Rock Steady Boxing, Nova Scotia

VICTORIA NOLAN: Did you know
that about 100,000 Canadians live with Parkinson’s? ANTHONY MCLACHLAN: I did. Parkinson’s is a chronic
degenerative neurological disease. It can cause deterioration
of motor skills, balance, and speech. VICTORIA NOLAN: Symptoms can
be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. One intervention
that’s working for some is Rock Steady Boxing, a
non-contact boxing-based fitness program. ANTHONY MCLACHLAN: Recently,
Halifax’s Laura Bain travelled to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia,
to meet up with Kyle Cameron, Atlantic Canada’s only certified
Rock Steady Boxing coach, to find out more. KYLE CAMERON: We ready? All right! Jumping jacks! Let’s go! LAURA BAIN: Three times a
week, more than a dozen people living with Parkinson’s
meet at Ring 73, where Rock Steady boxing coach
Kyle Cameron rules the gym. KYLE CAMERON: Get
your crunch on! Finish strong! We’re close to the end! Time. Good job. Whoo. LAURA BAIN: Rock Steady Boxing
participant Weldon Yates willingly submits to
the punishing program. WELDON YATES: We’re running,
we’re walking, we’re skipping, we’re jumping, we’re
stretching, we’re pulling ropes, push-ups
against the wall, the planks on the floor. LAURA BAIN: He’s
only been attending for a couple of months, but has
already experienced benefits. WELDON YATES: You could
ask me to do anything now. I can do it. Before I couldn’t move. My muscles, I guess, were
tightened up too much, I guess. LAURA BAIN: Weldon was
diagnosed eight months ago with Parkinson’s. WELDON YATES: I was in
very, very bad shape. I couldn’t bend down. I couldn’t put my pants on. I couldn’t get help. I got somebody to
tie my shoelaces. And when I came up here, I
was welcomed with open arms. And since then, you
wouldn’t believe it, I’m 80% different
than when I come here. LAURA BAIN: It’s improvements
like Weldon’s that motivate Kyle, a
competitive boxing veteran, to spread the Rock
Steady Boxing gospel. KYLE CAMERON: Rock Steady
Boxing was founded back in 2006 by Scott Newman from
Indianapolis who got diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. Come on, guys. LAURA BAIN: Rock
Steady is now taught in gyms around the world. The non-contact
program follows a plan similar to the kind used by
boxers to train for a fight. KYLE CAMERON: Breathe
in as you’re going down. Exhale as you’re coming up. LAURA BAIN: Floor exercises
like crunches and lifting long, heavy ropes overhead build
strength and flexibility. KYLE CAMERON: Good job. Six, seven, eight. Make sure we’re
breathing properly. LAURA BAIN: While
cardio exercises like jumping jacks and
skipping improve footwork. KYLE CAMERON: The
footwork and stuff helps them with their
gait, which is something that a lot of
Parkinson’s patients get stuck with, a gait where
they can’t really move. They can’t step. So a lot of the footwork drills
that we do in boxing actually crosses over to help them. LAURA BAIN: Kyle got certified
to coach the program after his late father-in-law was
diagnosed with Parkinson’s. KYLE CAMERON: Being passionate
about helping people in the sport of boxing
and being passionate about being close to my former
father-in-law, I was like, you know what, this is something
I want to learn more about. Nova Scotia has a very high rate
of Parkinson’s, so new people being diagnosed all the time. So I figured if
there’s something I could do to help alleviate
some of that, I’d do it. LAURA BAIN: Putting
on the gloves and throwing punches
at a heavy bag or hand pads help hand-eye
coordination and timing. KYLE CAMERON: So this is
a tough workout for them. LAURA BAIN: The gain is worth
the pain for participant Mora MacCormack. MORA MCCORMACK: Since I
started coming to boxing, I noticed it had a tremendous
increase in my mobility. And I could reach for things,
and I felt comfortable in my own shoes. KYLE CAMERON: Mora, she had a
lot of tremors when she first started. She didn’t have much of a gait. And now if you’ve watched her
when she’s punching the bags, she punches hard. She absolutely loves the
boxing aspect of this class. We’re doing an
overhead press now. Let’s go. One! LAURA BAIN: In addition
to the fitness benefits, the class provides participants
with a sense of camaraderie. MORA MCCORMACK: I’d describe
our Parkinson’s group as we all have membership to a
club we didn’t want to be in. But since we’re in, we’ve
become a very good family, and we have quite a few laughs. [laughing] We have to have
a sense of humour with Parkinson’s. KYLE CAMERON: Let’s
finish strong! We’re at the end! There’s no cure for Parkinson’s,
but if we can alleviate some of that stress
to make them go through their day a
little bit easier, have a smile on their face
and a better quality life– that’s why I’m doing it. It’s an amazing program. ANTHONY MCLACHLAN: It’s
great that the program seems to be helping people. VICTORIA NOLAN: I think Kyle’s
passion for this program is part of the reason the
classes became so popular so quickly.

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