Boxing helps people with Parkinson's disease find balance and resilience

Woman getting ready to box
Posted at 11:30 AM, May 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-12 13:30:11-04

EAST HELENA — Boxing is a common way for people with Parkinson's disease to "improve their balance, strength, and mobility," according to the American Parkinson's Disease Association.

Peak Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab have classes for Parkinson's clients to help teach them these skills.

"I really had no choice unless I wanted to ignore my disease process, and I didn't want to do that. I'm going to fight it," said Rock Steady Boxer Charlotte Meyer.

She took fighting the disease literally.

Boxing gloves

She joined the boxing classes two years ago, around the same time she was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Meyer said, "I notice if I don't come. My body does not work as well."

"Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system," according to the Mayo Clinic.

Boxing class lifting weights

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease may include tremors, slow movement, impaired balance, and stiff muscles.

"With Parkinson's, we can take medicine, but it only works on our tremors and our other manifestations that we have. So coming here and putting ourselves through here is the only way we can keep those brain connections going," said Meyer.

Meyer's husband, Jim, comes to the Rock Steady Boxing with her.

Boxing class

She calls him her "corner man".

"A corner man is the person who takes care and [is] watching to make sure that everything is going good for their boxer," Jim said.

The couple will be celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary this summer.

The Parkinson's diagnosis has been difficult for him too.

Jim Meyer

He said, "I didn't want my wife to have it. Certainly, I wanted her to be as wonderful as I've always known her to be."

But the Rock Steady Boxing classes have given the Meyer's a sense of community.

Two Rock Steady Boxers

"We are a group that understands what is going on with our bodies, so it's a wonderful support group," said Meyer.

The support is something that Jennelle Day, the owner of Peak Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab and the coach of the boxing classes, has felt for herself.

She said, "Sometimes you try to talk to someone else about it, and they don't understand everything you're going through."

Boxing class lifting weights

Day got involved in coaching the classes after her father was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

He passed away last year, but she has continued to coach.

"Knowing that I can make a difference in what my dad had to struggle with. So, that helps me go on everyday," said Day.

You can find out how to attend these classes by calling 406-502-1799.