by Samantha Thony
Imagine not being able to get out of your own bed, drive a car or even work. Your hands, arms, legs and face irrepressibly shake. At times your limbs are rigid, you seem a bit slow, and simple tasks such as walking and talking become increasingly difficult.
Nearly one million Americans with Parkinson’s disease wake up to such a reality every day.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder that effects motor function. It occurs when vital nerve cells called neurons deteriorate. The neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends signals to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. When dopamine decreases, it is challenging to control movement. Even though there have been many tests and studies done by neurologists, no one has been able to find a cause or cure for the disease. However, because of some passionate individuals, PD patients now have a fighting chance to manage life in spite of their illness.
In 2006, Scott C. Newman, a former prosecutor, founded Rock Steady Boxing – a program that slows down the progression of PD through high intensity workouts. After being diagnosed himself, Newman began one-on-one boxing with a friend, who was a former professional boxer, at a local gym. After seeing dramatic changes in his condition, he sought to offer boxing training programs to anyone with PD regardless of their physical level or stage in Parkinson’s. Through donations and a lot of passion, Rock Steady Boxing globally expanded and now has found a home here in Tallahassee.
“I Had a Passion to Help Others”
Kim Bibeau, personal trainer, weight loss/nutrition coach, corrective exercise specialist and owner of fitness studio Sweat Therapy, shares a similar characteristic with Newman: a commitment to helping others. When she learned about Parkinson’s disease, its severe effects on those diagnosed and lack of additional support, she knew she had to do something. She had heard about Rock Steady Boxing and thought it was a great idea to bring the program to her studio.
Motivated to improve the quality of life of PD patients here in Tallahassee, Bibeau traveled to Indianapolis to get certified and trained at the Rock Steady Training Camp. In March 2016, Bibeau and team started a Rock Steady Program at Sweat Therapy Fitness. Ever since, it’s been an amazing experience for her and her clients.
The program includes three high intensity workouts: boxing, pedaling, and strength and balance, each targeting specific movements that increase dopamine and aid in management of certain symptoms such as poor posture. Boxing isn’t a cure for Parkinson’s. However, it slows the progression of the disease and elevates patients’ daily quality of life, while increasing their power, strength, flexibility and speed. Bibeau noticed an immediate change in her clients physically and mentally. They felt better, were more confident, and most importantly, sensed the camaraderie. “You’re surrounded by people who have the same struggle,” she says. Bibeau is not all hard work and no play. With a mix of singing, dancing, music and loud laughter, she creates a fun and safe environment that anyone can enjoy.
In five years, Bibeau hopes to continue to enhance the lives of people with the disease. Her goal is to expand Sweat Therapy throughout other counties, and dedicate one location that specifically targets those living with PD.
Rock Steady Boxing classes held on the following days at the Uptown location:
Monday and Wednesday, 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Friday, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Pedaling classes held on the following days at the Midtown location:
Tuesday and Thursday, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Strength & Balance classes held on the following days at the Midtown location:
Monday and Wednesday, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Persimmon Hill Suite 102-A
6265 Old Water Oak Road
Tallahassee, FL 32312
1122 Thomasville Road Unit 10
Manor @ Midtown (next to Finnegan’s Wake)
Tallahassee, FL 32303
For more information on the Rock Steady Boxing program offered at Sweat Therapy, call (850) 222-1781 or email email@example.com.
Samantha Thony is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.A. in creative writing and media communications. She’s currently building her portfolio as an intern for Tallahassee Family Magazine and has worked as a media relations intern for the Leon County government.