Twice a week for over a year, I have been religiously taking Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) classes for Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Has RSB helped my PD?
I believe that my PD symptoms would be worse or my disease would have progressed more quickly had I not taken these classes. There is no definitive proof of this. My dietary changes and the medications and supplements I’ve taken may have slowed the progression of the disease and prevented new symptoms from appearing or old ones from worsening. Before my diagnosis, I was a trained athlete with well-developed muscle memory, which may explain why I am not worse off now. Perhaps it is a combination of all of these reasons.
Other intangible benefits
Although very elusive, the ability to recapture a few moments of graceful movement and rhythm fills me with joy. A dance teacher once told me, “The good thing about ‘losing it’ is that you ‘had it.’” This gives me hope, and I keep coming back to rediscovering that feeling.
Vulnerability plagues me because I feel PD has made me weaker, but RSB has given me moments of confidence and strength.
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“You don’t appreciate things until they are gone. For me, I miss my friends; I don’t miss boxing, I miss the camaraderie.” —Sugar Ray Leonard
In RSB, the participants relate so well to each other’s triumphs and failures. More than once, I have broken down in tears during class, feeling sorry for myself over what I have lost. Every time that has happened, at least one of my fellow boxers has comforted me, got me back on my feet, and encouraged me to carry on. The empathy is strong among RSB participants and we are always there for each other.
The camaraderie of those classes is incredible. Most of us come to class feeling tired and apprehensive of the workout to come. However, by the time we leave we are all smiling and looking forward to the next class.
What is next for me?
I am so inspired by what RSB has done for my classmates and me, that I have become certified as an RSB coach. When I first started taking RSB classes, my goal was to be the “poster child” for RSB. With the encouragement of my coach, the volunteers, and my fellow classmates, I have completed the certification process. Even if I never teach a class, I believe that taking the course and passing the test makes me stronger and will hopefully provide inspiration to others with PD.
“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” — Conrad Hall
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