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Rock Steady Boxing coming to YMCA

Class will begin in February

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
“Rock Steady Boxing” participants from the Mason City YMCA practice an agility drill during a session recently. The Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA will be offering RSB beginning Feb. 10.

By MIKE DONAHEY

and LANA BRADSTREAM

TIMES-REPUBLICAN

People with Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder which affects movement, asked the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA to help and the Y responded in kind.

Beginning Feb. 10, the Y will offer the clinically proven Rock Steady Boxing to those fighting the insidious disease.

“We are expanding the evidence-based health intervention programming offered at the Y by adding Rock Steady Boxing,” Health and Wellness Coordinator Keisha Lockhart said Friday.

She is initially expecting five to 10 students, but knows the class has the potential to be larger.

“The Y wanted to respond to this community need after we were approached by a group of people who were interested in starting up the program locally,” she said. “The Y has received some donations to aid with start-up costs, but the Y is also sharing in this expense. RSB fits with the Y’s mission.”

Marshalltown residents with Parkinson’s disease were traveling to Grinnell to participate in a Rock Steady Boxing class and retired teacher Dennis Eige, 69, was one of them.

Eige was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007 when he noticed shaking on his right side. When the neurologist told him that there was an 80 percent certainty that Eige had Parkinson’s he did not want to admit it, and insisted he belonged in the other 20 percent.

“I did not want to do anything about it,” he said. “After six months of the progression of the shaking I went back to the neurologist and I told him that I might be a candidate for the disease.”

Since then, Eige has slowed the progression of disease but it has not ceased.

“It affects different people in different ways,” Eige said. “Some people, their muscles get rigid and it is hard for them to get around. Some people start shaking. Some get cognitive interference.”

He visits a neurologist every six months who told him exercise was one of the best ways to slow the progression.

Eige will most certainly participate in the Marshalltown Rock Steady Boxing class, saying the Grinnell sessions helped improve his balance and his strength.

Although he will miss the commute to and from Grinnell. Going down there every week was something that helped strengthen the bonds between him and other Marshall County residents who also suffered with Parkinson’s.

“We enjoyed each other’s company,” he said. “Socializing is just as important exercising. We became a support group.”

However having the class in Marshalltown will negate the dangerous winter driving conditions they faced. Plus, it will bring more people in as word of the class gets around.

Eige said he has seen the benefits of the class help him and others navigate day-to-day living. Simple tasks a lot of people do on a daily basis can be more challenging for those with Parkinson’s disease.

“Putting on socks or a jacket, simple things that you take for granted, become more complicated,” Eige said.

He does not want people to feel embarrassed about the disease, and he hopes society can become more tolerant of it. People with Parkinson’s might move slower because their ability to do things is impaired.

“One thing that is a big problem with this disease is that people isolate themselves,” Eige said. “That is a progressive, downward spiral that is hard to shake by yourself. With friends, family and a tolerant society, people are able to get along.”

ROCK STEADY BOXING

Rock Steady Boxing is a program specifically designed for those with Parkinson’s disease.

The class places emphasis on exercises and activities to improve agility, endurance, balance, hand-eye coordination, and strength.

RSB classes will meet at the YMCA-YWCA at 11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

A website — www.rocksteadyboxing.org — includes lists of studies surrounding the program. 

For more information contact Lockhart at 641-753-8658 or keisha.lockhart@ymca-ywca.org