DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - On Friday mornings, the sound of rattling chains holding up boxing equipment inside Southeast Health Neurobalance Center at Rehab East is loud.
Sameka Parks, health fitness instructor, is front and center calling out the exercises for the day’s Rock Steady Boxing Course.
“An hour-and-a-half of fun,” said Parks. “My participants would call it another word.”
After a warmup the real work out begins.
“You put boxing gloves on someone and this fight comes out of nowhere,” said Parks.
Friday’s personal fight for class participants - stop their progression of Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s a lot of hard work and it really gets you going, but with Parkinson’s that’s the secret. You have to keep moving, you can’t stop,” said class participant Kathleen Martin.
Martin was diagnosed with the disease several years. She’s one of an estimated 1 million Americans living with the disease and one of more than 10 million worldwide, according to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association.
The Rock Steady Boxing Course was designed specifically for those suffering with Parkinson’s. Research shows that high intensity movement - like boxing - slows down the progression of the disease.
“This was born from a guy who had Parkinson’s who was very active. Before he knew it, he was not able to move as much. He started working out again. He started to see his symptoms, his tremors, his pain, even some cognitive issues seemed to get better,” said Parks.
Participants move through each station - knuckled fist to boxing bag - fighting.
“If I can get them to catch on that this is just the beginning, I can slow this down, I can get back independence, that gives them the fight. Once they have the fight, I have the tools, we put those two things together - we’re unstoppable,” said Parks.
“When I first learned in the beginning I had it I was so depressed. I though my whole world was coming to an end. When I found out about this, I realized it wasn’t coming to an end,” said Martin.
The physical activity not only provides increased mobility, but participants get their life back.
“We have people who come in in walkers and wheelchairs. Being able to have a neurologist regulate their medicine and have them come in here for the physical therapy wellness program, they’re getting out of their walkers,”said Park.
This is the second week of classes for the Rock Steady Boxing Course. Classes at various levels are offered throughout the week. The course also teaches safety techniques like learning how to fall.
If you or someone you know is interested in the course or any other wellness programs offered, contact 334-673-4167.