Boxing gym helps Parkinson's patients regain agility

A boxing program is helping some patients with Parkinson's regain their agility.

A boxing program is helping some patients with Parkinson's regain their agility.

The Rock Steady Boxing Studio has just 25 members ranging in age from 40 to 85 years old, but there's one thing they have in common: They all have a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, which is a progressive disorder of the nervous system.

"Two fingers started twitching, so I went to the chiropractor and figured I must have a pinched nerve somewhere," said Roger Vanmaanen, a regular at the gym.

Now 61, he was diagnosed 16 years ago. He has a brain stimulator to keep his symptoms in check, but still lost his balance at least once a week.

"I was starting to lose my balance bad enough; I was starting to fall," said Vanmaanen.

He joined the boxing program three months ago and hasn't fallen since.

62-year-old Meldon Kroeger just diagnosed three and a half years ago.

"That's why I’m in the boxing class – to try and maintain where I’m at, because if you once lose it, it's hard to regain it back," said Kroeger.

After just three months, Kroeger has not only maintained, but noticed a difference in his balance, flexibility, and strength.

"We come in with clean clothes on, and you walk out of here sweating. I hate the workouts, but when I’m done with the session I can't wait until I come back in two more days," said Kroeger.

It’s recommended that people living with Parkinson’s integrate regular exercise as a part of their daily life activities. No matter your choice, working up a sweat and releasing tension will help just about anybody.

For many of them, the classes are not just a physical workout. The boxers say everybody here is in their corner; everybody here has the same problem.

With a mural of the image of Muhammad Ali watching on, they continue to fight mentally too.

"When we walk into the gym we're no longer Parkinson’s patients, we're athletes," said Kroeger.

© 2017 NBCNEWS.COM


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