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Boxing Class Puts Parkinson’s Symptoms on the Ropes

by and on October 23, 2018 5:00 AM

Boxing is a sport that requires agility, speed and strength — some of the very qualities that degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease tend to rob from patients. For nearly two years, Victory Sports and Fitness has been offering Boxing for Parkinson’s, a class designed to help patients fight to maintain and regain their mobility.

According to Rob Oshinskie, founder and president of Victory Sports, the class is not just for Parkinson’s patients, but for any senior adults who may want to work on their gross motor skills for any reason and who want to try something different. The class was developed by Victory trainer Scott Everhart.

“Scott came to us originally and said, ‘Hey, listen, there’s some really compelling anecdotal, as well as research-based, evidence out there that boxing is having a positive impact in Parkinson’s patients. It’s something I love and it’s something I have a background in, and I’d really like to get something started.’ So with our Silver Sneakers program, it just made a ton of sense,” said Oshinskie.

Unlike some other national Parkinson’s boxing programs, Everhart’s class integrates different forms of strength training, including using agility ladders or pushing light sleds to help maintain gait patterns. But the non-contact boxing aspect of the class is the key component, offering clients a chance to work on hand-eye coordination, balance and more.

“We know that there are some real benefits when you have an alternating arm action. It does some things in terms of enhancing brain function that are scientifically founded,” Oshinskie said. “Some of it is a ‘use it or lose it’ type of thing. If you stop doing things that require balance and agility, you’re going to lose those things. And I think what we’ve wrongly come to accept is that those qualities cannot return.”

Some of the class participants have seen vast improvements remarkably quickly.

“One of our client’s wives told me that her husband had lost his ability to tie his shoes. After two weeks of this class, he was able to tie his shoes again,” Oshinskie said. “Is that possibly an outlier story? It might be. But what if you’re the one whose body is willing to make those changes?”

Parkinson’s patient Jim Rushing joined the Boxing for Parkinson’s class about five weeks ago, and so far has been pleased with his experience.

“I come home from each class with a smile on my face, (because) I have had an excellent workout thanks to our instructor, Scott, who, along with the class members, creates a very supportive environment for everyone,” he said. “My long-term hope is to delay the loss of physical ability that is inevitable with Parkinson’s disease.”

The gym is about to celebrate its 15th anniversary, according to Oshinskie, and its trainers are well-qualified to help clients who are dealing with physical limitations or age-related issues.

“Our staff is very well-trained and equipped to work with the senior population,” Oshinskie said. “Scott has a really caring way about him in terms of he’s not just taking people through an exercise program, he’s investing in them. And I think if you’re dealing with youth-robbing maladies like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer's, it’s really important to feel like you’ve got someone in your corner — no pun intended.”

Victory Sports and Fitness is located in the Hills Plaza.

For more information, visit or call (814) 235-7676.


This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Karen Walker
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