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Parkinson’s….Boxing Helps…Part 2

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 05-03-2019


Rock Steady Boxing Part II

A personal statement on benefits of RSB

Authored by Otis Vaughn

February 28, 2019

Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) really works and greatly slows the progression of Parkinson’s Disease!

The leader of the Huntsville, AL Rock Steady Boxing Rocket City (RSBRC) is Mrs. Carolyn Rhodes. Carolyn became intimately interested and invested in Rock Steady Boxing when her husband Jim Rhodes was diagnosed with PD. Carolyn was the driving force in organizing and starting RSBRC. Carolyn and Jim were trained in coaching RSB in Indianapolis. She has done an excellent job, and Jim, and now others with PD, have reaped the benefits as he was one of the original participants and his PD symptoms have decreased considerably since he started boxing. When the average person sees Jim, they would never guess that he has PD. Jim has been a great encouragement to the others who have been diagnosed with PD and have joined our local program. RSBRC was started in June 2016.

Our lead coach is named Dallas. Dallas organizes all our exercises, and he keeps us from being bored by having different exercises for us to do each week. The one constant from week to week is we always do boxing exercises. We usually work on a dozen or so exercises each session with each exercise timed to last four minutes, and when we finish all the exercises, we work through the circuit of exercises again. Dallas has a loud penetrating voice that is easily heard above the loud music. Dallas keeps us moving. We have little if any slack time. Dallas and the other coaches make sure our sessions are fun.

Another lead coach is Snoop. As new PD patients join the group, Snoop teaches them the basics of boxing for several weeks before they join the main group. Snoop’s job is to conduct a basic “boot camp” with new boxers so they can keep up with the rest of the boxers when they join the group.

It has been said that PD should be considered a family of diseases. That may very well be true because almost every PD patient seems to have different symptoms. When I started boxing my symptoms were: whole body tremors and especially my hands; not being able to walk in a straight line; poor balance; difficulty swallowing; digestive problems; speaking slower, lower, and softer than previously; and a tendency to lean left while walking.

Every day our exercise routine is started by all boxers sitting in a big circle and stating our names loudly enough to be heard clearly on the other side of the circle. After we state our names, we loudly answer some question that is designed to get us to exercise our vocal cords. This vocalization of our names plus speaking some additional information exercises our vocal cords since one’s voice is usually affected by PD. In the pictures shown in the following paragraphs boxers wear yellow shirts.


Our circle of boxers as we start the day.

After this introduction, we do warm-up exercises that are led by Dallas or one of the other coaches. Our coaches are experts at giving us exercises that are designed to stretch and warmup our bodies. After warmup, we are ready to begin the exercises.

                                           Boxers punching the heavy bags.

A boxer punching the heavy tear shaped bag. This bag is good for practicing upper cuts. Other boxers are shadow boxing so they will be ready to punch the heavy bags.

There are many ways a heavy bag can be pounded and punched on the floor.

We also punch the torso training bag which is named Dallas, Jr. It is impossible for a boxer to knock Dallas, Jr. down.

There are a number of other forms of exercise we do including hitting the speed bags, riding stationary bikes, riding the elliptical machine, hitting plastic shopping bags, lifting weights, using 40″ PVC pipe to do exercises, jumping and running on a trampoline, bouncing heavy balls off the wall, plus many more. There is no end to Dallas’s creativity.

RSB has many doctors who support the program as well as therapists who provide tremendous help in teaching us how to manage our PD symptoms.

Now I want to say what RSB has done for me. Almost all the symptoms I mention in an above paragraph have been greatly diminished in their effect on me. Most people do not know I have PD. I live and enjoy a completely normal life. I have to say that I am not completely healed, and I still take medication for PD every day. I give RSB the credit for providing the means for me to live an ordinary life. I realize that I have the personal responsibility to practice what I am taught, and that practice must include everything I do every day. For example, PD tends to make me walk leaning toward my left. Every day for the rest of my life, I must make myself stand and walk straight and resist the urge to lean left…. and it is so with my other PD symptoms. I must take responsibility for my life. I am approaching being 84 years old, and life is very good!!! Keep moving. Keep boxing. Keep exercising.

After we have completed cool down exercises, we are ready to close out the day. At the end of the exercise day, we gather in a tight circle where we are touching each other. Dallas or one of the other coaches leads us in repeating a poem in very loud voices. The coaches write different poems for each day. The following poem, written by Dallas, is appropriately read only if one shouts the words … we need that vocal exercise!


Parkinson’s and Rock Steady had a fight,

Early in the morning and through the night.

Parkinson’s was a worthy foe,

Rock Steady Boxing stole the show.

Parkinson’s started with a sucker punch,

Rock Steady countered and ate his lunch.

Parkinson’s opened his bag of tricks,

Rock Steady hit him like a ton of bricks.

Parkinson’s had to take a standing 8 count,

Rock Steady knew this was a rout.

Parkinson’s staggered and fell against the rope,

Rock Steady charged with joy and hope.

No mas no mas Parkinson’s said.

Rock Steady boxers hit him in the head.

Shout it out loud,

Victory, Victory, Rock Steady is proud!!!

We have many coaches and volunteers who help us every day without pay or compensation of any kind. They perform a wonderful service. We simply would not be able to perform without their help!!! I am sure all the boxers say many, many thanks to them!!! We thank the coaches who have paid the price in time and money to coach us: Allen, Anne, Armand, Carolyn, Dallas, Derrik, Erin, Jim, John, Julie, MC, Ru, Russ, and Susan. We thank the volunteers who dedicate so many hours of their time each week: Angela, Arlan, Bob, Bruce, Chuck, Clint, Daniel, Elena, Erin, Eva, Jane, Jo, Kandy, Maggi, Mary, Mike, Pam, Peggy, Renee, Tamara, and Vicki.


Comments (1)

Great article, Otis…Thanks again..

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