Using boxing to fight Parkinson's Disease

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 08, 2016

The Parkinson's Disease Foundation estimates there are more than 1 million people in the United States currently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and more than 60,000 people are diagnosed each year.

Now, a new local gym aims to give the disease’s symptoms a T-K-O. It is called Rock Steady Boxing and it recently opened up inside Beverly Hills Club.

There are currently Rock Steady gyms in other states, including two others here in Michigan.

Ray Mendelson has so far taken three classes. Every time he suits up, he is ready for action.

The 77-year-old, along with others at the local gym are all called fighters.

“A year and a half ago I was in a wheelchair,” said Ray. “They said I would never walk again, but I’m walking.”

The former military man enjoys the exercises, which use forced impact exercises. The exercises have drastically improved symptoms of the disease or slowed them down.

“Ray, the first time he came in he was a little nervous, apprehensive,” said head coach Patrick Mason. “And he was a different guy 30 minutes into the evaluation and when he came in here you could kind of see him becoming more of himself.”

“I feel good,” said Ray.  “I’m using my muscles.”

According to Mason, Rock Steady Gyms have a lot of success stories and there is interest in the program around the world.

As for Ray, he has done a lot of physical training since his diagnosis, but with the recent help of Rock Steady Boxing, his confidence is on the rise.

He also feels like a champ and he has a few words for anyone battling the same disease.

“Don’t give up. There’s always hope,” said Ray. “Exercise.”

The fighters work out two days a week in an 8 week program. They can sign up again after that.

Anyone interested can join at any time.