By Amy Schechter
Over an estimated 10 million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a chronic, progressive neurological condition marked by instability and uncontrollable tremors. Currently, there is no cure for this affliction and treatment options aim at managing its symptoms. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be frightening and disheartening to say the least, but it does not need to slow you or your spirit down. The men and women who work out with Rock Steady Boxing in Fishhawk are a testimony to the courageous spirit of the Parkinson’s community.
FishHawk resident Kathy Glazewski, once a special education teacher, is now a teacher of a different sort. She is a certified personal trainer with a special heart for those with Parkinson’s and uniquely qualified to help them push beyond what they and their families may think they can do. Just like the ending to each class, Glazewski believes, “Hope is in our corner; tough love on our side. That feeling we have is Rock Steady pride.” A national organization, Rock Steady Boxing was founded with the goal to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s by empowering them to fight back.
Each class follows a format of stretching, cardio, strength, and boxing routines. Although cardio may be difficult, Glazewski makes it fun and thematic. In February, she used a relay race format that required participants to balance Valentine’s candies on a spoon and transfer them from one side of the room to the other. As she listed the rules, “No pushing, no tripping, no shoving,” it was hard not to smile when participants whispered, “Don’t take the fun out of it.”
She followed this with breathing exercises where clients used straws to suck up a candy and transfer it from one plate to another. “Breathing is important. We need good lung capacity,” Glazewski called out as she assisted a gentleman who was struggling. After that, participants used light weights for interval strength training in their arms and legs, which Glazewski varies from week to week. Perhaps the most exciting part though, are the boxing drills. Participants combine cardio, footwork, and bag work to attack their goals, and everyone leaves tired, but with the knowledge that they can do anything they put their minds to. Even those for which the disease has progressed can still participate with the help of a spotter, like the husband whose wife lovingly helps him through every movement.
Besides the physical goals, Rock Steady Boxing is about community. Steve Chapdelaine, a boxer, shares, “There’s a big community worldwide, but there aren’t many support groups. This creates an atmosphere of support for each other. We share experiences.” The boxers ranging in age from their fifties to their eighties, but each understands one another. When with a sparring partner, they know when to push and when to hold back. They know there are good days and bad days, but the confirmation that there are others out there to pick you up when you get knocked down makes all the difference.
Rock Steady Boxing in Fishhawk wants to extend an open invitation to those in the community living with Parkinson’s as well as their families to join them inside Fishhawk Martial Arts Academy, 15272 Fishhawk Blvd, Lithia. Also, if you would like to donate in some way to this worthy cause, your gift would be appreciated.
For information on days/times, call 908-415-0944 or visit fishhawk.rsbaffiliate.com/ or their Facebook page facebook.com/rocksteadyfishhawk/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.