When John Lawson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about six years ago, everything changed.
In his younger days, Lawson, now 68 and a former delivery driver for Allentown Beverage Co., used to go by the nickname “The Bud Man,” for how well he could carry 161.5-pound kegs of Budweiser and how good he was at throwing them back after the work was done.
“When he used to work at Allentown Beverage he would carry two kegs at one time. He was a bull,” said his wife, Holly Lawson. “To see him go from how strong he was before he got diagnosed to what happened after hit harder than anything else.”
But because of Parkinson’s, Lawson deals with significant muscle stiffness and his hands experience the tremors that the disease is famous for. He also lost his coordination when walking and his gait became uneven, leading him to use a walker.
Lawson said he fell into a depression; he retired at 62 and spent most of his time sitting around his house, rarely getting out of his chair.
That went on for years. But things changed when he started boxing nearly every Tuesday last May.
Lawson is one of the first to attend Rock Steady Boxing at Lehigh Valley Health Network Fitness, a science-backed, no-contact boxing program specifically created for people with Parkinson’s. Thanks to the classes, he’s out of his slump and in the best shape he’s been in since the diagnosis. His wife said he can move around without his walker.
“I look forward to these days. I hate to miss them,” Lawson said. “I wish two or three times a week I could do the boxing.”
Rock Steady classes start with stretching before moving onto some lightweight lifting, bodyweight exercises and a little bag work before finally transitioning to boxing, which includes bag work, focus mitt training and shadow boxing. All the while, a Spotify playlist blasts hit tracks by AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Def Leopard, Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest, keeping the participants energized.
Andrew Ference, exercise physiologist for LVHN Fitness, helped bring Rock Steady to LVHN and now teaches the Rock Steady class at LVHN Fitness-Cedar Crest. Ferrence said there is still open space for people to join the class. At the moment classes are usually about six to eight people.
Classes at LVHN Fitness are not covered by insurance but a membership is only $44 per month for a membership; pay-as-you-go options are also available, with each class costing $8 per session.
Parkinson’s disease and exercise
Though the most obvious effects of the disease are physical, such as unintended or uncontrolled shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination, Parkinson’s is a neurological…
Read More: Rock Steady Boxing at LVHN provides hope to people with Parkinson’s Disease 2023-09-12 11:02:38