Our Staff

Mary Neilans– Executive Director

After attending the World Parkinson Congress in 2013, Mary was inspired to head to Indianapolis to complete the Rock Steady Boxing certification and return to Canada to share the successful Rock Steady Boxing philosophy and program in Toronto.

Mary's background, education, and experience have focused on research, writing, and training, in the areas of human rights, equality, and disability awareness. Through her work with people living with Parkinson's Disease, she has seen the many benefits of high-intensity exercise.

As Executive Director at Rock Steady Boxing Toronto, Mary serves as an Advocate and Support Coach for all participants. She understands that it's not only the high-energy exercises and training that motivates boxers with Parkinson's, but it's also the support and camaraderie that make the Rock Steady experience literally life-changing.

Her goal is to ensure that the Rock Steady Boxing Toronto program is available to all who can benefit from it. Mary focuses on outreach, promotion, and providing information and support to all participants and others who are interested in discovering more about Rock Steady Boxing.

In addition to her role with Rock Steady Boxing, Mary also delivers empowering self-management training workshops to people living with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners. She also serves as an ongoing advocate to advance awareness about Parkinson’s disease through her writing and presentations.

 

James McClelland - Coach

James McClellandFitness and exercise have always been a big part of James’ life. Helping people improve their health and wellbeing is the reason he loves being a fitness and health coach.

With a background in Fitness and Health Promotion and over 7 years of experience training a wide variety of clients, including amateur athletes and business executives, James enjoys the challenge of adapting exercises, coaching styles, and training techniques to diverse audiences.

Having had a close family member with Parkinson's disease, James is excited to be able to work with Rock Steady boxers every day to make a difference and have a positive impact on improving the lives of people living with Parkinson's.

Qualifications:

  • Rock Steady Boxing coaching certification
  • Fitness and Health Promotion, Humber College
  • CanFit Pro Certified Personal Trainer
  • FKCI Level 1 Kickboxing Instructor Certification
  • CPR/AED/First Aid
  • Certified Yoga Instructor

 

Joyce Asprec Lising - Coach

Joyce LisingJoyce has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years, having worked for well-known industry names such as Bally Total Fitness, Gold's Gym, Evolve Health and Fitness, and Extreme Fitness. She has provided both individual and group fitness training throughout her career.

Joyce also brings her training and expertise with nutrition planning as a Clinical Registered Dietitian, registered both in California and Ontario, to her work with the Parkinson's Resource Centre. She is proud to be part of the Rock Steady coaching team and to bring her dedication to health and wellness to support those living with Parkinson's disease.

Qualifications:

  • Rock Steady Boxing coaching certification
  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America training
  • Private and group training experience
  • Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Canada
  • Registered Dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • CPR/AED/First Aid
  • International Olympic Committee Diploma in Sports Nutrition

 

Andrew Kooner - Coach

Andrew Kooner

Andrew Kooner began boxing at the age of 13 in Windsor, Ontario. An Olympic and Commonwealth Games athlete, he has competed in numerous international competitions. In the 2000 Summer Olympics, he lost in the 2nd round in the flyweight division. At the Commonwealth Games, he won the bronze medal in 1998 and the silver medal in 2002. At the 2004 Summer Olympics, he tied for fifth in the bantamweight division. While still competing as an amateur, he also defeated Juan Manuel López.

Andrew is a strong advocate for health and exercise for all populations and is committed to sharing his skills and experience with Rock Steady boxers. The opportunity for people with Parkinson’s to be coached by an Olympic boxer increases the motivation and enthusiasm of participants for Rock Steady Boxing Toronto classes and their many benefits.

Andrew is also an active volunteer in the community, working with youth at risk in Toronto as a boxing instructor at B.A.D.G.E (Boxers Against Drugs and Guns Everywhere).

Qualifications:

  • Rock Steady Boxing coaching certification
  • CPR / First Aid / AED certification
  • IFA Personal Trainer and Aerobics certification
  • Fitness Leadership program, Humber College
  • Level 1 Boxing Ontario Coaching Certification
  • 10x Canadian amateur champion
  • Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medallist
  • Pan Am Games bronze medallist
  • 2x Olympian
  • Canadian professional champion
  • Retired 10-2 record

 

Ben de Villena - Coach

Ben de VillenaBen is passionate about helping people experience both the physical and mental benefits of exercise. He has developed and delivered group fitness classes at Orange

Theory Fitness and boxing classes at United Athletics. He's also worked with special needs populations at West Park Health Care, and has seen first-hand what it takes to go from being confined to bed to doing jumping jacks. Ben is dedicated to giving those he works with the personalized guidance to help every individual succeed.

Ben is currently a student at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, and is a Registered Kinesiologist. He holds a Specialized Honours Bachelors of Science in

Kinesiology & Health Science from York University, where he was a member of the Dean’s List and Golden Key International Honours Society. While in university, Benjamin challenged his body and mind through special interests in boxing and chess.

Joining the Rock Steady Boxing Toronto team in June 2016, Ben was a dedicated volunteer who never failed to motivate our boxers. He continues to bring his passion as a

Rock Steady Boxing-certified coach to help athletes achieve and maintain physical and mental wellness.

Ben has a cat that loves to cuddle and keep him company while he reads books and watches Netflix. He is always open to challenging and exciting hobbies.

Qualifications:

  • Rock Steady Boxing coaching certification
  • Doctor of Chiropractic (candidate, 3rd year), Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
  • Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology and Health Science, York University
  • Registered Kinesiologist, College of Kinesiologist of Ontario
  • Basic Life Saving Instructor HCP Level C, Red Cross Society