Mission: The mission of Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) is to empower people with Parkinson’s disease to “fight back.”
Community Need: Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative movement disorder which can cause deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function. Various studies in the 1980s and 1990s supported the notion that rigorous exercise, emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength, and rhythm, could favorably impact range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait, and activities of daily living. More recent studies, focus on the concept of intense “forced” exercise, and have begun to suggest that certain kinds of exercise may be neuro-protective, i.e., actually slowing disease progression.
It is estimated that there are more than 1 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and more than 60,000 people are diagnosed each year. RSB is the first gym in the country dedicated to the fight against Parkinson’s. In the Staunton-Augusta YMCA gym, exercises are largely adapted from boxing drills. Boxers condition for optimal agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork and overall strength to defend against and overcome opponents. At RSB, Parkinson’s disease is the opponent. Exercises vary in purpose and form but share one common trait: they are rigorous and intended to extend the perceived capabilities of the participant. RSB understands that they are affiliated with the YMCA but hope to be consider as a separate program because their members are not YMCA members. RSB is an affiliate of RSB headquarter and pays a yearly fee to access all their training materials.
Constituents Served: Anyone that has a Parkinson’s diagnosis is eligible for their program. All members have to have a doctor sign off before beginning the program. Their members range in age from 60-84 and hail from the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, and the counties of Augusta, Rockingham, Highland and Rockbridge. There is a monthly fee for all program participants and they do not have to be a YMCA member. They currently have 24 “fighters” enrolled but started in May 2016, with six members. Most participants have never boxed before and all have seen improvements from their program. Of their 24 participants, all have said that RSB has reduced their fatigue and has increased their general mood. One of their participants has had Parkinson’s for 27 years. He has been able to reduce his medication with RSB. Many with Parkinson’s use a walker or are in a wheel chair and RSB wants to add classes for this population. To achieve this goal, they have to double their coaches and need funds for their training. Getting this program started was wonderful accomplishment. In a matter of three months, they created a tight knit community of Parkinson’s fighters who instead of being homebound and feeling depressed, they showed up three days a week to work hard, laugh, share stories.
Primary Activities: RSB offers classes MWF from 10-11:30 a.m. All classes include boxing on heavy bags, speed bags, core exercise and other forced high intensity exercises designed by Rock Steady Trained coaches. Other activities include, interval training, non contact sparring, jumping rope, brain games and dexterity training. They train in a dedicated space across the street from the YMCA. An additional assessment is done at the beginning of the program and at intervals thru out the year.
Amount Requested: $5,000
Operating Budget: $10,686