"I No Longer Feel Like the Incredible Shrinking Woman"
So it’s early January and we’re in the Florida Keys. My dear husband shows me an article in the Miami Herald about a Rock Steady Boxing program in Miami.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009, so it sounds good. I call RSB Miami, and a young woman answers the phone and also answers all my questions in a patient, encouraging manner. I go.
I show up and meet a man who is equally as friendly and welcoming. Then this Steve fellow comes along. He is warm, friendly, unassuming and seems sincerely interested in me. I learn that this humble man is Steve Arintok, the owner/manager of all that surrounds me.
I walk over to the boxing gym, and there they all are…my peeps, folks like myself who have been inducted involuntarily into this PD tribe. I am welcomed by a participant who introduces me around. Class begins and we spend the next hour doing a variety of exercises aimed at addressing just about everything PD tampers with (which unfortunately, is just about everything) while we are laughing, straining and working up a serious sweat.
We are supported and tended to lovingly by a committed team of our marvelous care partners along the sidelines. At the end of the class, we end with all hands atop Steve’s repeating a mantra of never giving up and not going down without a fight – and this manages to bring me to tears.
My next session is at Tropical Park [RSB Miami’s second gym] where we meet and are warmly welcomed to a real deal boxing center. Now this is what I’m talking about! I put on my gloves and I no longer feel like the incredible shrinking woman PD seems to be trying to make of me. I feel gritty, tough, very much alive and, to quote Coach Steve, “like one badass mo fo.”
Steve, with his gentle yet firm encouragement (just when you think you’re gonna die, he yells, “thirty more seconds!”), humble strength and patience, and constant messages (“I like what I’m seeing,” and “You guys are awesome”) pushes us beyond what we believe we are capable of.
Coach Gloria encourages and expertly trains us and truly personifies the shirt she wears that reads Strong is Beautiful, and Coach Dave’s unique humor and skilled training is priceless. And then there is Coach Joe who refers to himself as the silent partner, who is the one who works behind the scenes to keep it all afloat.
I can never find the words to thank all of you enough, and so by the powers vested in me…by me, I officially designate you The Rock Steady Boxing Dream Team.
– Bonnie, 71, boxed with RSB Miami until she returned home to Philadelphia where she joined a local RSB program. Her neurologist has noted that her overall well-being has improved
the stability of some of her PD symptoms and reduced others.