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06 Feb 2023

Parkinson's UK funds Rock Steady Boxing to train more coaches
BY Frances Marcellin

Rock Steady Boxing helps those with Parkinson's cope better through non-contact boxing training

Rock Steady Boxing helps those with Parkinson's cope better through non-contact boxing training
photo: Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) – a US organisation that provides non-contact boxing programmes to sufferers of Parkinson’s disease – has been awarded a grant of £5,000 from charity Parkinson’s UK. It will be used to train new coaches in the UK so the RSB programme can reach more people affected by the disease.

The course is designed for physiotherapists, boxing coaches, personal trainers, fitness coaches and medical professionals who work with clients with Parkinson’s, or wish to in the future. Attendance required is ten hours of online training as well as a two-day in-person programme. The next one is held in Widnes on 11 and 12 March. The grant means that applicants can qualify for a discount and only pay £325 for the training instead of £730 (US$899). The sum will also be used to subsidise training costs for new head coaches.

There are more than 1m million people in the US diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and 60,000 diagnosed each year. In the UK, around 145,000 people live with Parkinson’s. Research suggests that short bursts of high-intensity exercise – such as non-contact boxing – can promote the release of BDNC (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which helps the production of dopamine in the area of the brain affected by Parkinson’s.

This type of exercise can help to improve motor skills, but the specifics of non-contact boxing can also help with posture, strength and coordination (punching a bag); balance (footwork and agility); and regular socialising, through interaction with others during a RSB class.

“Current evidence from the Parkinson’s community supports regular, vigorous activity to help manage symptoms and Rock Steady Boxing is a great way to deliver this life-changing physical activity,” said Ryan Cotton, chief executive officer at Rock Steady Boxing. “We hope that with training across the UK, we can develop more locations so the entire Parkinson’s community has a local Rock Steady Boxing class available to them.”

RSB was originally founded by Scott Newman and Vince Perez in 2006. Newman was a lawyer with early-onset Parkinson’s at the age of 40. His friend, Perez, an amateur-level competitive boxer, developed a fitness programme around boxing focusing on the vulnerable neurological areas that Parkinson’s affects. Newman still lives with Parkinson’s, but today there are 871 RSB programmes running around the world and 43,500 people with Parkinson’s training with RSB.

“We are delighted to be in partnership with Rock Steady Boxing – they offer the absolute gold standard in equipping providers to become excellent boxing coaches, equipped with an understanding of Parkinson’s and helping people with the condition understand the benefits of being physically active,” said Tim Morton, physical activity programme manager for Parkinson’s UK. “We hope that this great offer will help set up new Rock Steady centres all over the UK, and ultimately help thousands of people to live well with the condition.”

Those interested to apply for a discounted training place can visit Rock Steady Boxing and use the discount code ‘UK2023’ or apply to be an affiliate.



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