- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - Don’t ask the boxers in the Rock Steady class to pull their punches.

The four participants were in serious training Thursday afternoon as they worked out in the CrossFit Terre Haute building, where their ongoing fight is against Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement.

Encouraged by Landry Moore, fitness specialist for Union Hospital, the boxers go through a workout that strengthens the whole body and challenges participants to stay active and keep moving.

“A lot of times, when someone gets diagnosed with Parkinson’s, they are warned that they will physically decline and might fall. So, they stop moving, which is even worse for them,” Moore said.

Moore is not a boxer himself, but he enjoyed learning the sport from his father, John Moore, who did spend time in the boxing ring. His grandfather, Tom Moore, was a Golden Gloves boxer in Indianapolis “back in the day.”

“I love the fitness side of boxing, but I never found a program I could do myself,” the fitness specialist said.

That is, until the Rock Steady program was put in place earlier this year. On busy days, eight boxers will move through the workouts, which have been designed for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

On Thursday, Moore was joined by Donna Paul-Bonham, a veteran instructor of Silver Sneakers classes for older people, and others with the Union Health program.

“I love this program,” Paul-Bonham said. “I think it’s fabulous. I’ve had seniors tell me that this program’s activities is what helps them with their Parkinson’s.”

The participants Thursday all agreed.

“It helps by giving you strength, and by giving you balance,” 77-year-old Bob Taylor of Marshall, Illinois, said during a break.

“It keeps me active, and it keeps me motivated,” said Bob Kehrt, 76, of Terre Haute.

Diana Mullins, 66, of Terre Haute, participated in the class as she sat in her walker with a seat. Mullins said the class has helped with her balance and made her arms and legs stronger.

As the youngest class member, and one who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, 60-year-old Bill Cole of Cloverdale said he is motivated to do the stretches, strength training and sparring with the instructors.

“It gives me the chance to battle the disease and hold it at bay as long as I can,” said Cole, who is retired after a 37-year career as a high school band director.

As they shadowboxed, the participants concentrated on their breathing. They had to push air out through their throats and mouths, a task that can become difficult as the disease progresses.

But the class is not all boxing. In fact, they only put on the gloves for a short while after going through several balance and strengthening moves.

Moore closed the hour-long class by demonstrating new moves to be taught next week. They’ll stress how to reduce injury in case of a fall, and how to get up from the floor after a fall.

Participation in the class is through doctor’s order and after an assessment by the instructors.

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Source: (Terre Haute) Tribune Star, https://bit.ly/2mJnk4s

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Information from: Tribune-Star, https://www.tribstar.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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