Uses Boxing to Help Parkinson’s Patients Fight Their Way Out of the Corner.
By Renee Williams


“I have no choice about whether or not I have Parkinson’s.
I have nothing but choices about how I react to it. In those choices, there’s freedom to do a lot of things in areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise found myself in.”

– Michael J. Fox.

Affecting over 5 million people worldwide, Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder that causes the decrease of dopamine, often characterized by symptoms such as slowed movement, tremor and rigidity.

Carolyn McCoy, Certified Personal Trainer with South Aiken Physical Therapy is helping those with PD live the healthiest and happiest life possible, while the fight to find a cure is ongoing.

Carolyn knows If PD and its symptoms are not met with resistance, the disease will likely take the path of least resistance and progress more rapidly so she trained for Rock Steady Boxing, a non-contact boxing wellness program and safe haven for people with PD.

“One of the things that inspired me most about the training was the Rock Steady boxers themselves,” Carolyn says. “During the training we were inundated with a great deal of information about PD and the correlation between boxing skills and how they addressed specific symptoms of PD…

It was when we participated in a workout that the boxers go through that I experienced the intensity and physical demands of boxing.

We then assisted in two different levels of PD boxing classes. When faced with a disease that was fighting to take control of their bodies, the Rock Steady boxers literally “fought back” with every inch of their being.

I have seen many people over the course of time faced with illnesses and setbacks and some choose the path of acquiescence and wave the white flag of defeat. The Rock Steady boxers I witnessed…were not going down without fighting back with every inch of their heart and soul.

This is one of the most important things I learned: Disease does not define us as a person. It is something that we carry, perhaps setting some boundaries, but we do not have to let it overtake our mind, heart and souls. We can fight back and live full and joyous lives.”

At RSB, PD is the opponent. During a typical RSB class, attendees punch speedbags or an inflatable dummy, hit balloons to keep them in the air, stretch or work on foot and leg movement.

Carolyn says, “Some of the positive changes we have already seen in our boxers are increased strength, increased boxing specific skills such as eye-hand coordination with speed bags, improved core strength and posture. There is also a camaraderie among the boxers and true care for each other beyond how PD’s has affected their bodies.”

Carolyn adds, “We are currently in our second round of classes. As long as there are openings, we accept new boxers in on an on-going basis. There is always a need for volunteers. If you are searching for a very rewarding experience, please call us to find out how to join this program both as a boxer and volunteer. South Aiken Physical Therapy & Wellness can be reached at (803) 649-9797.

The RSB logo is the Statue of Liberty embellished with a boxing glove. RSB’s founder Steve Newman has said, that the inscription on the Statue of Liberty combined with the hope she symbolizes echoed his dream that RSB would be a beacon of light and hope for those suffering from PD.

This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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