Have No Fear, Gordon Has Arrived With a ‘Cheesy Cheer’

Jean Mellano avatar

by Jean Mellano |

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Slow is the New Fast

“The camaraderie between the athletes is a joy to behold sometimes, because they all help each other along.” – William Regal

Exercise is an effective way to slow Parkinson’s disease progression and provide symptom relief. In 2017, I began participating in the Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) program and have since written several columns about it. Some of these columns include:

The fun I have taking a class helps me forget for an hour that I have Parkinson’s.

Cheering at Rock Steady Boxing. (Graphic by Jean Mellano)

What’s a ‘cheesy cheer?’

The RSB coaching certification lays out how to build an RSB workout. Later, after a cool-down, every RSB session closes with a “cheesy cheer.” After a challenging workout, and with a great sense of camaraderie, participants gather together in a circle. Each boxer puts their arm in the center in appreciation of a hard-earned sense of accomplishment.

This is one of the class highlights for many boxers. We coaches, volunteers, corner people, and students finish off the class with a “cheesy cheer” in our loudest voices. This ritual may be popular due to the fact that we are tired and thankful our workout is finally over.

More likely, we look forward to the cheer because it motivates us and reminds us that we are all warriors in pursuit of a common goal: fighting this disease together and having fun while doing it.

As demonstrated by two examples of “cheesy cheers” created by fellow boxer Gordon Gagliano, one can see how these chants help motivate us to box another day:

Rock Steady Boxing helps to remind us,

That Parkinson’s doesn’t really define us.

Each session helps us to reclaim more,

Of the persons we are and were before.

Let’s hear it for Rock Steady!”

And:

“When your patience is almost down to the wire,

And your day is becoming a dumpster fire,

Don’t mope or give up hope,

There’s strength and camaraderie at Rock Steady,

For friendship and support,

We’re always ready.”

The origin of Gordon’s ‘cheesy cheers’

In 2017, Gordon was excited to attend his first RSB class in Sag Harbor, New York. What he remembers most about that class was the cheer at the end of the workout.

He told me he thought that RSB is bigger than just the boxers in Sag Harbor. He said he felt connected to other boxers with Parkinson’s across the country and the world. Gordon said he grew teary-eyed when he participated in the “cheesy cheer” during his first RSB class.

After I had taken RSB classes for a few months, our RSB coach, Sensei Michelle, said she was running out of ideas for the “cheesy cheers,” and wondered if anyone else had ideas. Gordon, a self-proclaimed nonwriter and nonpoet, stepped up to the plate and started creating cheers that rhymed.

The RSB coach’s perspective

For several years now, Gordon has never missed out on providing two new “cheesy cheers” per week. Sometimes Sensei Michelle reminds him that it is a special occasion, such as for our 200th Zoom class, and Gordon writes the cheers with that theme in mind.

Sensei Michelle and all the members of the class have a lot of fun with Gordon’s “cheesy cheers,” and they are very grateful for his contributions. Sensei Michelle posts the cheers on a private RSB Facebook group, where they are shared with over 900 affiliate locations worldwide.

COVID-19 can’t dampen our ‘cheesy cheers’

Although our classes are now held via Zoom due to COVID-19, at the end of class, we still reach our arms out toward the cameras of our computer screens. Then, we unmute ourselves and happily chant one of Gordon’s “cheesy cheers” for the week.

“I think we who were in those first Rock Steady sessions share a unique bond. [It’s] unspoken, but nevertheless there.” – Gordon Gagliano

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

Comments

Geoff Taylor avatar

Geoff Taylor

What is Rock Steady boxing? I live in South Africa and we have no support groups for people with Parkinsons. I have been thinking of starting something along this line.
Regards,
Geoff Taylor

Reply
Jean Mellano avatar

Jean Mellano

Hi Geoff, that is unfortunate that there are no Rock Steady classes in South Africa. Perhaps you can contact them directly about setting up a program and become certified as a coach. Is there a local hospital that has a Parkinson's support group you could align with? https://rocksteadyboxing.org/

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Skip Sander avatar

Skip Sander

I was thinking about RSB, when I fell, unrelated to PD, and tore my left rotator cuff. Because of my age (81) and the long, painful recovery from surgery (I had torn my right rotator cuff 15 years ago), I elected NOT to have it repaired. As a consequence, I have very little use of my left arm. Can't raise it above my head, for example. I've been wondering how much this might affect my suitability for RSB. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Jean Mellano avatar

Jean Mellano

Skip,
I am sorry for your injury :-( In May, 2020, I fell of my bike and fractured my elbow, have had 3 surgeries since and I am in PT . However, I still take RSB zoom classes (I just dont punch with my left arm.) There are 2 levels of classes, I went back to the beginning level and many in the class take it seated. Part of the RSB protocol is an evaluation of your physical capabilities and it will be determined which class you would fit in, plus, your doctor must provide written approval with any caveats. I hope it works for you, it is a wonderful program. You can go to https://rocksteadyboxing.org/ to find a class near you and get additional information

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