LAS CRUCES – Austin Trout will be remembered as a world champion boxer in Las Cruces. His legacy also includes giving back to the community.
Trout and his wife, Taylor Trout, started a Rock Steady Boxing affiliated gym in DoÃ±a Ana with the goal of helping people fight the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
âI connect every part of my life with boxing,â he said. “(Rock Steady) was a way to give back to the sport that has helped me so much.”
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to produce dopamine. Symptoms, which usually develop later in a person’s life, can include hand tremors, as well as stiff or weak limbs leading to problems with walking and balance. Symptoms progress at different rates depending on the severity of the disease.
Boxer Muhammad Ali was one of the best-known people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It is not known if Ali’s symptoms are the result of his boxing career, according to a PBS News Hour article published in 2016 after Ali’s death.
“It is very difficult to say in almost all cases what causes Parkinson’s disease,” said Todd Sherer, CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research, PBS said.
But can boxing help people with Parkinson’s disease regain some of their lost motor skills? Yes, say the founders of Rock Steady Boxing, which offers international contactless boxing lessons.
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âBoxing and high-intensity interval trainingâ¦ are starting to create new pathways for making the same connections that were cut,â Trout said. âWe keep creating new ones with the workouts. When we do a combination, they also have to think about what the number represents and then the body has to perform what the numbers represent.â
While Trout said some have shown surprising boxing abilities, the goal is to keep members independent for as long as possible while providing community in the gym.
âParkinson’s disease doesn’t affect a lot of people, but everyone might know someone who has it,â said Taylor Trout. âThe point is for some people to be told that boxing won’t stop it, but in many cases it can help reverse it.
“It can help maintain their normal daily activities. It is an isolated and lonely disease, so being with others helps physically and mentally.”
Rock Steady Boxing was established in Indianapolis in 2006 and Austin and Taylor Trout opened Las Cruces Gym as an Affiliate Member in 2019.
âThis may just be my goal and my calling,â said Austin Trout. “Don’t get me wrong, I want another belt, but we’ve put a lot of time and energy into it.”
In August, Trout won his third consecutive fight – beating Mexican Alejandro Davila in a 10-round decision at 154 pounds – to improve to 34-5-1. His next fight is in the works.
‘We are in the same boat’
In addition to improving physical strength, the Rock Steady Boxing Gym creates a sense of community.
âEven some of the quieter people really opened up,â Austin Trout said. “You can hear them talking about garbage now. The social side is as good as the mental and physical work we do.”
The Las Cruces gymnasium has 20 members with a one-hour class twice a week, led by Marlene Schauer and Cris Rodriguez.
Schauer has a master’s degree and a 20-year career in physiotherapy. She also participated in bodybuilding and triathlon competitions. She specialized in geriatric physiotherapy. After taking a class at Police Athletic League Gym, she approached Trout and offered to help her.
âInstead of doing everything just for the left or just for the right (side of the body), they need that left-right, left-right movement,â Schauer said. âAs you can see, some people when they walk they look like a dragging stick. If they cannot unfold, they contract or stiffen to the point of losing their balance reactions, the writing reactions. , they lose their stamina, they lose their strength and range of motion. “
As members progress through workouts, they strive to improve voice activation, flexibility, range of motion, and core strength, all with the goal of limit falls, fractures and life-threatening cardiopulmonary disease, all of which can lead to staying in bed.
âThey are not alone and people are suffering from the same issues as they are,â Schauer said. “Studies show that as long as you keep moving, you will keep moving.”
Jon Roberts, 68, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, but began to experience symptoms before that when he struggled to move his hands in the morning after writing Christmas cards the night before. He said the workouts slowed the development of symptoms.
âIt’s been really beneficial for me, not only with what we do, but also mentally,â said Roberts. “I don’t have to be perfect to do these exercises and it’s the same with everyone. We’re all in the same boat.”
Rob Rutledge, 72, found the gym through word of mouth in his support group and, in connection with his fellow gym members, also found a neurologist in Albuquerque.
âVoice activation so I can speak louder and more clearly,â said Rutledge, diagnosed four years ago. “Also my balance because of core strength. It was a big thing for me.”
Linda Joyner, 79, was diagnosed three years ago and has been coming to the gym for six months as her neurologist stresses the need for exercise.
âI’m a lot stronger, my balance is a lot better,â Joyner said. âI am confident that I can go shopping with my friends without having to sit down. I can do some gardening and step over rocks. It makes you think and react physically.
“I love it here and would recommend it to anyone.”
Rock Steady boxing classes are held at No Doubt Training Academy, 5597 Elks Drive. For information, e-mail [email protected] or call 575-650-0351.