By Deb Helfrich, Co-Founder and Director of Wellness Research of Out-Thinking Parkinson's.
I had an amazing afternoon learning boxing at Rock Steady Boxing Seattle and the best part of the whole process was the support that all the participants gave to each other.
I met the owner, Karen Johanson, via LinkedIn, and since I live in Seattle, and have an interest in exploring all avenues to help People with Parkinson's, I sent her an email and asked to meet. She was very welcoming and I offered to show up and volunteer in anyway needed so I could get an in-depth understanding of what a class entailed.
Find info about classes at www.rocksteadyboxingseattle.com
It was a hard workout. It was tailored to a wide range of levels of participants, but everyone really pushed themselves to their own limits and worked up a sweat. The class started with some standard warm-ups like jumping jacks and lunges and then there were some exercises focusing on footwork. Then people partnered up and put on the boxing gloves provided by the facility in Factoria and went to the large hanging bags to do some boxing. There were a few break periods as they went through some serious drills and they even all took a few goes at the punching dummy – Bob.
After taking off the gloves section of class focused on strength building with a 6ft PVC pole that was used in a sequence of around 8 different moves and they ended up with some partner situps, just to finish off with some core strength moves.
Karen's father had PD and for a long time she didn't equate him with the woman she saw in church who had a great deal of tremors. But during one stretch where her mom got sick and she needed to pitch in, she got a first hand look at the difficulties of his day and she started doing what a lot of people do when confronted with the fact that someone they care about has PD – she started researching.
Karen intends to grow her business over the long-haul into a wellness center serving a lot of needs of the PD community. As she progresses find out more at: www.beat-pd.com
She has a background in cardio kickboxing and muay thai boxing, so the research about the importance of exercise stuck with her until she went to a conference and saw the hashtag - #rocksteady. She got excited and went to Indianapolis to complete the certification and has been building her business ever since.
Boxing helps with core rotation, strength, and flexibility and pairs the boxing moves with an emphasis on footwork. Karen put a great deal of focus on balance – so crucial for PwP's – and a basic principle in boxing because getting hit is famously likely to knock one off balance. Another important point is that during the boxing sequences, the participants call out sequences of punches which helps with memory and using ones voice loud enough to be heard over punches and jangling chains.
We will be incorporating what I learned into Gary's own bespoke movement and balance recovery regimes.
Karen and Rock Steady Boxing Seattle was recently featured on Evening Magazine click here to get to see a fabulous segment and get a feel for the classes themselves.
I want to thank all the participants in the class on April 3rd : Gary, Fred, Goeff, Mike, Chris, and Cheryl for showing me what a great group of people can do when they show up to take responsibility for their wellness by keeping active and vital.