Dublin—Jessie Ritter is the program director at Senior Star in Dublin. She's teaching seniors with Parkinson’s disease a new way to fight back— with a non-contact boxing-based fitness class. 

  • Parkinson's Disease affects an estimated 30,000 Ohioans
  • Experts believe rigorous exercise, like boxing, actually slows the progression of the disease
  • An Ohio senior center is putting residents in the boxing ring to give them an improved quality of life

“Rock Steady Boxing has been shown to…well it’s a rigorous type of exercise, very intense, but it’s neuroprotective and has been shown to help either stop some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s or even reverse some of them,” said Ritter.

While the idea came as a surprise to some, she said Senior Star Dublin wanted to do something to improve the quality of life for the growing number of people they see diagnosed with the with Parkinson’s.  

‘I get a lot of shock…bringing boxing to a senior place…people are like “We’re doing boxing here? We’re seniors’… but I’ve seen, where I did training, people in their 90s doing boxing and it empowers individuals and give the people with Parkinson’s a way to fight back,” said Ritter.

Bob Wallace was diagnosed about 8 years ago. He hasn’t boxed since his high school day, but said he’s ready to dust off the gloves and put in the work. 

“Did it make me feel strong? Yes…I’m still pretty strong in my shoulders,” said Wallace, Rock Steady Boxing participant.

The disease has quickly taken away much of his mobility,

“I thought the doctor was telling me a story and then the next thing I knew I was walking on a cane…short while on the cane and then I was on a walker…and then I went from the walker to this,” said Wallace.

But now through this new form of therapy he can take a shot at reversing his symptoms. 

Carol G. is also a fighter. A Rock Steady Boxing participant, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about a year ago. 

“You know why…because it just like hits you. You’re fine one day and then all of the sudden you realize you can’t just get up and walk…you wonder what happened,” she said.

For Carol, the past year has been an emotional one—learning to adapt to her new limitations. 

“Just going for a walk or hopping on a bike…taking a bike ride…you can’t do that anymore,” said Carol

But after seeing the results of what Rock Steady has done for other seniors, she is hopeful it can do the same for her. 

“She says it give her hope but it also makes her mad so it is a way for her to fight back and get that anger out,” said Ritter.

Getting out her frustrations…improving her mobility….and gaining a newfound strength that this disease will not win. 

“We can all fight back,” said Carol.

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