Rock Steady Boxing program helps patients with Parkinson’s disease thrive

April 11, 2023

With a jab, cross, hook, George Bertalotto moves a few steps toward a healthier future. For five years, Bertalotto – a retired nurse from Veterans Home of California, Yountville – has attended Napa's Active Wellness Center’s Rock Steady Boxing program, a class designed to give people with Parkinson’s disease hope by improving their quality of life through a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum. The program is located inside the Queen's Wellness Center and is supported by contributions to Queen of the Valley Foundation.

“I have been attending Rock Steady Boxing three days a week with my wife or my brother as a cornerman,” said Bertalotto, who cared for patients with Parkinson’s disease for 20 years before being diagnosed himself at age 40. “I enjoy a heartfelt fist bump and a cheer after each class session. Rock Steady Boxing builds up my stamina so I can ride my trike and take walks with my walker downtown.”

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease and another 90,000 people are diagnosed with the illness each year. The Rock Steady Boxing program aims to help patients regain their confidence and reduce or delay the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Based on training used by professional boxers, the Rock Steady Boxing program is led by trained coaches and relies on adapted boxing drills to increase patient’s balance, endurance, agility, hand-eye coordination, cardiovascular strength and cognition. The small classes are offered three times a week at four different levels to allow people of all ages and abilities to thrive.

“Medical research has shown that forced, intense exercise like the Rock Steady Program can significantly improve the physical impairments that Parkinson’s disease creates in the body,” said Onna Hadley, programs coordinator at Napa’s Active Wellness Center and lead coach of Rock Steady Boxing. “Our own Rock Steady boxers have seen grown in their dynamic and static balance, total body coordination, cardiovascular endurance and cognitive abilities.”

Beyond the physical benefits of the program, Rock Steady Boxing provides a supportive and motivating community environment for patients where everyone can work together to relieve stress and boost their confidence.

In honor of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month this April, Napa’s Active Wellness Center is hosting an open house for its Rock Steady Boxing program on Saturday, April 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The free community event is open to anyone interested in learning more about the program, including those with Parkinson’s Disease, medical personnel and family members.

Please click here to register for the open house.

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