Fighting Parkinson’s Disease by using boxing at first sounds counter-productive. It’s not the sparring, but the training that produces good results.

Sioux Falls now has a Rock Steady Boxing gym dedicated to helping those affected by Parkinson’s located at the Inn on Westport with a Grand Opening on Thursday (May 18). Already four clients are punching their way through Parkinson’s.

Meldon Kroeger has the normal symptoms that most Parkinson’s patients would have. He also has a deep understanding of how his life is different now.

“Parkinson’s will get you down in a hurry. It can be depressing because it also tightens you up. I used to talk to my toes, speaking with my head down. They are teaching me to stand up straight and talk to your nose. Sometimes with my Parkinson’s the connection from the brain to the mouth is not as good as it should be. (In my career) I was a salesman. Losing the ability to talk is a bad thing.”

Other physical cues Kroeger takes from the workouts include speaking loudly. Program coordinator Lisa Howard said the program requires it. “We yell in class. They are punching the bag and yelling loud.”

Associating with others that are going through the same trials gives everyone an opportunity to work together. From every accomplishment to every word of support, it all has a special meaning.

“(It really helps) being around other patients and the instructors that encourage you. When starting a workout and not be able complete a task is discouraging. Then a couple hours later after class, I go back and succeed.”

Rock Steady Boxing was started in 2006 by lawyer Scott Newman and world champion boxer Kristy Rose Follmar in Indiana. Newman fell prey to Parkinson’s at age 39. With Follmar’s help, the two have developed the program that has expanded across the nation.

The Grand Opening will feature demonstrations, live music from the Hegg Brothers plus refreshments from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The Inn on Westport is located at 4000 South Westport Avenue in Sioux Falls.

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