Punching Back at Parkinson’s

Ballard Fitness Offers Classes For Those Fighting Neurological Disease

For those living with Parkinson’s disease, exercise and fitness can improve the quality of life, providing more mobility for longer periods.

Ballard Fitness of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, has created four levels of boxing classes designed to help those with Parkinson’s pack a punch while living with the neurological disorder.

Participants in owner Gary Ballard’s Parkinson’s classes report that the calisthenics, stretching, and non-impact boxing have a positive impact. They report lessened symptoms, more fluid movements, and even a reduction in needed medication. They say their lives are happier and healthier, thanks to the workouts provided at Ballard Fitness.

The Ballard Fitness program is modeled after the first such program, which was launched by Rock Steady Boxing in Indianapolis. For owner and personal trainer Gary Ballard, the Parkinson’s boxing program has had a profound impact.

“It has been incredible to see the drive and persistence of these individuals,” said Ballard. “I have seen how hard they work and the profound improvements in their lives after taking these classes. I’m thrilled we’re able to help those living with Parkinson’s live healthier and richer lives.”

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative central nervous system disorder. The disease can progress slowly or rapidly. In its early stages, Parkinson’s primarily affects motor skills. Patients may shake, have rigid limb movements, slower movements, and some difficulty walking. As the disease progresses, patients begin to have cognitive and behavioral problems, including depression, dementia, sleep disorders, sensory issues, and emotional difficulties.

The disease kills off cells in the midbrain that generate dopamine. What causes this cell death is not fully understood. Most cases have no known cause, although a small portion of cases can be linked to genetic factors. Other factors that may contribute to Parkinson’s are exposure to certain pesticides, herbicides or heavy metals, or head injuries. There is some evidence that living in farming or rural areas and exposure to contaminated well water may also play a role.

Exercise, especially in middle age, is found to reduce the incidence of Parkinson’s. Getting appropriate exercise is a critical component for Parkinson’s patients and it has been shown to improve flexibility, gait speed, mobility, strength and overall quality of life. In addition to the physical benefits, the boxing classes offer as-important emotional and social benefits for people living with Parkinson’s.

Ballard Fitness offers four levels of classes for Parkinson’s patients, based on the severity of their symptoms and overall fitness levels. Class placement is based on an individual assessment by a trained Ballard Fitness instructor and are generally based on the Hoehn & Yahr staging scale commonly used in Parkinson’s treatment.

In addition to boxing, the workouts involve the use of toys, footballs and basketballs. The primary aims are to keep morale high, maintain participants’ interest in coming to class, and providing a fun outlet.

The Parkinson’s boxing classes are just one of many programs offered by Ballard Fitness. For personal training or one-on-one workouts with a world champion fighter, count on Ballard Fitness at its Rancho Santa Margarita location and serving the surrounding areas, including Coto de Caza, Trabuco Canyon, Lake Forest, and Las Flores.

A cure is not guaranteed and fitness results may vary.

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