“Where’s the noise, folks?” Kathy Rinehart-Hansen yells out as she pounds her red gloves into her opponent, punch after punch, hook after hook, with increasing force. The crowd erupts into cheers.
“You got this, Kathy!”
“Knock ’em down!”
Onlookers half expect the bell to ring and the announcer to shout “knockout,” but this isn’t a contact sport. And these aren’t your typical boxers.
Kathy is boxing against a 100-pound punching bag as a part of Rock Steady Boxing, a program specifically created for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The goal of the program is to improve quality of life through the use of a noncontact boxing-based fitness curriculum. Rock Steady Boxing, which was founded in 2006, is the first and only boxing program of its kind in the United States. It was introduced to mid-Missouri in February 2016 by MU Health Care and has grown in popularity ever since.
“Exercise is one of the only ways to reduce the effects of Parkinson’s disease,” says Courtney Meyers, personal trainer at MU Health Care. “We have a lot of participants come in that are eight to 10 years into their diagnoses. What we’re seeing with Rock Steady Boxing is that participants are either staying consistent or even improving performance at their six-month evaluations.”
Why boxing? Meyers says punching helps steady tremors and improves focus. Supplemental exercises improve balance, coordination and flexibility — all things that benefit the daily lives of participants.
Rock Steady Boxing classes are offered twice a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and boxers can attend as many sessions as they want. Classes are $10 per session, or $50 per month for unlimited sessions. All Parkinson’s disease patients are welcome to attend with physician referral. For more information, contact Mizzou Therapy Services at 573-884-2642, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.