Sunday, August 14 2022

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — More than 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year.

Neurodegenerative movement disorder can lead to deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function, and there is no cure, which makes the fight to slow its progression a high priority for the patients.

Roger McCullough of Fort Dodge was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years ago.

“It’s something that just doesn’t go away, and you have to work hard not to give ground,” McCollough told the Fort Dodge Messenger. “You have to move to stay mobile.


He regularly works out with a personal trainer to stay active and he joined the Rock Steady boxing class run at Friendship Haven for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Rock Steady Boxing is a fitness class aimed at improving the daily quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease. It helps participants develop their power, strength, flexibility and speed.

Bringing Rock Steady Boxing to Friendship Haven was a vision for instructors Tori Johnson and Kourtney Condon.

“We went to training in January 2020 and then the pandemic interrupted our plan,” explained Johnson, director of wellness and therapy at Friendship Haven.

Johnson and Condon were finally able to open the class last October. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays at the Schmoker building on the Friendship Haven campus.

“I have a great passion for helping people with Parkinson’s disease,” Johnson said. “I have a good family friend who took a Rock Steady boxing class in Illinois, and that kind of sparked the interest in bringing him to Friendship Haven.”

McCullough said the class was a workout for her body and brain with the exercises and activities the instructors lead. An activity consists of a series of colored papers taped to a wall with the numbers from one to 20 written on them, and the boxer is asked to do different exercises like hitting all odd numbers or hitting all numbers on green paper.

“It focuses on the ability to think of a number at the same time as you count steps, as you throw punches,” he said.

McCullough said he thinks Rock Steady Boxing is a good resource for the Parkinson’s disease community.

“I encourage people to try the program from that perspective and give it time, because most of the time we’re looking for a quick result, and some of these things take months in the process,” he said. -he declares.

“There is such a need for Parkinson’s disease programs and resources in our region,” Johnson added. “It brings that wellness to the whole body and encourages people to fight against Parkinson’s disease.”

Each class begins with dynamic and static stretching before moving on to training. During training they will focus on different areas such as agility, balance, strength, hand-eye coordination and endurance.

“We always end on a high note with our cheers at the end,” Condon said.

Watching the participants’ confidence and camaraderie grow over the past few months has been the best part for Condon.

“It’s really fun to see them as a group working together and encouraging each other,” she said. “They do such a good job of supporting each other and if one of them is having a bad day, they help each other out and let them know they’re not alone in this fight.”

Currently, the class has six participants, but Johnson and Condon hope to accommodate more boxers and add more classes in the future.

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