The Rock Steady Method


Rock Steady Boxing

EA FITNESS proudly conducts Rock Steady Boxing.

The Rock Steady methodology is designed to counter punch the effects of Parkinson's. The scientific research is coming in but the firsthand accounts are plentiful! The majority of participants experience improvements in some if not most of the following symptoms:

  • Tremor - shaking of the hands, jaws, and face
  • Bradykinesia - is slow movement
  • Loss of automatic movement - such as blinking, swinging of the arms or smiling
  • Impaired posture and balance
  • Rigid muscles or stiffness which limits motions and causes pain.
  • Speech changes - slurred, soft, and quick or one hesitates before talking
  • Handwriting - appears to be small or one finds it hard to write.

First off we are going to have FUN! The program will be challenging and inclusive of a variety of techniques all set to the background of moving music. No two classes will be the same your lead instructor is there to provide guidance and assistance in every way possible to ensure your success.

When you are in the boxing program you will improve your agility, balance, overall body strength, flexibility, and hand-eye coordination which have been affected by the disease. It also helps one improve their speech, build muscle strength and it offers the best outlet for frustrations towards the symptoms.

As one throws the punches, they have to think where they are throwing them and this helps in their thoughts, moving and coordination of the body. The energy they use helps in letting go of any frustrations they have on the punching bag and they don’t have to worry about being hit back. One needs to yell and count the punches so as to strengthen their voices and they also stretch to counter muscle rigidity.

We look forward to seeing you in our class soon.

Getting started (orientation)

  • Contact the head trainer to schedule your orientation
  • Orientation includes the following:
    • Class overview
    • Intake paperwork
    • Fitness evaluation
    • Ordering required equipment
      • Boxing gloves and hand wraps

Boxing helpful information and link(s) to articles

Attendee Comments & Class Videos

Read What Our Attendees Have to Say

"Chic and I appreciate and value this program for another vehicle to bridge the gap between Patient and Carepartner."

First and foremost, Chic said he merely agreed to attend to placate and hush me up. I initially introduced the boxing concept long before it came to be with hopes he would be interested but agreed to give it a try after a failed attempt at Tai Chi.

It was after your home assessment and evaluation and putting him at ease did he open up to the possibility, yet still with great trepidation. He approached the first visit with apprehension and agreed to go in the back of his mind always planning for a way out and reason to not return.

Much to Chic's surprise, the first visit was welcoming, no pressure and supportive, yet inwardly desired to strive to make a go of it and felt the encouragement to do so. He no longer felt like an outcast but part of a unified goal. Chic was overwhelmed by the fact the next day even with a rigorous workout that had not happened or able to accomplish in years prior, his physical activity was met with ease, comfort and energy.

We are now into 8 weeks, his stamina has improved, along with his energy level, strength and his gait all of which have improved. Chic longs for his weekly workout and now desires more of this activity if at all possible 2-3x per week.

The Eric and Sandra team provide a unified and cohesive work out team loving the PD patients well and DRIVE them to achieve their own EXCELLENCE whatever that may be within the individual. That is a gift shared because of the varying levels of the disease. To offer Group yet individualized support simultaneously is a gift and a treasure.

Chic and I appreciate and value this program for another vehicle to bridge the gap between Patient and CarePartner. It has given us a gift in our marriage that we share together and share with others in the group who we are growing to know through this amazing Grant. We sincerely thank you, Sandra, SunTowers and USF for your collaborative partnership. We appreciate you all.

I often chuckle watching Chic in his downtown both asleep and in the chair dozing, his subconscious is still active as he engages in the jab, cross, hook and uppercut. We laugh now as I can watch while he is dozing in the chair, although in bed at night I have had a few gentle blows of which I duck for obvious reasons. He obviously is loving this and it is active in his subconscious.

May God richly Bless all working together!
Chic and Christina Cieslik


"I feel like I'm actually doing something to fight PD."

"Rock Steady Boxing is giving me a workout like I could never have imagined. Boxing?! Me?! I never truly appreciated how fit boxers need to be. With the workout we get in this class, I feel like I'm actually doing something to fight PD. And I get to pound at boxing bags, too -- what fun! Punch Parkinson's!!



Amy Slaney


"The workouts were intense but he always showed us modification when needed."

Eric Allen has been such an encouraging and positive coach for our new group of Rock Steady boxers. The workouts were intense but he always showed us modifications when needed. The music was great and Eric changed up the routines and always did things to make us laugh and have fun. He made sure everyone could participate in all of the activities no matter what level we were at. The group has varied ages and some needed to do things seated, but no one felt isolated or singled out. Everyone left feeling accomplished, sweaty, and smiling! Eric is also extremely caring. I have back issues that have prevented me from performing many activities. He took the time after class to show me stretches to try at home and then followed up via emails and phone calls to see how I was feeling. Eric would remind all of us of what we can do and encouraged us to try things, even if we thought it was out of our comfort zone. Rock on!

Connie Colon


"Since he has started this class he has not fallen."

Just a note to let you know how much we have gotten out of Rock Steady Boxing. My husband has had Parkinson's for 14 years and has had numerous therapy classes. This has helped him more than anything. Since he has started this class he has not fallen at all. His balance has improved greatly! The instructor has made the class fun for everyone. He helps those who have a problem and encourages everyone to do their best. We are hoping we can be in the class for a long time. We've had therapy at home and outside the home but this has helped the most.

James and Margret Goss


"After meeting Eric and Sandra you are ready to knock out PD."

I have Parkinson's disease and I would like to take the time to tell you about Rock Steady Boxing. I will be 80 this year and was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Like most people I knew nothing about PD and the treatment of the disease. I was lucky a member of our men's club told me about Rock Steady Boxing which is designed for people with PD, this did not sound right. How can boxing have a workout program for people with people with PD? Well after meeting Eric and Sandra you are ready to knock out PD. They are two super charged people with a can do attitude. They have a way of making you think you are in a one on one workout. When you finish the 90 minute workout you are hot, sweating, and tired. Rock Steady Boxing is not just for the physical part of your body is also for the mind. A can do attitude comes from the fact that you just proved to yourself that you can do. Now after two months of Rock Steady Boxing my mind is better prepared to take PD head on.

Paul Shell


"I can never say how much it has helped him"

Rock Steady Boxing has been the best program for my husband who has Parkinson's. He was diagnosed about 8 years ago and has been struggling with different aspects of it since. His main problem is freezing in place. He uses a walker to stand or walk. He's been in different rehab places and did good. When I heard about Rock Steady Boxing I looked into it and found a group about 15 miles from our home. I can never say how much it has helped him. He can't wait to go to the group every week. I noticed a big difference in him by the end of the second session. He was at home and stood up with the walker in front of him and his chair behind him and he let go of the walker and was punching in the air. He wasn't able to do that for many years. It's the best program for Parkinson's and I highly, very highly, recommend it for anyone. I can't wait to see how he progresses now.

Bill and Dotty Kriney


"This is the only help available to me"

I would like to express my gratitude for the Rock Steady Boxing program and all who make it possible. This is the only help available to me. In a short time and with the help of Eric and Sandra I have noticed immediate physical and mental improvement and look forward to the future.

Robert Wachterman


"You push us like a drill Sargent but not beyond our capacity"

I am from Indianapolis so I was familiar with Rock Steady. We were part of an exercise group on the south side of Indy and Rock Steady would come once or twice a year and give us a demonstration. Rock Steady in Indianapolis is on the far north side, and the more than an hour commute from my home on the south side, made it difficult for me to join.

When I moved to Florida one of the first things I did was look for a Rock Steady or similar group. I was excited when you announced your program. I have found Rock Steady and your leadership to be everything and more than I expected. I find you a caring and encouraging leader. You push us like a drill Sargent but not beyond our capacity. Having different exercises each week make it interesting while still working on balance, flexibility, and strength. The first month I could hardly make it through the class but in the last two classes I have found my stamina improving and I am not totally exhausted. Yesterday I walked two and one-half miles, two months ago I couldn't walk half that distance without resting. Keep up the good work and thank you for your dedication.

Mikel Rawlinson


"I am not alone."

This letter is to tell you how much I appreciate your Rock Steady Boxing Class. It brings me together with other people that have Parkinson's Disease, which lets me know that I am not alone. I also like the fact that you have us do math problems along with the boxing exercises, and I have been learning to box.

The evaluation for the class was better than I received from my Parkinson specialist.

My wife says that when she is not helping me, she and the other helpers feel like they are part of the class just by being there.

Thanks again
R. William Petruschke


"The sense of accomplishment by working through the program activities brought an increase in self-esteem."

I am writing in support of the Rock Steady program in Sun City Center, Florida. The program facilitator is Eric Allen. Eric is well qualified for the position with a background in geriatric exercise, physical therapy, as well as fitness training and the Rock Steady kickboxing program.

In order to help other understand what living with Parkinson's Disease (PD) is like, I will provide a little background on myself:

I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease approximately five years ago. My initial reaction when I began having symptoms was denial. I guess at some level I felt that if I ignored the symptoms they would go away. It made sense, other than the fact that the symptoms did not go away. At that time I was walking at least 6 to 8 miles a day. My right leg would seem to drag along with the more functional left leg. Occasionally, the dragging right leg would catch on an area of uneven pavement and I would nearly fall.

My walking partner finally asked me if I noticed that I was sort of 'dragging' one foot! I then admitted that there was a problem with my gate. When asked what I thought the problem was I blurted out that I likely had Parkinson's Disease. That rather surprised me since I had not admitted the likely diagnosis to myself. Actually, one of my career paths was that of a medical social worker where I became familiar with the long-term degenerative disorder known as Parkinson's disease while working with afflicted clients.

It took me a couple of weeks to actually face this new presumed reality and do something about my medical condition. Timing was everything. It was also a couple of weeks before Christmas and I figured that the diagnosis could wait until after the holidays.

It was on December 28 that I decided to finally face the truth. My wonderfully supportive husband Mark and I went to a walk in care center, since I did not have a primary care physician in Florida The PA there, stated that it could have Parkinson's, but that they could not do the testing required for an actual diagnosis. I remember her telling us to head to Tampa General Hospital since the smaller hospitals in the area may not be able to handle any neurological issues.

We arrived at TGH around noontime and were surrounded by people with flu symptoms. Finally at 2 am my name was called. We were then promptly given a lecture on not using the emergency room for non-emergency situations. We explained that we were new to the area and did not have a primary care physician yet. So I was promptly given an exam and drained of a large quantity of blood. Having found no outward or internal physical problem, they were about to discharge me when my husband convinced them to observe the way I normally walked. I did my usual foot shuffling gate down the hallway, and when I was done the doctor suggested that we try a medication to curb the symptoms. I agreed to this treatment plan and a short time later I was able to walk without too much difficulty. The ER doctor was unwilling to prescribe the medication, but did give me a referral to a local neurologist.

I was able to get an appointment a couple of days later, whereas after a few observational tests to determine my neurological issues, I was given a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. The mediations have enabled me to largely manage my symptoms. Mark and I have done and continue to do a lot of time reading on treatment options as well as symptom management.

I have continued on with my life remaining positive and thoroughly optimistic over the last four years, where I have remained active, (although not as active as my marathon and half marathon training days). I continue my research into Parkinson's Disease treatment where it mentions the importance of staying active. I use my recumbent bike a couple of days a week in addition to walking four to five days a week. I am doing well and many people do not know that I am living with Parkinson's Disease.

I had read about Rock Steady Boxing program and found that the data centered on the benefits of the program for Parkinson's patients. Initial research did not find available programs in the greater Sun City Center area until about a year later when Eric arrived. I was ecstatic about beginning a new challenge in my life.

The first step in the program is an assessment to determine the appropriate level for each individual within the program. I was impressed with the thoroughness of the assessment which lasted almost one hour. Eric displayed a great rapport with participants as well as displaying outstanding communication skills.

Fast forward to my first class; I arrived to a conference (work-out) room at a local independent living center with great expectationsfor my work in the class. My understanding of the goal of Rock Steady Boxing is to encourage and empower people living with PD to fight back. The benefits of the program include empowerment through the encouragement and support of the trainer, Eric to all fellow participants. And participants are encouraged to do things that they ordinarily would not attempt. I noted that participants tried new skill such as walking backwards on a foam beam to improve their balance.

Many of the program activities worked on balance and coordination. The sense of accomplishment by working through the program activities brought an increase in self-esteem. That was quite evident. Participants who came into the room with a lack of facial expression, left the room with a smile on their faces. Which in and of itself is truly a wonderful thing, because the typical Parkinson's patient is devoid of facial expressions

Other activities helped communication skills which is another area participants can increase necessary skills. Participants are encouraged to increase their voice volume so that others can hear and understand them. I personally am in need of this since my voice volume is diminished. Communication is such a basic skill that can isolate a Parkinson's patient. The goal as I understand it in each of the 90 minute sessions, is to be involved multiple activities to improve the Parkinson's patients quality of life.

I consider the program to be an invaluable addition to my fitness and well-being plan. It is hard for me to summarize the impact of the program. But, I have noted an improvement in my communication to others as well as my overall sense of balance. Eric provides great balance between a drill instructor and a caring person, encouraging and supporting his group through all the activities well as my willingness to accept new challenges that may be out of my comfort zone.

Participants are encouraged to bring a "Corner Person" to provide support and assistance to participants. My husband states that "...I get a great deal of satisfaction in watching Maureen achieve her goals and a sense of pride in watching her attack new challenges". I feel that the corner Person also enhances the caregivers understanding of living with Parkinson's Disease.

I am very invested in the Rock Steady Boxing program and thoroughly support the continued funding of the program. The participants pay a nominal fee for monthly classes. My fear is that if funding were not provided to subsidize the program, some participant could not afford the increased fees and would have to leave. If so this would be a terrible blow to the progress that individuals have made. And the possibility that there would no longer be a near-by RSB available for all the surrounding people living with PD.

Sincerely,
Maureen Talon

Audio Interviews

Featured in Healthy Aging - Ep. 5

The following link is a radio interview with the South shore Coalition on Aging



Videos