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Power of the Punch

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FIGHTING BACK: Rock Steady Boxing coach Anastasia Alter, right, prepares to demonstrate the program with Frankfort resident Eric Spencerduring Tuesday's Kiwanis meeting at Wesley Manor.
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KEEP MOVING: Coach Anastasia Alter explains the benefits of Rock Steady Boxing for those dealing with Parkinson's Disease.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

Tuesday was the first day for Rock Steady Boxing in Clinton County, and coach Anastasia Alter spoke about the program for those dealing with Parkinson's Disease during the Kiwanis' meeting at Wesley Manor in Frankfort.

Alter was the guest of 65-year-old Frankfort resident and Kiwanis member Eric Spencer, who is one of eight Clinton County residents who were already benefiting from participating in the program at Witham Health in Lebanon. The program is now offered from 12:10-1:10 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday at the Clinton County Family YMCA in Frankfort. As Spencer and Alter spoke at Tuesday's meeting, the Clinton County Family YMCA was hosting its first Rock Steady Boxing class, coached by Erin Schwein.

Spencer says the program has helped him both physically and mentally.

“I feel like I am stronger, have a better sense of balance,” Spencer said. “The fellowship, camaraderie and support there is tremendous. It is just a real positive experience, all-around.”

Spencer learned of the program through his retired doctor, Rick Beardsley, who was familiar with the program.

“I got online and looked for locations, and Witham was the closest one. So, I started at the beginning of August,” Spencer said. “I definitely feel stronger and more flexible. I still get sore, but that is OK. It has gotten me out of the recliner and doing some workouts. It is something I look forward to and would hate to miss.”

Coach Alter says that, if you have Parkinson's, you need to get into some kind of extracurricular activity and fight back from your disease.

“We are teaching you to fight back,” she said. “This strenuous, high-intensity exercise really does work. I tell them to just get there, and we will do the rest together … There are just so many people who are fighting Parkinson's. When you have each other to cope with it together and fight back, that is where the magic happens.

“If you know anyone with Parkinson's, they need to get on rocksteadyboxing.org, and there are all kinds of resources on there,” Alter added. “The boxing is a lot of full-extension. It helps with aggression. People who are diagnosed with Parkinson's go through a little bit of depression in the very beginning. So, when you get to come to class, put those gloves on and punch something, the tremors start to disappear at that moment, and you are able to feel some relief. The power of the punch is where it is at.”

Rock Steady Boxing was started by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman in 2006. The non-profit organization now has more than 700 affiliates worldwide.

“I am really glad that they started Rock Steady Boxing here in Frankfort on Tuesdays and Thursday's at the YMCA,” Spencer said. “I would encourage people who have Parkinson's to check it out. We have it locally, so it is very convenient.”

Shirley Taylor has also been taking advantage of the program.

“It is wonderful,” Taylor said. “I was holding my arm and not talking a lot, and I talk a lot now and I move my arm and my foot. Between my medicine and my exercise, it is wonderful. Anyone who knows anyone with Parkinson's should tell them about Rock Steady.”