A Testament to What Rock Steady Boxing Can Do to Combat Parkinson’s Disease

Member Spotlight: Allan Lowe

He was shocked when he found out. Allan Lowe was walking into the office of his wife’s doctor, to support her during a consultation, when the doctor asked Allan, “How long have you had Parkinson’s?” It made him stop dead in his tracks. “I don’t have Parkinson’s,” Allan replied.

The doctor noticed Allan was walking in a shuffle pattern – an early sign of the disease. After being tested, Allan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 77.

Approximately 1 million Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, with 60,000 new cases emerging each year. Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Symptoms include tremors, slowed movement, impaired posture/balance and slurred speech. Although there is no cure yet, there are treatment options that range from medication and surgery to exercise. In fact, there is growing consensus that exercise is not just ‘healthy’ for those with Parkinson’s Disease; it is a “vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and daily living activities,” per the National Parkinson’s Foundation.

Initially, to combat the progression that Parkinson’s takes, Allan was doing exercises prescribed by his doctors daily, in addition to medication. But after reading an article about the benefits of boxing for people with Parkinson’s, he immediately began researching places that offered boxing classes near his home and discovered Champion Boxing & Fitness.

Allan Lowe was never a boxer and certainly wouldn’t have imagined picking up boxing skills at the age of 81 but he signed up and participated in the first ever Rock Steady Boxing class at Champion in 2016, one of only two people in the class. Now the class has six boxers and not only is he the oldest in his class, at the age of 83, he is taking the more difficult of the two classes offered.

Rock Steady involves intense exercise that improves speed, strength, balance and flexibility. It’s a non-contact boxing-inspired fitness routine specifically intended to improve the ability of Parkinson’s patients to live independent lives. Boxing works by moving the body in all planes of motion while continuously changing the routine as the workout progresses. Providing encouragement through a ‘tough love’ approach, the classes focuses on flexibility, strengthening of arms, legs, neck and shoulders, mobility and coordination. It wouldn’t seem like a fitness program that someone in their 80s would be interested it, but Allan embraces it with passion and his efforts have paid off.

In the two years since Allan discovered Champion Boxing & Fitness and started the Rock Steady program, he has noticed a positive change in his symptoms. For one thing, his balance and posture have improved significantly.

“I know this,” he says, “because my doctors point it out, saying how good my posture has stayed. Rock Steady has drastically slowed down the advancement of my disease.”

Even on a social level, Rock Steady has been enormously helpful. By being around others at the gym who are struggling with the same disease, Allan knows he is not alone in his fight. He has the support of his instructors and the camaraderie of his classmates.

Allan admits that Rocky Steady isn’t the “end all be all” treatment for Parkinson’s. He still takes medication and does his daily routine of exercises, but he strongly suggests other patients also combine daily exercises with the Rock Steady classes as he has done.

Rock Steady’s unique focus on attacking Parkinson’s at its vulnerable neurological points, focusing on overall fitness, strength training, reaction time and balance makes it an invaluable addition to any treatment plan for the disease. And as Allan has proven, you’re never too old to start the fight.

The Muscle Building Rules For Naturally Skinny Guys

The Muscle Building Rules For Naturally Skinny Guys

Genetically skinny guys can sometimes have a really hard time when trying to gain weight and muscle. However, success in boxing is also directly correlated to muscle mass. More muscle mass equals more force behind your punch. Even though building muscle mass shouldn’t be the sole objective of a training program, as many elements are necessary to be a successful boxer, there are some tips you can follow to build muscle and make working out a habit.

The Importance of Weight Training

In order to build muscle, it’s necessary to weight train three days per week, with a 48-hour rest and recovery period in between sessions. In this case, it is counterproductive to train every day; rather, less is more. Weight training will stimulate muscle growth but, in order to grow, your muscles also need time to repair. Giving your muscles time to repair will also allow them to add new muscle mass, and this only happens when you are resting. Naturally thin individuals tend to require more rest and less training than others who gain muscle more easily.

Up Your Calorie Intake

Muscle gain is also achieved by consuming more calories every day. However, it is necessary to consume healthy calories, packed with nutrients which come from protein, vitamins, minerals and whole grain carbohydrates. Aim to eat roughly once every three hours which translates to about 6 meals every day; your meals should ideally contain one source of protein and be quite substantial, in order to get you through your training program and to meet your energy needs.  After workouts, it is best to consume carbohydrates as they create a raise in isnulin levels, effectively slowing down the rate at which protein is broken down. This, in turn, will help you rebuild muscle faster. 

Use Protein Supplements

Protein shakes can be a good way to consume more calories needed for muscle building. They give you a quick way to consume muscle-building compounds and are easy to take with you and consume. Take the protein shakes 30 to 60 minutes before working out, as they are easily absorbed and maximise your weight training. 

Embrace the Advantage of Being Naturally Thin

Although a thin boxer may not be particularly intimidating upon entering the ring, there are certain advantages to this body type. Thin boxers are usually faster and much agiler, and therefore manage to avoid damaging punches. This can create a frustrating and tiring situation for the opponent, which will allow you to take control of the fight and dictate the rules. 

Can Dancing Boost Your Boxing Skills?

When Juan Manuel Marquez was training for his fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2011, he enlisted the help of a ballet instructor to help him strengthen his legs and improve his footwork. Timing, balance, and footwork are all essential facets of boxing and could mean the difference between winning or losing a fight. Boxers tend to spend hours skipping rope and running through a variety of drills to improve their footwork, which is one of the hardest boxing skills to develop as there are no real shortcuts to it.

While traditional footwork exercises may feel cumbersome after a while, dancing could very well be holding the key to the exact training boxers are desperately seeking. Many forms of martial arts have been compared to dancing in some form with Capoeira even having some dance moves included in it.  

How can dancing benefit boxers?

Dance styles such as ballet and ballroom dancing can boost the value of any exercise program by teaching boxers technical dance steps, balance, and rhythm. These newly acquired skills will not only help improve footwork but hip movement as well. Dancing is also invaluable as a cardio workout, especially when engaging in styles such as tap and hip-hop. Coupled with a fat shedding diet, dancing can have a significant impact on a boxer’s physique. Ballet, on the other hand, can teach boxers improved self-control, flexibility and improved balance.

Dancing not only benefits your body, it benefits your mind as well. By increasing serotonin levels your mood will be enhanced, making you feel happier and more confident, both of which will improve your performance in the ring.

Some types of dances require fast decision making as you change positions which will be beneficial to both a boxer’s mind and feet while fighting. This can be especially of benefit to boxers who take a lot of hits to the head.

Why aren’t more boxers dancing?

The answer to this question is more than likely two-fold. A lot of men steer clear from dancing because they do not think it befits their masculinity. Boxing is the epitome of manliness and somehow sweating it out in a ballet studio simply does not carry the same appeal as doing shadow-punching in a gym. The second reason dancing has not become inclusive in the training programs may be due to the fact that most boxers have simply never given it any thought. The fact that renowned boxers such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Laila Ali and Floyd Mayweather have all participated on the hit TV show ‘Dancing With The Stars’ should have hinted that boxing and dancing do complement each other, whether you consciously acknowledge it or not.

Apart from the physical benefits dancing can hold for boxers, it can also benefit them psychologically as it is a great stress and anxiety reliever. Taking all the benefits of dancing into consideration it is surprising that not more boxers have taken to the sport to help swing their odds in the ring in their favor.

Weight Loss Success Story!

Congrats to one of our members, Felicia, on her amazing weight loss story!

Felicia came into our gym back in 2013 and began working hard with one of our personal trainers. Throughout her journey she had ups and downs but the highs have definitely won out because she recently weighed in at 147.8 lbs. After attending personal training 92 times, Felicia has lost a total of 115.8 lbs!!

Help us in congratulating Felicia on her amazing progress to a happy and healthy body.

Check out Felicia’s before and after photos of her amazing transformation!


Felicia's Weight Loss


The Importance of Heart Rate Monitors

Dr. H. James Harrington said, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.  If you can’t understand it, you can’t improve it.  if you can’t control it, you can’t improve it”.

Most people know what a heart rate monitor does, but they don’t know the importance of heart rate monitors. A heart rate monitor is a great tool that does exactly what its’ name implies, it measures your heart rate, or how many times a minute your heart beats.  It is important for your safety and success as it lets you know how hard you are working, which ensures the safety of your fitness workout.  Whether you are a beginner who’s just starting to work out, or a professional athlete looking to hit specific fitness goals, a heart monitor allows you to see how hard you are working at the gym.
Think of your heart as a muscle and the harder you work it, the stronger it gets and aerobic exercise is the best way to work it.  The more you exercise your heart, the more you lower your resting heart rate (RHR).  A stronger heart pumps more blood per beat, so the same work is performed with less beats. A healthy heart will help prevent cardio disease/heart attacks. 

For the maximum benefit from your cardio workout it is recommended you work out at 50% – 85% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).  To calculate your MHR, deduct your age from 220.  Keep in mind, that  your MHR can be off up to 10% using this method, as heart rate levels vary depending on your fitness level, nutrition, medications, genetics, and environment.  After you have calculated your MHR with the above method, check your heart rate monitor to determine if you need to lower or increase your intensity level.
We cannot underemphasize the importance of heart rate monitors. We recommend a heart rate monitor for everybody that works out and encourage you to inquire at the front desk about our MyZone heart monitors (we have made them very affordable for our members). In addition to measuring your heart rate, MyZone measures calories burned and your effort level, which allows you to set goals and evaluate your progress while enjoying a safe workout.
Learn more about our MyZone program.

Exercise Tips for Seniors

There is always an excuse to be sedentary. However, for the estimated 46 million elderly people in the US who are aged 65 years and above, physical activity is very important for healthy aging and to increase mobility & functioning. The benefits of exercise or physical movement are enormous, including improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance. It also helps increases cognitive function, reduces obesity, lowers risk of diseases and medical conditions including cancers, coronary problems & hip fractures and promotes better mental health by reducing depression and anxiety. Some exercise tips for seniors include finding a partner who you can go on walks with, hiring a personal trainer who can create a personalized plan for you, and making sure you set aside time every day for physical activity.

Elderly people can choose different types of exercise that are suitable to their physical condition. Seniors vary in their abilities to perform physical functions whether due to a chronic illness or the effects of aging. Going to the gym, performing floor exercises, vigorous walking or aerobics are possible options for seniors. What is important is to engage in physical activity, however small. 

Explore our workout options and contact us for more exercise tips for seniors and to see what exercises our trainers recommend for you.

How To Treat a Pulled Muscle

The most common sports injuries are injuries to your muscles, tendons and/or ligaments.  These soft tissue injuries can be either an acute injury or a chronic injury.  An acute injury is an injury that occurs at a specific and identifiable time, and if not treated properly, can become a chronic injury. A chronic injury is the result of overuse and repetitive movements.

Pulled muscles are caused by:

  • Lack of proper warm-up;
  • Lack of flexibility;
  • Lack of conditioning;
  • Fatigue;
  • Over-exertion.

A pulled muscle is painful and can cause swelling, bruising and loss of function. The severity of the injury is determined by whether you have strained the muscle or torn the muscle.  A severe strain or tear may require medical attention.

How To Treat a Pulled Muscle

The recommended protocol for treating a pulled muscle is the P.R.I.C.E. principle.  P.R.I.C.E. is an acronym for the following:

P- Protect the injury by stopping the activity;
R- Rest the injured muscle by avoiding any painful movements;
I- Ice the injured area ASAP, every 20 minutes of every hour you are awake.  Ice will reduce the pain and the swelling;
C- Compress the injury with elastic wrap to provide support and reduce swelling;
E-Elevate the injured area to further reduce swelling.

Our other recommendation on how to treat a pulled muscle is to take an anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Aleve.

Keep the above in mind the next time you strain or pull a muscle during an activity.  Immediately stop your activity and follow the P.R.I.C.E. principle to lessen the severity of the injury and shorten the healing time.

Ready to get back in the game? Sign up for a class today!

What to Do When You Hit A Plateau

This is the year you have committed to changing unhealthy habits and working out. Your diet is on point and the workouts are a regular part of your week. At first, the changes to your body are obvious, and people are noticing until it happens. The weight loss comes to a screeching halt, but you are still working just as hard! You have hit a fitness plateau and it feels like you have hit a brick wall. Here are some tips on what to do when you hit a plateau to kick start the positive momentum.

Give yourself credit for the meaning of a plateau

When the results slow or stop altogether it is easy to feel let down or like you have done something wrong. In reality, the plateau isn’t a sign of you doing anything wrong, it’s a positive sign that your efforts are becoming a part of who you are. It is a sign that you have changed your overall health level and your body is making adjustments. It is a new normal for you and your body is in balance.

Get F.I.T.T.

According to the American Heart Association, the best way to break through a fitness plateau is to use their F.I.T.T. System to mix things up. F.I.T.T.= “…frequency, intensity, time and type.” Changing one or more of these components of your workout routine can mix things up enough to jumpstart the changes you are looking for in your body.

An example of a change that can have a big impact is looking at what types of fitness you are focusing on and adding a bigger variety. If you are doing a lot of running, add in some weight training for strength. Adding cardio to a workout week that is mainly weight training can have a similar boost for change.

Build in rest and recovery and keep things fun

When you made a commitment to get healthy, you may have gone all out and skipped a simple bit of down time to let your body recover. Adding in time to rest and let your body recover can actually help to prepare yourself to improve. It is a misconception that if working out 5 days a week is working for you working out every day will work even better. It is possible to train too much if you are expecting change and not to just maintain a certain level.

Rest and recovery are essential aspects of avoiding burnout. If you overdo it in your workouts, you may get tired of what you’re doing and start taking shortcuts more often or skipping days you would normally hit the gym. Another aspect of avoiding burnout is keeping things fun. Try new forms of working out each week or seek out other ways to spice things up–for example, you might take your dog with you on a hike or try a Krav Maga class with a friend. When a workout is fun, you’ll actually look forward to doing it, and that’s a great way to keep yourself on track.

Change small things to see big results

Changing too many things at once may not give your body time to adjust and make changes. It is better to change a few things like doing a larger number of reps at a lower weight than your regular lift for several weeks, Not only is it suggested that you make small changes, but it is also good to give these changes time to work. You may not see immediate jumps in progress but over a few weeks, the momentum will show again.

Measure and celebrate all types of progress

Workouts or new fitness goals are usually tied to a certain magical goal of losing a certain amount of weight or something that is pretty easy to measure. Focusing on just the numbers of weight loss can be frustrating if you stop seeing the pounds fall off. As you workout, your body is going through a variety of changes that go well beyond just the number on the scale. Start to look at things like body measurements, changes in muscle tone, higher endurance and other changes you will see with improved health. There is a good chance you are still seeing changes, just maybe not the number on the scale.

Taking the time to do things like a selfie each week to track visible changes can do a lot to boost your mood and keep you motivated. You may find you are still making progress, just in a different way. Talk to our trainers to get more ideas on what to do when you hit a plateau. Then, sign up for your next class!

Breathing While Exercising

Proper breathing while exercising is extremely important. Breathing is how we supply our cells, tissues and organs with oxygen. Breathing while exercising is important to:

  • Lower blood pressure;
  • Reduce stress by decreasing stress hormones and increasing the mood enhancing hormone, serotonin;
  • Enhance athletic performance;
  • Improve brain function and focus.

When we inhale, we bring oxygen into our blood to distribute, and when we exhale, we purge our body of toxins and gases, such as carbon dioxide. Proper breathing involves inhaling and exhaling through your nose and breathing into your abdomen, not your chest. To ensure you are breathing correctly, your abs should rise before your chest. If you breathe rapidly with shallow breaths you will often experience a shortness of breath, stressing your heart and lungs.

When exercising always exhale on exertion. Do not hold your breath, as this causes a drop in the energy in your cells, leading to fatigue.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is important to note that one method of breathing while exercising does not work for all workouts. During cardio workouts continuous breathing increases nitric oxide gas, which relaxes arteries and maintains the blood flow needed to sustain rhythmic activity, such as running. While lifting weights you want to inhale on the less strenuous phase of the exercise and exhale on the more strenuous phase. During free-weight exercises or body weight based exericses such as push-ups, a good rule of thumb is to exhale during the phase of exercise where gravity is opposed. Proper breathing will tense your core muscles and aid you in keeping the proper form. Proper breathing also keeps the systolic blood pressure (the active pressure) more normalized and helps prevent a spike in pressure, which may cause several adverse health conditions.

During stretching concentrate on slow, deep breaths. This will help you loosen up as you stretch your muscles and lower the chance of “pulling a muscle”.

If your workout involves plyometrics, it helps stabilize your body when you hold your breath during explosive movements. For example, to keep your body rigid you should focus on holding your breath when your foot strikes the floor.

When you are finished with a tough set of exercises your body is craving oxygen and it needs to be replenished. Remember to breathe deeply into your abdomen(diaphramic breathing), bringing in more oxygen to your body, aiding in a quicker recovery.

During your next workout, keep these points in mind and check yourself to ensure you have the proper breathing techniques. If you find you are not breathing correctly, focus on the proper technique and soon it will become automatic. Be sure to ask our trainers about more tips on breathing while exercising and sign up for your next class!

How To Make Working Out a Habit

Almost everyone would love to create the “Workout Habit” and live a healthy lifestyle. The hard part is creating the habit and making it part of your daily lifestyle. The following are tips on how to make working out a habit:

  1. The first steps to take are to make your workouts part of your daily schedule and to view your workout as a “cannot” miss appointment on your “to do list”. Block the time off on your schedule, and to help ensure that life does not get in the way, plan it for the first thing in the morning. To make getting to the gym easier, gather up what you need for your workout the night before and set it aside, so everything is ready for you. Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts.
  2. Find yourself a workout partner.  You are more likely to show up at the gym if you know someone is depending on you to be there.
  3. Try different forms of exercise until you find the workout regimen you like.  Once you have the workout you enjoy, it will make getting to the gym a whole lot easier.
  4. Start off slow and easy and build on it.  This will help you avoid injury and prepare yourself mentally and physically for more intense workouts to come.
  5. Look at exercise in a positive light and tell yourself that you, “want to workout”.  Remind yourself how great you feel after working out and visualize how the “new you” will look!
  6. Set a goal and commit to it by writing it down.  We are much more likely to commit to a goal if we have committed to it in writing.
  7. Remember, you will not always get a great workout in, but a bad workout is always better than the one you did not do.  Some exercise is better than none!
  8. Measure your workouts.  With today’s technology it is easy to track the intensity of your efforts.  It is a lot easier to improve something, if you have an accurate way of measuring it.

Working out is like many things in life; If it were easy, everybody would do it! Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts and keep in mind, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are absolutely right”! The secret to how to make working out a habit is to just believe you can.

Ready to get started? Check out our class schedule and sign up for a free class!