Vincent Muchison and DeWayne Hendrix enjoying the boxing studio at the Golden Isles YMCA.

In May of 2018 the Golden Isles YMCA joined the fight against Parkinson’s Disease by offering a class in Fitness Boxing. “In January 2019 we added the boxing class to our group exercise schedule, making it free for members,” said Nicole Fairfield, senior program director at the Golden Isles YMCA.

This non-contact, boxing-inspired fitness routine improves the ability of people with Parkinson’s to have independent lives by delaying the progression of the disease. “As this class picked up popularity, we have increased class offerings,” People of all ages and disease progression are welcome. No boxing experience is necessary, and all workouts are modified to each person’s ability.

While focusing on overall fitness, each one-hour workout includes a circuit of heavy bags, speed bags, core work, balance, functional and weight training. Each class works on all muscle groups, and exercises are varied to keep everyone’s interest. In addition to the physical benefits of boxing, our participants — some with early symptoms and others with significant Parkinson’s symptoms — encourage and embolden each other, all under the careful eye of certified trainers.

DeWayne Hendrix is the lead instructor for the program and has more than 20 years of boxing experience, both as an amateur boxer and a certified Fitness instructor. He shares his experience and enthusiasm for the sport with men and women of all ages, providing them with training, discipline and self-esteem. DeWayne credits his fitness and boxing background with his interest in teaching our Boxing classes. He explained that rigorous exercise emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength, rhythm, and hand-eye coordination can favorably impact daily activities such as range of motion, flexibility, posture and gait for those living with Parkinson’s. The concept of forced intense exercise to each individual’s ability suggests that certain types of exercises are neuro-protective, which means that boxing is a type of exercise that may slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.

Participant and YMCA member Bob Carter says, “Class is fabulous, FABULOUS, it is really outside of my comfront zone, mentally and physically.” Nicole Maline, mother of a participant notes, “Liam always says that he feels empowered and energized after boxing. He always looks forward to it and strives to do better.”

Special clothing is not required; however, participants do need boxing gloves and wraps. DeWayne observed that in the few weeks he has been instructing at the YMCA, participants are enjoying the class and are hesitant to miss a workout. Both the boxers and trainers are noticing definite improvements in balance, voice and range of motion.

Membership to the Golden Isles YMCA is not required. We offer a class pass-punch card. The Y offers financial assistance for anyone who demonstrates that they cannot afford the assessment and/or classes. Membership at the Golden Isles YMCA has no contract, and childcare is provided during all group exercise classes.

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