Punching, footwork and stretching can help with balance and movement, study found

Program in Kendall gym

More than 6 million people have Parkinson’s disease[Joe Glick, center, keeps his eye on his form as he bends over to touch his toes with his gloves. Thump Boxing Gym in Kendall conducts a "Rock Steady" fitness program for Parkinson’s patients that uses boxing training exercises to build power, strength and flexibility to help the patients with balance, mobility and walking.]
[Trainer Gloria Dacosta, left, holds up boxing mitts as Barbara Galper, 78, of Chicago, takes her best shot during the Rock Steady Boxing program for Parkinson’s patients at Thump Gym in Kendall.]
[Trainer Steve Arintok, left, trains with a Parkinson's patient at Thump Gym in Kendall, which conducts a boxing training program to help Parkinson’s patients regain their balance and mobility.]
[Andy Williams, 75, concentrates while hitting the punching bag at Thump Gym in Kendall. Says Williams, who has Parkinson’s disease: “I feel nonstop enthusiasm for punching that bag. There is no feeling sorry. You have a challenge, and you meet it by going full blast.’’]
[Joe Glick, center, keeps his eye on his form as he bends over to touch his toes with his gloves. Thump Boxing Gym in Kendall conducts a "Rock Steady" fitness program for Parkinson’s patients that uses boxing training exercises to build power, strength and flexibility to help the patients with balance, mobility and walking.]
[Trainer Gloria Dacosta, left, holds up boxing mitts as Barbara Galper, 78, of Chicago, takes her best shot during the Rock Steady Boxing program for Parkinson’s patients at Thump Gym in Kendall.]
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Trainer Gloria Dacosta, left, holds up boxing mitts as Barbara Galper, 78, of Chicago, takes her best shot during the Rock Steady Boxing program for Parkinson’s patients at Thump Gym in Kendall. CARL JUSTE cjuste@miamiherald.com

BY WALTER VILLA

Special to the Miami Herald

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Eleven fighters, all training against the same opponent, gathered recently, just as they do most every Monday and Friday afternoon at Thump Gym in Kendall.

Their adversary is relentless, and these six women and five men — plus millions more throughout the world — will need to fight for their lives just to stay in the ring.

Their opponent — Parkinson’s disease — is undefeated so far, but a program called Rock Steady Boxing is giving those afflicted a fighting chance.

Rock Steady was developed in Indianapolis in 2006 by a Parkinson’s patient and former prosecutor, Scott Newman. Participants don’t get hit —this is non-contact boxing. Rather, they punch a heavy bag, do foot work, stretch, and incorporate resistance exercises and aerobic training.

Steve Arintok, the 56-year-old owner of Thump Gym, has been trained to teach the class, geared specifically for those who have Parkinson’s.

Stephanie Combs-Miller, associate professor at the University of Indianapolis’ Krannert School of Physical Therapy, recently conducted the first major study on the effects of boxing therapy on Parkinson’s. Over a two-year period, 88 volunteers, half of whom participated in Rock Steady Boxing, were tracked every six months using physical therapy assessments.

“We found that people who exercise in a boxing program demonstrated a higher level of function,’’ she said in a release about a lecture she was giving on the subject.

The theory is that the combination of activities connected to the boxing helps develop strength, agility, endurance and flexibility. Over time, the participants who did the program demonstrated significantly better balance and walking function, compared with Parkinson’s patients who chose other forms of exercise.

At Thump, Arintok gathers his students in a circle after each class. He speaks, and they repeat after him:

“I’m blessed that every day is a new day.

“I’m a fighter. I never quit.

“I’m a fighter. I never give up.

“I’m a fighter. I’m always tough.

“Fight back on three … One, two, three … FIGHT BACK!”

THE OPPONENT

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The most obvious symptoms include tremors, rigidity, difficulty with walking and slowness of movement. Most cases occur after age 50.

Later, thinking and behavioral problems may arise, with dementia occurring in the advanced stages of the disease. Depression is the most common psychiatric symptom.

Parkinson’s occurs when nerve cells in the brain become impaired or die. These cells produce a brain chemical known as dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that, when working, sends messages within the brain to produce movements. The disease is named after the English doctor, James Parkinson, who in 1817 published the first detailed description of the disorder.

In recent years, actor Michael J. Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali — who both have Parkinson’s — have raised public awareness of the disease. Globally, there are 6.3 million people suffering from Parkinson’s, including nearly 1 million in the United States.

THE FIGHTER

Joe Glick, who spent three decades as a personal-injury trial lawyer, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on Nov. 12, 2012. He was 54.

The first symptom he noticed was limping with his left leg. One day, while taking a shower, Glick noticed he couldn’t make circles with his left hand. Alarmed, he went to see a doctor, who told him he had Parkinson’s.

His reaction?

“Shock and then depression … devastation,” Glick said.

After three months of self pity, Glick got some tough love from his wife, Sharon.

“She told me you can sit here and cry in bed and you can ruin the rest of your life and my life and our children’s lives,” Glick said, “or you can have this become your legacy.”

Glick joined Park Optimists Miami, which offers therapy, exercise and support groups for Parkinson’s patients. Glick is now the president of the organization.

Glick also got into tai chi, a Chinese martial art, and plays tennis twice a week.

But then he read about boxing and its positive effect on his disease.

“Somebody did a study,” Glick said, “and found that boxing is good for almost everything that ails a Parkinson’s patient.”

THE TRAINER

When Glick found out about Rock Steady, he called the gym closest to his Kendall home and found Thump Gym, 8100 SW 81st Dr.

Glick connected with Arintok, who has been an amateur boxer and trainer for most of his life. He also has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has taught combat courses to police officers.

Arintok was also very close to his aunt, Maria DeGuzman, who died of Parkinson’s in 2007.

“I couldn’t have met a more knowledgeable guy or a more empathetic guy,” said Glick, who now boxes three times a week, including one private lesson.

After agreeing to become partners in the Rock Steady venture, Glick and Arintok flew to Indianapolis to get certified, which required four days of intensive instruction. Arintok was certified in August.

“You learn about Parkinson’s, the symptoms, the ill effects,” Arintok said. “You meet with movement specialists and learn the methodology of the Rock Steady program. You learn a lot.

“It was overwhelming for me, emotionally, having gone through it with my aunt.”

Arintok learned that each exercise in Rock Steady has a Parkinson’s-related purpose. He has his students yell, for example, to counter the soft-voice syndrome. Stretching eases stiffness and punching steadies the tremors.

Most importantly, the footwork used in boxing improves coordination and balance.

“It’s remarkable,” Glick said. “I’m definitely a lot stronger now. It’s helped with my balance. Before, I was falling all over the place.”

GOING THE DISTANCE

Once Glick decided to make his battle against Parkinson’s his legacy, he came up with three goals:

“I want to live in the moment,” he said. “I want to make every day the best day possible. And I want to help everyone I come in contact with to make their day better.”

That’s what he, Arintok and his assistant, Gloria Dacosta, a competitive fighter who helps teach the class, are doing with Rock Steady.

“People tend to do things that are fun,” Arintok said. “But it’s also hard work. If you are ready, we will kick your butt. Most Parkinson’s patients are coddled. Our first instinct is to be cautious. But that’s something I learned in Indianapolis — make it challenging, and they’re grateful.”

Count Andy Williams, 75, among the grateful ones. Although he lives in Hollywood, he makes the trip to Thump twice a week.

Williams, who was diagnosed four years ago, has lost his ability to taste food. But while that is not fixable, Williams said, his balance is improving due to Rock Steady.

“What I’m working on is the ability to not fall over,” he said. “When I lean forward, I start to get shaky.”

Williams said he has noticed that his hands are shaking less since starting Rock Steady.

“I feel nonstop enthusiasm for punching that bag,” Williams said. “There is no feeling sorry. You have a challenge, and you meet it by going full blast.’’

Arintok said his fighters look out for each other. If one doesn’t show up for class, they check up on that person.

“This,” Arintok said, “is easily the most rewarding thing I’ve done in this industry.”

IF YOU GO

What: Rock Steady Boxing program.

Where: Thump Gym, 8100 SW 81st Dr., Kendall.

When: Mondays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and Fridays from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Cost: $65 a month.

Phone: 305-403-7325.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/kendall/article53036425.html#storylink=cpy

December 2015 - WSVN Online


South Floridians battling debilitating diseases take to boxing

Posted: Dec 29, 2015 8:27 PM ESTUpdated: Dec 29, 2015 8:27 PM EST

 

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- For those who suffer from debilitating diseases, working out is also a life fight, and they're fighting it out for their health.

Their workouts are part physical, part mental, but it's all to improve the well being of those involved.

The owner of Thump Fight Gym has traveled coast to coast training world champions. "I do what I've always done," said Rock Steady Boxing trainer Steve Arintok. "Just old-school, hard style training."

But Arintok, a boxer himself with a black belt in jujitsu, has found his new calling among the punching bags.

Some of these men and women are fighting for a better quality of life. "We address balance coordination," Arintok said. "We do skills, how to get up, sit down."

The program, called Rock Steady Boxing started in Indianapolis and has since spread to gyms across the country.

It's an innovative, no-contact boxing inspired workout dedicated to people like Joe Glick who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurodegenterative disorder with no cure. "You treat them like fighters because that's what they're doing," said Arintok.

For Glick, he said he feels stronger because of his boxing lessons. "Putting on the gloves, it gives you a feeling of empowerment," he said.

Glick was diagnosed three years ago and soon couldn't reach forward without falling over. But today, his wife said the intense hour-long classes have had dramatic results. "The major 'Aha' moment was when he was proud of himself that he was able to improve his coordination and his emotional well-being," said Joe's wife Sharon Glick.

Physical and mental, the strength and agility training, the emotional release became the fun. "The first thing I thought of was Muhammad Ali," Joe said.

It's certainly, an unexpected workout, but one that Joe believes in.

Arintok is willing and determined with his team of trainers. He relates to his trainees as his aunt who raised him died from Parkinson's disease in 2007.

Arintok truly believes that the training is working. "I've had people where it's slowed down the disease dramatically," he said. "That's encouraging very, very encouraging."

February, 2016


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Battling Parkinson’s with boxing training