Living Well with Michelle: Punching back at Parkinson’s disease with Rock Steady Boxing

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Oyama Karate in Homewood is offering boxing classes designed to help people fight the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Instructor Julian Karl said the Rock Steady Boxing program focuses on building strength, reinforcing balance and maintaining coordination. 

“Some have been diagnosed and had it for a long time, some are newly diagnosed, but so their motor function is starting to decline,” said Julian. “So what we hope to do is by pushing them physically, to start to slow down the progression.”

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that has no cure. Wayne Pitner was diagnosed in May 2019. 

“It is somewhat of a shock to you to hear that,” said Pitner. “You know, well, what’s it gonna do and how it’s gonna affect you.” 

Later that same month, his daughter-in-law signed him up for the class. He hasn’t looked back since. 

“There’s a lot of good things that come out of the group setting,” said Pitner. “A lot of good things come out of Karl coming over to you individually and telling you why you’re doing this and what you need to do.”

It’s a workout as much about finding inner strength as it is overcoming physical obstacles. 

“By being physical, by exercising by working hard with their body, people become happier,” said Julian. “People become more calm. This is a place they can let out all their frustrations, they can smack the bag. Nobody’s gonna get in trouble, they can hit as hard as they want.”

Julian encourages anyone who might benefit from this class to try it out. 

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