What Is Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady Boxing is a one-of-a-kind, non-profit program founded in Indianapolis in 2006 to provide a uniquely effective form of physical exercise to people who are living with Parkinson’s. Though it may seem surprising, this non-contact, boxing-inspired fitness routine is proving to dramatically improve the ability of people with Parkinson’s to live independent lives. Rock Steady Boxing and the information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of Parkinson’s disease. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, on this website is for general informational purposes only. You are encouraged to discuss any information found on this website with your physician.

Who Started RSB?

The foundational roots for what would eventually become Rock Steady Boxing began with a friendship between two Indianapolis friends.  During his second term as the elected county prosecutor for Marion County (Indianapolis), Scott C. Newman was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s at the age of 40.  A friend and former Golden Gloves boxer began one-on-one boxing training together. Through private donations and the use of a portion of a corporate gym, RSB began offering boxing training program to anyone with Parkinson’s. In 2011, RSB was able to open an independent gym through an Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis grant and a partnership with a locally owned fitness facility. 

Does RSB provide any other types of support or group activities?

Rock Steady Boxing is designed to be fun, combining an exercise program within a social atmosphere. Rock Steady Boxers and their caregivers, friends and families foster a culture of optimism by supporting each other in many ways other than in the boxing training. Activities include social events, moral support, fundraising and sharing news on various treatments and support resources.

What types of boxing classes does RSB offer?

Training classes include an exercise program that attacks Parkinson’s at its vulnerable neurological points. While focusing on overall fitness, workouts include: ring work, focus mitts, heavy bags, speed bags, double-ended bags, jump rope, core work, calisthenics and circuit weight training. No boxing experience is necessary and people of all ages are invited to participate.  There are four different levels of classes offered, depending on the participants level of Parkinson’s and overall fitness.

Why boxing training instead of more traditional exercises, such as physical therapy or just going to exercise classes at a fitness center?

Various studies in the 1980’s and 1990‘s support that rigorous exercise, emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength, rhythm, and hand-eye coordination can favorably impact range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait, and activities of daily living. More recent studies, most notably at Cleveland Clinic, focus on the concept of intense “forced” exercise, and suggest that certain types of exercise are neuro-protective, which means that it is a type of exercise that may actually slow disease progression.

The boxing regime at Rock Steady provides a framework which fits the mold for neuro-protection. Boxing requires a combination of endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, durability, hand-eye coordination and the ability to react appropriately to strategic situations. Boxing improves balance and stability by forcing movements in all planes of motion. The rapid movements involved in jumping and punching increases over-all muscle fire ability.  In addition, Rock Steady has learned methods to combat specific symptoms through other Parkinson’s exercise organizations (like Delay the Disease) to mix into our core boxing curriculum.

Is there medical evidence that shows exercise can help alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms?

Yes. The value of exercise has been corroborated in several studies, including some at Lakehead University in Ontario and University of Utah in Salt Lake City. According to a Cleveland Clinic study, aerobic fitness can be improved in Parkinson’s patients following forced and/or voluntary exercise. Studies are showing that exercise induces brain repair and accompanying behavioral recovery. (References to any studies on this website are for informational purposes only and do not imply a specific endorsement of RSB by the researchers.) Some suggest that continuous, intensive training may confer neuro-protection, and subsequently slow, stop, or reverse the progression of Parkinson’s or promote neuro-restoration.

Because of the promising results seen through RSB, the organization has been selected to be a part of research to document the impact of boxing and rigorous exercise on the progression of Parkinson’s. RSB has also drawn the attention of local university researchers, who are now in the process of quantifying and evaluating the results in the people who have continued with RSB.

Before beginning any type of exercise program including RSB, those with Parkinson’s are encouraged to consult with their physician.

What are the qualifications of the RSB Trainers?

All lead boxing coaches are certified by Rock Steady Boxing and by Boxing Ontario. Classes will be designed and led by a RSB-certified coach with assistance as required from volunteer coaches and care partners (referred to as cornermen). There is always at least one person on-site who is certified in first aid, CPR, and the use of the automatic electronic defibrillator (AED).

Can I visit an RSB class before deciding if I want to participate?

Yes! You and your friends and family members are welcome to visit any of our regular classes at any time to observe. Because there is so much structured activity going on during classes, it is helpful if you call first so we can be prepared for your visit. Contact the RSB office at info@rocksteadyboxingtoronto.org.

When and where are the RSB classes held?

Rock Steady Boxing Toronto classes are held at Budo Canada, 38C Apex Road (near Lawrence and Dufferin).

Please email info@rocksteadyboxingtoronto.org for more information.

Am I required to attend every class once I get started?

To receive the maximum benefit we suggest that boxers attend at least 2-3 training sessions each week, but there is no minimal attendance requirement. We realize that personal schedules can require you to occasionally miss a class. However, continuity in training is important. If you miss a class, we encourage you to exercise at home or at an off-site fitness facility.

Can anyone with Parkinson’s participate…no matter what their age or condition?

Nearly everyone with Parkinson’s disease can participate and receive benefits from Rock Steady Boxing. An intake evaluation process is conducted prior to the first class to determine the recommended class level. Some participants will require a caregiver partner to assist in each session. To facilitate maximum benefit, we offer four levels of classes. Individuals of all ages are benefiting from RSB’s program. We strongly encourage you also to discuss RSB participation with your physician prior to your first workout.

What should I wear to the classes?

We recommend that you wear comfortable gym clothes including shorts or pants, T-shirts, sweats, or yoga clothes, and comfortable athletic shoes. Street clothes and shoes are not recommended.

Do I need a physician’s recommendation to attend RSB?

We require every participant to have a physician’s release. We recommend that Rock Steady Boxers always discuss any form of exercise they are doing inside and outside of RSB with their physicians as part of their overall wellness plan. RSB also requests that individuals with cardiac problems clear their participation with their doctors to make sure that they can participate in activities requiring rigorous exercise.