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Boxing Club focuses on fighting Parkinson's Disease

Posted at 9:45 AM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 18:18:45-05

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — Boxers are at Rock Steady Boxing in Papillion are not your typical boxers.

They don't compete, but they do fight. The group of about 14-16 individuals is fighting Parkinson's Disease, also known as PD, a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors. PD affects more than one million people in the United States and can eventually cause stiffness or slowing of movement and speaking.

There is no cure for the disease, but research shows exercise helps push through the symptoms of PD that can often help delay the disease.

The group meets twice a week at the Papillion Landing Field House. The boxing classes started being offered there about a year ago through the Rock Steady Boxing group. The one in Papillion is an affiliate of the club, one of more than 700 affiliates around the world. There are two other locations in the Omaha metro, one in Elkhorn and the other in Omaha.

The one in Papillion is co-owned by Rick Rogers, who has been dealing with PD for nearly 11 years.

"The number one thing they tell you to do with Parkinson's is to exercise. There's a medication that helps but exercise gives you more agility, more power, more strength to push through the symptoms," said Rogers. "And here it's great because you're getting together with people who are going through the same thing as you and knowing you're not going through alone, gives you a boost and gives you hope."

The class is led by Coach Mark Johnson, a former boxer and longtime boxing coach. He completed his Rock Steady Boxing certification in 2017.

"This is my boxing team and each one of the fighters has different things, different characteristics and I try and work with them in that context of developing their skill, quote on quote, as well, helping them with their coordination and movements," said Johnson.

The class focuses on both physical and mental skills. Training begins with a general warm-up, then go into boxing training. They don't hit each other, but work on agility and power skills on the bags and using mitts. They also do a cardio workout using weights and other exercise equipment that focuses on strength. They will finish the class by throwing around a basketball and calling out each others names or different colors, which focuses practicing memory.

"A left jab is a left jab and a right jab is a right jab. You still need to throw correctly and I think that's where boxing benefits people with Parkinson's because you have that movement and it's not just a random movement," added Johnson. "You have to focus and concentrate and execute on every hit."

The cost to classes is $40/month for one class or $60/month for both weekly classes. Classes are Mondays and Wednesdays from 12-1:15PM. To sign up or learn more information, you can contact Rick Rogers at 402-203-1871 or you can email papillion@rsbaffiliate.com.