Sway Clement moves like an athlete. His movements are fluid – a combination of speed and strength honed during his years in the US Army and his training as a personal trainer.
Unlike Clement, the group of more than a dozen people she works with three times a week has been deprived of these attributes. The athleticism and softness aren’t there the way they used to be, having been robbed by the horrible onset of Parkinson’s disease.
About fifteen people follow the courses of the Rock Steady Boxing program initiated by Clément in 2021 in Paris.
“We had five people when we started,” she said.
The boxing program began in 2006 in Indianapolis and has now grown to approximately 300 affiliates across the country. Clement was involved with a branch in Murray and then started Paris lessons in April 2021.
Tim Miller from Paris, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2006, actually started out as a student in Murray classes and now attends local classes, which are held from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at the building of Atkins-Porter recreation. .
“It’s a good thing. It’s helped me with everything,” Miller said. “It’s a bone and joint disease… [in that] it causes stiffness, so this type of movement really helps.
EVERY PATIENT IS DIFFERENT
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that is best known for causing patients to experience body tremors, stiffness, and problems with balance and coordination.
To enroll in the course, students must have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which mainly affects people aged 60 and over.
“It affects everyone differently,” Clement said.
Dyskinesia, a medical term for involuntary and uncontrolled muscle movement, usually makes the limbs harder to move and control.
“Balance is perhaps the biggest issue,” Clement said. “The disease affects things like a patient’s speech, fine motor skills and dexterity.” By teaching patients some of the basics of boxing, Clement, who is a certified Rock Steady Boxing trainer and movement disorder specialist, helps them stabilize their movement and footwork, which helps them in their daily lives.
During each class, patients undergo stretching exercises to improve flexibility, 10-minute warm-ups that involve walking laps around the gym, then getting into boxing drills, working with the heavy bags, recoil bags and concentration mitts.
“That’s really the fun part for them,” Clement said.
A group of about eight volunteers usually help with classes, helping students like Linda Burns from Paris, who attends classes two or three times a week.
“It helped me feel stronger. And it helps me feel better about myself,” said Burns, who has suffered from Parkinson’s disease since 2000.
STUDENTS LOVE THEIR COACH
While Clement has spent the past year helping students improve their balance, core strength, agility, hand-eye coordination and gait, these students have spent that time developing love and respect. for her.
“The best thing she (Clément) does is that she always encourages us. Not everyone is the same. Parkinson’s disease has different outcomes from person to person. She is totally committed to us and cares about us,” Burns said.
“I really like coming to class. By the grace of God, this gets me through another day,” Miller said.
Of Clement, Miller said “she’s here to help people. She’s a beautiful Christian girl who’s here for the right reasons.
Clement was partly inspired to coach Rock Steady Boxing because she had a close relative who had Parkinson’s disease.
She is also a Registered Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) and has received training specific to Parkinson’s disease. She works as a personal trainer and an Ultimate Fitness instructor.
Although great progress has already been made during class, Burns said she still has a major goal ahead of her.
“I want to be able to jump rope, that’s one of my goals,” she said. “I want other people to say ‘if she can do it, I can do it’.”