.”
Mary said people who suspect they have Parkinson’s disease should find a neurologist so they can be properly diagnosed and get the best care.
But if Mark and Mary have learned one thing in their decades of marriage, it’s that nothing can stop them, not even a disease with no cure.