Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease, most well known for the tremors it causes in patients. But a local man is trying to prove to the world — and the patients themselves — that they are more capable than they think.
Jim Hall has been a personal trainer for three decades, but his latest venture is focused on helping those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
“People when they get diagnosed with Parkinson’s, are not as limited as the world tends to see them,” Hall explained.
The degenerative disorder of the nervous system causes patients to lose control of their motor functions over time. There’s no cure, but Hall says boxing is as close as it gets.
“Certain conditions, the harder you work, the worse your symptoms get. With Parkinson’s, the harder the boxers work, the better their chance of fighting off, of slowing down the symptoms, of even regression.”
Hall runs a Rock Steady class — a program is specifically designed to help reduce Parkinson’s symptoms through boxing. The international initiative began in 2006 with an Indiana man who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his 40’s. The Rockford location popped up last October.
“Some friends of his said, ‘You should come and work out with us’. Their workout happened to be boxing. And coincidentally, when he did it, after the first few times, they asked how he liked it, and he goes ‘Look at me, no tremor. I’m rock steady.’ That’s where the term came from,” said Hall.
Bill Baskin, a retired doctor, is one of those benefiting from Hall’s class. He was diagnosed 5 years ago.
“(They) said, ‘your case is a little a-typical, but you definitely have Parkinson’s,” said Baskin.
He says he thought his life was over.
“I prepared myself to be an invalid, and have my wife take care of me, and be wheelchair bound, and I was really down in the dumps,” said Baskin.
But he says once he started attending Rock Steady classes 2 months ago, everything changed.
“Strength and balance and coordination have been much, much better,” said Baskin. “Parkinson’s, you feel like you’re shrinking, you’re involuting, you’re getting smaller, you’re getting less powerful, you’re fading away…and this gives you I think part of the psychological part of the feeling of really being able to punch a bag, and hit hard and feel strength and power.”
Hall says his Rock Steady participants are living proof that it’s possible to punch away Parkinson’s. And he hopes they can help break stigmas surrounding the disease.
“It’s not somebody else’s disease, it’s not somebody else’s condition,” said Hall. “It’s not just Michael J. Fox, it’s not just Muhammed Ali, it might be somebody in your neighborhood.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Rock Steady classes, click here.