Ruth Burr

"I Feel Like I Have a New Family"

Before I started going to Rock Steady Boxing St. George, Utah, classes I learned to walk next to furniture or a wall because I was falling fairly often. I was tripping or stumbling or starting to fall between one and 20 times each day. When I would get on the floor, I could not get up without a lot of help. This meant that I learned to avoid getting down on the floor.

It is very interesting, and discouraging, to live in a body where you watch it deteriorate – slowly, in some ways, and faster in other ways. It is defeating and hard to describe how it diminishes hope. My husband and I have coped fairly well with it for a number of years, but when Coach Travis Marx came to our Parkinson’s support group and talked about Rock Steady Boxing, it opened new doors.

I struggled to keep the tears away as he explained the program, and after the meeting, my husband and I realized this was exactly what I needed.

When I started going to the boxing program, it made a dramatic difference! My balance gradually got better and I stopped stumbling and falling. I also gradually started being able to get up from the floor. At first, these improvements were slow and awkward, but my abilities improved a great deal.

I went from a walker to a cane – and now I use neither.

It turned out there is another part of the program that I didn’t expect, and in some ways it is the best part for me. I found myself interacting with others who are going through the same thing I am going through. They know what I am experiencing, and we understand and support each other in some sort of unique, meaningful and deep way. I feel like I have a new family. If I did not get any other benefit from the program than being with the others, I would be happy to be there.

When Travis started the class, there were 10 or 12 “fighters,” with their “corner men (or women).” Corner persons stay with their boxer to help them, because some of those involved are quite advanced and if they start to fall they will be there to help. It’s grown so much he had to divide the class, and the two classes are still growing. We love it and love Travis! We also love Travis’s wife Lori who is a partner in this marvelous endeavor.

I would not trade the RSB experience for anything in the world. We talk (and it has to be loudly), we laugh, we dance (some not so gracefully, but who cares), we exercise, we stretch, we play games, and we box. I have had to make it clear to friends and family that we do not box each other. We hit four different kinds of bag. And, most importantly, we share, and when we talk we learn a bit of the essence of each other – our likes, our passions, our struggles, our successes and our failures, our love of life.

We all know that RSB is not going to cure Parkinson’s but it helps us cope with it in some beautiful ways.   – Ruth Burr, RSB St. George, UT