Boxing against Parkinson’s disease

Sunshine Coast Boxing Club

At the Sunshine Coast Boxing Club (SCBC) in Gibsons you can often see an older gentleman hitting the heavy bag, working with the coaches on hand pads and using the various pieces of exercise equipment.

His name is Brian and he has Parkinson’s disease.

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Why would Brian join the boxing club as a fitness member?

Brian, who is an inspiration to many at the SCBC, said he joined the club last October about nine months after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by tremors, rigidity or both. Movement is often difficult and slow, and it can be painful,” said Brian, who is 67. “Exercise, and especially activities such as boxing or dancing that require rhythmic movement directed at a target such as a punching bag or hand pads (not a head!), are very helpful in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s.”

Brian said the benefits have been unmistakable.

“Since starting boxing I have noticed significant improvements in my balance, strength and energy levels. For instance, in the last three weeks, I have split and stacked by hand three cords of firewood. Not bad for a ‘Parkie’ who just a year ago thought there was nothing more to look forward to than life in a wheelchair,” he said.

“The good days are more frequent than the bad ones now and I look forward to my boxing lessons. It is a hobby I will continue not just because of the Parkinson’s but because it’s fun and I feel great.”

Club founder Rick Shannon said boxing-style exercise supports the Parkinson’s person by enhancing their agility and hand-eye coordination and improves their fitness level, which slows down the effects of the incurable disease.

In the last decade, many boxing clubs have began to offer programs for Parkinson’s persons as influenced by the Rock Steady boxing program started in Indianapolis in 2006.

There is now an organization sharing this program throughout North America. See www.rocksteadyboxing.org for more information.

Shannon said he sees a need for such a program on the Sunshine Coast and that he would like to become a certified Rock Steady program coach to complement his other boxing certifications. He said he hopes to offer fitness programs at the boxing club to Baby Boomers and seniors when he himself retires from his millwright position at Howe Sound Pulp and Paper in a few years.

The Sunshine Coast Boxing Club is located in Andy’s Plaza, 851 Gibsons Way. Contact Randy Hollett at 604-989-5180 for information regarding the boxing club.

– Submitted

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