FREMONT – When Ed Meyer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five years ago, he met his fate head on. He does everything he can to maintain his health and slow the disease’s prevention, and he found help for his Parkinson’s journey through the national organization Rock Steady Boxing, which offers classes at the YMCA of Sandusky County.
Rock Steady Boxing provides non-contact boxing training for people with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that causes uncontrollable movements. It can affect mobility, emotions and memory.
Locally, classes are taught by Angie Schroeder, a National Trainer for the National Exercise Trainers Association and the affiliate owner and head coach of Rock Steady Boxing in Sandusky County. Schroeder has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer, and she delved into the world of Parkinson’s in 2019. Boxing helps her clients maintain and improve balance, strength training and cognitive skills.
Schroeder has a passion for healthy living and helping others
Schroeder’s work with Rock Steady Boxing combines her passions for healthy living and helping people like Meyer.
“The boxing has helped me a lot with my coordination, speed and power. My hands have improved a lot,” said Meyer, of Castalia. “I’m pretty active. You’ve got to be with this stuff, or you’ll rust up. I do everything I can to fight it.”
Meyer left the April 6 Rock Steady Boxing class tired and sweaty.
“This is intense,” Meyer said of the boxing program. “Angie’s a good trainer. She says the more intense, the better.”
But intense is subjective in Schroeder’s classes, where she tailors workouts to clients’ needs. Some hit bags while standing and some from a wheelchair. Some pound bags at rapid speed while others make slow punches into the leather.
“We accept new people regardless of where they’re at with the disease, whether they have a new diagnosis or are further on,” she said.
Hank Povolny of Elmore was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 20 years ago and has been attending Rock, Steady Boxing classes for two years.
Hank Povolny says the class has helped keep him mobile
“It’s done me a lot of good, so much that, until recently, I could walk,” Povolny said. “When I’m not here, because I’m on vacation or whatever, I get gimpy. When I get back, I’m pretty good again.”
One of Schroeder’s goals is to create an upbeat atmosphere in the gym.
“We try to make it as fun as we can. The brain chemistry changes with Parkinson’s. There’s a lack of dopamine, so anxiety and depression are very common,” Schroeder said.
The fun atmosphere encouraged Kathy Barbour of Fremont to try boxing, which was completely outside of her experience.
“I’ve never done anything like this before, but it’s fun. When I first heard about it, I thought it wasn’t for me. Then I observed a class and said, ‘I could do that,’” Barbour said. “I was just diagnosed in 2021, and I think it helps me maintain where I am. Angie listens to us when we have questions and has presenters come in talk to us about Parkinson’s.”
Marsha Miller of Fremont said boxing increased her strength and coordination.
“I would be a lot worse without this class,” Miller said.
Memory work is an element of the training, as boxers memorize different punches and routines.
“It’s helping with my balance, strength and memory,” said Larry Babb of Fremont. “I discovered things I didn’t know I could do.”
Training Parkinson’s patients has become a significant element in Schroeder’s career.
“I love people, and I like helping people, so this has been a huge part of my journey,” she said. “They’re just amazing people. They don’t give up. They’re fighters. Boxing has been an amazing godsend for me and for them.”
Rock Steady Boxing classes are held at the YMCA of Sandusky County. 1000 North St., Fremont, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-2 p.m. and 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Anyone with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis is welcome. To register, contact Schroeder at 419-307-8533.
Contact correspondent Sheri Trusty at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Parkinson’s sufferers find relief with help of Rock Steady Boxing