I wanted to share a Parkinson’s story provided by one of our boxers. At Longevita, we host a program called Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson’s. We have been doing this for two years this month. I have two coaches that run the classes at our Auburn location, Cheryl and Heidi. In addition, we have a handful of volunteers that assist the coaches in every class. The Auburn location is special, as we incorporate the Pilates reformer and the spring boards. We work on strength and posture during the first 30 minutes as a “warm up” using the reformer and the spring board. I have to say that Heidi and Cheryl have the most amazing enthusiam, passion, dedication, sense of humor, encouragement and knowledge than I have ever experienced personally. I have witnessed the positive changes in our participants. Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson’s brings hope and community to people with Parkinson’s, Cheryl and Heidi bring human compassion in every single class. As an owner of Longevita, I am so proud to be a part of this program and so grateful for Cheryl, Heidi and our volunteers. It continually warms my heart and reminds me why I do what I do and what Longevita is all about. Longevita is much more that fitness classes, we go deep and beyond in many areas of our clients’ lives. It’s one of those things that you have to experience it yourself, the strong community we embrace.

Finally, read below the blog post from one of the Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson’s participants:

It finally happened. Parkinson’s disease finally ground my running down to a walk. I really enjoyed my three or four weekly runs down the scenic trail along the wooded banks of the White River. Changing to a new exercise program was a choice not done without reservation.

After contacting Mike Sellars, the operator of South King County Rock Steady Boxing (RSB), I attended an RSB session and I was impressed. The RSB coaches, Heidi and Cheryl, are masters of motivation. They don’t tolerate slackers and, with friendly urging, pushed the boxers to the best of their individual ability. Parkinson’s is a tough opponent and doesn’t yield to a half-hearted effort. Not only did they have a good workout, but the workout was fun too! I told Mike to schedule an evaluation for me and fit me with a pair of boxing gloves.

Rock Steady Boxing is not just pounding a heavy bag for ninety minutes or learning to smoothly hit a speed bag. It’s a whole series of activities to improve your balance, gait, speech, and cognitive abilities. All of the things that Parkinson’s tries to weaken RSB works hard to strengthen. Coach Heidi constantly changes the pattern of the punches to keep us on our toes and mentally sharp. We are coached to loudly count-out punch counts and calisthenic movements to counter PD’s softening of our voices. One moment we’ll be pounding the heavy bag and the next moment we’ll be balancing on a Bosu ball or going through an agility course. And while on the heavy bag it’s not uncommon for coach Cheryl to present a math flashcard to get our minds working between blows.

But what impresses me most about RSB is the sense of community. Yes, we’re all fighting the same opponent. We all have different abilities and rates of disease progression. Persons with Parkinson’s all have one, central overriding need, the need for support. Support from our caregivers, our coaches, our doctors, and, most of all, each other. No one understands PD better than the person with Parkinson’s Disease. Rock Steady fills that need by introducing a framework of community. 

The Rock Steady session begins with the “Question of the Day,” where we answer a random question about ourselves and introduce ourselves to each other. During the “Question of the Day,” Heidi runs us through a series of warm-ups and stretches to prepare us for the coming workout. The session ends with a “Chant of the Day” and a group chant of “1, 2, 3 Rock Steady!” We finish our hard workout by standing as one community against Parkinson’s disease! Building a community is Rock Steady Boxing’s best benefit. RSB takes a group of individuals, all of which have an unusual disability, and builds a supportive community of friends.