BILLINGS- Here in Billings, people battling Parkinson’s are fighting back against the disease. In some cases, quite literally.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, a class of students struggling with the disease gather at Rock Solid Martial Arts to take part in the boxing fitness class aimed specifically at those dealing with Parkinson’s.
The program is called Rock Steady Boxing.
“The program mirrors what we do here because martial arts, just like the Rock Steady program, is just about improving your life quality," said gym owner and course instructor Jonathan Waterfall.
This type of training, called forced intensive exercise, has been clinically proven to slow the progression of symptoms in Parkinson’s patients and can be adapted to participants of all physical capabilities.
After just a couple months, those participating in the program are already starting to see results.
"I’m stronger and I just have a better outlook and a more optimistic outlook. There’s no more ‘poor me’ because I’m fighting!" one participant said.
The group is also a great resource for social support and gives participants a chance to meet people battling the same things they are.
“We all understand each other. If someone tips over, we’re all like, we do that too. There’s no judgments and it’s a great group of people and we’re all here to help each other,” another participant added.
Another woman said that the forced intensive exercise regimen has allowed her to reduce the number of side effect inducing medicines she takes, while still alleviating her physical symptoms.
Waterfall traveled to Indiana to the Rock Steady headquarters in Indianapolis to get formally certified as an affiliate program this past March.
He said that once he got to know the program he just fell in love with it and is excited to bring it to his community. He says that the message the class can teach to everyone is that "you are more resilient than you think."
In the time since he brought the program back here to his gym in Billings he has built a class of around 14 people.
In addition to Rock Solid Martial Arts in Billings, Rock Steady affiliates can be found in Helena, Bozeman and Kalispell.