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Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

Rock Steady Boxing – One Walker’s Experience

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Double photo #1 Mike Achin RSB copy

I was excited to hear that Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) will receive the Bonander Award at the Unity Walk this year. Over the last two years, RSB has become a very important part of my life. It has taught me a lot about fighting Parkinson’s disease (pd) and not giving up. The more we learn about pd, the more we learn that staying active through exercise is important. A body in motion stays in motion! There are many ways to stay active such as running, swimming, walking, yoga, etc. Just pick what you like to do and start doing it!

Two years ago at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal, my wife, daughter and I attended a working seminar called Rock Steady Boxing. I immediately fell in love with it. It’s everything I had been searching for. I was so excited about this program! That same year at the Unity Walk, more information was available about RSB. The problem was they were in Indiana and I live in Massachusetts. I was searching for answers and trying to figure out how I could bring RSB to my area. I was getting frustrated but then I heard some good news. There was a boxer in Rhode Island who was going to open up his gym to Rock Steady Boxing. My prayers had been answered!!! Rich Gingras, along with my fellow pd warrior Mike Quaglia, had gone to Indy to get trained and BINGO, RSB had a home in Pawtucket, RI. That’s how I got involved. Now let me explain why I love RSB.

The word “boxing” scares some people off. They think we get in the ring and pound each other. Even though that might be fun it’s not what happens. We do everything else a boxer would do such as, footwork (don’t shuffle!!), stretch those muscles (so we don’t become rigid and hunched forward), and yes, putting on the gloves and hitting the heavy bag, hand pads and our new toy, the dummy. Our classes include people living with pd at every range along the continuum of this disease, from those confined to wheelchairs to those just diagnosed, and everything in between. Men and women, ages 30 to 80, all come to battle pd and take charge of our lives.

Everyone who enters our gym immediately becomes part of our band of brothers and sisters. We laugh, cry, enjoy the good days and help each other through the hard days. We are ONE, fighting back at pd!! When you enter our gym it is time to get to work. Get your hands taped up and start walking or jogging. We need to get our hearts pumping. It is now proven that a strenuous exercise program can slow the progression of pd. I have seen it over and over again at RSB. After we warm up, we do a good 15 to 20 minutes of stretching. This is so important in fighting the stiffness that pd tries to give our body. We learn new ways to stretch. We can do these on our own at home too. Last but not least, get the gloves on!! “It’s just you and me now pd … and I feel good. I am going to knock you silly!!” Every participant in the class works with a partner and we encourage one another to work to the best of our ability. We are all learning to take control of our lives and knock the crap out of pd. It feels good to let loose and pound that bag. You are swinging with your left and right hand, your good side and your bad side. You are stretching to hit the bag. You are using footwork. All things that we pd fighters have trouble with from time to time. Magically, you are swinging, jabbing, punching, and moving those feet – not every time, some days are a struggle. You actually feel good and you forget you have pd!!!! It’s a strenuous workout and if you do it right, you feel great and you’re exhausted.

Mike #4
There is also a bonus I did not expect from RSB. You become close to your fellow boxers; they become like family. We all know how much pd has tried to take away from us. But now we fight back – we sweat, fall, work through the times the meds are not kicking in, laugh, and cry … don’t mess around with my new family!! I love them all. At the end of every class we gather with a chant – one, two, three … FAMILY!! Outside of the gym we do the best we can. This is my life. This is how I take charge. These are my people!! What are you waiting for? Find a RSB near you and change your life forever!!

Note: pd is purposely not capitalized. I refuse to give it any respect.

Mike Achin
Team Member, Team DominACHIN over PD

Rock Steady Boxing is Punching Out Parkinson’s

Monday, February 15th, 2016

RSB Channel 12 video

Research has shown that exercise is beneficial to those living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and we hear regularly from our walkers about the wide range of exercise that they are participating in. One program that is sweeping the country, having grown to 93 affiliate locations in 28 states in the US, is Rock Steady Boxing (RSB).

The RSB organization will receive the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award at this year’s Unity Walk. The RSB – New England affiliate in Pawtucket, Rhode Island will perform a demonstration at the Walk in April and was recently featured on Channel 12 Eyewitness News, the local WCBS and Fox News affiliate in RI. Check out the news feature about RSB in their community, featuring Rich Gingras, the owner of Fight2Fitness and RSB trainer.

We look forward to your joining us at the 72nd Street Bandshell stage in Central Park on April 23rd when we get to observe first hand how these folks are fighting back at PD!

Knock Down Parkinson’s with Rock Steady Boxing Will Be at the 21st Parkinson’s Unity Walk

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Awareness of Rock Steady Boxing’s value and its popularity is growing among the Parkinson’s community. Just around the time that they were featured on NPR, we received a phone call from Marlene Kahan, a long-time walker who asked if we knew about this program. She’s been attending at Gleason’s Gym and was singing its praises. Marlene introduced us to Roberta Marongiu and Alex Montaldo, Co-founders of Rock Steady Boxing NY/LA. Not only did Roberta and Alex agree to share their experience on the PUW blog but they’ve agreed to have members of their group perform two demonstrations on the Bandshell stage on Walk day. Check the Event Timeline for approximate times of their demonstrations and listen to announcements from the Bandshell stage for exact times.

RSB banner
Rock Steady Boxing NY/LA is a bi-coastal non-profit organization devoted to helping people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) re-gain control over their lives. We fight back against PD inside and outside the ring!

Intense exercise and boxing drills not only help improve motor and non-motor functions, but they also contribute decisively to deconstructing the stigma associated with the disease.

Rock Steady Boxing was created in 2006 in Indianapolis, IN. We fell in love with the program and decided to bring it to New York and Los Angeles a year ago, and now we have two wonderful groups, one in Dumbo (NYC) and one in Santa Monica (LA).

Boxing classes are the core of our program, but our goal is to create a much more extensive support system. Most people still don’t know much about PD, so the diagnosis comes even more as a shock for them and their families, making them feel powerless.

We believe that a good fighter is an informed one! That’s why we created a network of Parkinson’s experts, support groups, physical therapists, and neurologists that believe in our program and are always ready to help.

Parkinson’s is a big, scary enemy, but together we can fight back. We want our boxers, and all the people who are battling this disease to know that they are not alone. They’re part of a team, together with their families, friends, doctors, physical therapists, support groups and us. We are their corner-men, always present and ready to help and give them strength, but they are the captain of the team. Their fighting spirit is key to knocking down Parkinson’s day by day, until we manage to knock it out for good!


Alex Montaldo
Co-founder, Rock Steady Boxing Head Coach

Dr. Roberta Marongiu, PhD
Co-founder. Rock Steady Boxing Coach

LSVT BIG – A Personal Experience

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

I recently spoke to Jenny Erasmus, one of our walkers whose mom is living with Parkinson’s disease. She told me that her mom was doing incredibly well after participating in what she thought was a research project about gait and balance. I was intrigued so I called Jenny’s mom, Doreen to find out more about this research. It turns out it wasn’t research at all but LSVT BIG, a program that has proven to be helpful for those living with PD. Doreen learned about LSVT BIG at the Unity Walk, an example of the resources that are available at the Walk.

Read on to learn about Doreen’s experience with LSVT BIG …


Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s there are several changes I have been forced to make in my daily life in order to cope with effects of this disease. The best decision I made was to participate in LSVT BIG, a program developed to specifically address the movement impairments for Parkinson’s patients.

LSVT BIG first caught my attention when I stopped by their booth at the Parkinson’s Unity walk in 2013. I spoke with a representative, gathered up pamphlets, and decided this was something that would be very beneficial to me. Unfortunately, the motivation to commit faded after the walk. Last year my neurologist reminded me of the program and suggested I give it a try. I resorted to my endless list of excuses – it was too far to drive, gas was too expensive, four days a week for six weeks was too much of a commitment, my dog would miss me…

Then one day something made me finally pick up the phone and call the Nayden Rehabilitation Clinic in Storrs, CT where LSVT was offered. I was invited to attend an informational session to learn more about the program and how it works. I attended the session and left knowing this was something I had to pursue. No more lame excuses!

After my first day, I knew the impact this would have on me. One of the best things about this program was working one-on-one with a trained LSVT therapist. I always felt somewhat intimidated and self-conscious joining exercise programs because sometimes I was the only Parkinson’s patient. I had a tendency for moving in the wrong direction and knocking people over. With LSVT, I didn’t have to worry about that. I was able to work with an amazingly wonderful physical therapist, Christina Colon-Somenza, who immediately made me feel comfortable. She motivated me and changed not only the way I move, but also the way I think about PD. The program is so simple – a combination of seven individual exercises and walking – yet it is so effective. The program also focuses on improving daily tasks like taking money out of my wallet and sliding into a booth at a restaurant. I was shown new techniques to accomplish these things much easier.

Ultimately, LSVT changes the way you think about moving. The focus is to take big steps, look up, and stand straight which are things my body no longer does naturally. LSVT showed me there is a way to change this. After four weeks in the program I watched myself walk down a corridor at the clinic. I saw someone in the mirror I hadn’t seen in a very long time. The woman I saw was walking straight and tall. She looked, dare I say, normal.

At my next follow-up appointment with my neurologist after I had completed LSVT, when it came time for her to observe my movement, I told her she better sit down because she won’t believe what she’s about to see. She watched me walk up and down the hall and when I finished she simply said, “Amazing.”

It has been months since I completed this program and I can still hear Christina’s voice in my head every day telling me to take big steps, look up, shoulders back! Instead of becoming frustrated and having to ask for help all the time, I can now accomplish much more by myself. For those of you out there reading this not sure if LSVT could benefit you, I say this: Get off your couch, stop making excuses (gas is cheap these days!), and find a LSVT therapist near you!  You have nothing to lose and oh so much to gain.

Doreen Erasmus
Deen’s Day Trippers

In speaking with Dr. Cynthia Fox, co-founder of LSVT, she provided the following list of questions she suggests you ask when interviewing a clinician for LSVT BIG or LSVT LOUD:

  • How many LSVT LOUD/LSVT BIG clients have you treated?
  • What are your typical outcomes?
  • Do you have a follow-up/maintenance plan for your clients?
  • Is your LSVT LOUD/LSVT BIG Certification current?
  • Do you deliver the gold standard dosage of LSVT LOUD/LSVT BIG?  (4 days a week for 4 weeks, individual 60 minute sessions, with daily homework and carryover assignments)

For more information on LSVT Global, call 1-888-438-5788 or visit their website www.lsvtglobal.com.

Incorporating Parkinson’s Exercise Into Fundraisers

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Exercise is healthy for everyone and research has shown that regular exercise can make a significant difference in improving the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s disease. What’s the best kind of exercise? It’s the exercise you’ll actually do!

A number of our walkers have decided to incorporate exercise into their fundraisers on behalf of the Unity Walk. The range of options are only limited by your interests. Here are just a few examples.

Team Rossi’s Zumbathon

Vanessa MacNeal first participated in the Unity Walk in 2012, shortly after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Encouraged by the support of her friends and family, she wanted to create a fundraiser in the fall to keep the momentum going after April’s Walk. She enjoyed Zumba and thought it might be a good idea for her fundraiser. All she had to do was ask and the response was a resounding “YES” Her friend who is a Zumba instructor agreed to lead the class, her pastor allowed her to use space in her church at no charge, and a friend lent her a professional grade sound equipment.

Vanessa wondered if anyone would come and was overjoyed when friends, family, neighbors, and friends of friends, all started coming through the door. They brought with them their generosity and their willingness to have fun. The music was pumping and people were smiling. Vanessa was proud to see so many people participating. The event was such a success that Team Rossi’s second annual Zumbathon was held the following fall and is now an annual tradition.

Debina’s Dream’s Volley for a Cure


Put together a supportive and caring staff with a bit of a competitive spirit and you’ve got the makings for Debina’s Dream’s Volley for a Cure. When Debbie Flamini, the school secretary announced that she’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was planning to participate in the Unity Walk, the wheels started turning. What started out as a few people suggesting a Volleyball Game Fundraiser between the 5th and 6th grade staff, quickly grew to something much bigger! When word got out, a committee was formed, and the entire staff (over 100 employees) volunteered to donate food, play volleyball and work the event. The event, held in the gym at the Hartford School in Mt. Laurel, NJ for the past three years, has become an annual tradition.

According to Debbie, “Having a fundraiser is so much more than raising money. It’s also more than raising awareness. It is the most powerful way for anyone with Parkinson’s to feel all the love and support that is likely there for you. All you have to do is ask.”

Team Kohan’s Play for Parkinson’s

Jeff and Denise Kohan are an integral part of their community — they still have school age children and spend much of their time taking their kids from one sports activity to the next. It occurred to them that they could create a fundraiser by partnering with the town’s baseball/softball league. With the support of the Hillsdale’s Recreation Director and President of the Baseball and Softball Association, “Play for Parkinson’s” was created! It included a 3-inning single elimination tournament for younger children and a homerun derby for the older ones. There were sponsor donations, event t-shirts, decorations on the field and lots of food followed by an event at the town swim club. Over 250 children participated!

The Kohans met so many people from their town and heard many stories of those who have been or are affected by Parkinson’s disease. Everyone was so supportive and Team Kohan’s event went a long way to raising awareness as well as raising funds for Parkinson’s research. Denise states that “Hillsdale, NJ is a small town with a big heart.” That may be the case but their level of support is a reflection of their strong connection to the Kohan family.