Rock Steady Boxing expands its reach in fighting Parkinson’s
With Rock Steady Boxing in Encinitas, coach Ingrid Johnson is helping people fight Parkinson’s disease and live happier and healthy lives.
“I love it,” said Johnson, who has been running the non-contact fitness-style boxing program in North County since 2016. She has recently expanded into Solana Beach and is gearing up for a new spinning program in Encinitas to combat Parkinson’s.
Rock Steady Boxing is offered three times a week at the newly remodeled Encinitas Boxing Club and a lower intensity class is offered three times a week at Studio Cybrid, a cycling and boxing gym in Encinitas. The program has also recently expanded into the GOLO Boxing gym in Solana Beach, offering two classes a week.
“Studies show that the bilateral movement of boxing uses both sides of the brain which helps improve brain function, balance and coordination,” Johnson said.
In class, boxers are led through a variety of exercises such as punching, working with speed bags, jumping rope and doing footwork drills. She sees improvements in flexibility, strength, power, gait, balance and reductions of Parkinson’s symptoms like stiffness, soreness and tremors. Johnson even trains the voice—as Parkinson’s can affect the vocal cords, she leads exercises to work the muscle of the vocal cord to help keep voices from getting softer.
“There are a lot of benefits from this workout,” said Johnson. “Everyone says they notice immediately a change in mood.”
Starting in May, Johnson will also launch new Pedaling for Parkinson’s classes at Studio Cybrid, a unique spinning and cycling program designed to provide cardiovascular fitness and stimulus for the brain in order to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s.
The energetic Johnson is a native of Sweden who has a masters in exercise science and has worked as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor for over 20 years. Johnson said she has been blessed to have an equally energetic new partner in coaching with Lenzi Marshall, a boxing instructor and personal trainer who is a former Marine.
“She’s just got high energy, she’s upbeat and keeps people moving,” Johnson said. “It’s wonderful.”
The coaches offer motivation and the classes provide a sense of community and camaraderie for those fighters who are experiencing similar physical challenges and emotional difficulties.
Rock Steady did not have to stop helping people during the pandemic as they are considered an essential service. Classes were able to move indoors after holding sessions outside although Johnson actually enjoyed teaching in the fresh air: “I’d be outside all the time if I could!”
When the Encinitas Boxing Gym was under construction early last year and they couldn’t be in the studio, Johnson led her fighters on outside walks and workouts in the nearby park as well as in sessions on Zoom.
“Those that have stayed have improved immensely,” Johnson said. “Everybody stayed healthy, everybody stayed well.”
Johnson has also started the nonprofit Punching for Life to further help improve the health and lives of people affected by Parkinson’s disease. After teaching for several years she saw there was a need for additional help that couldn’t be covered in a class. The nonprofit can receive charitable donations to provide specialized needs, caregivers, nutritional help, even transportation to and from class.
Due to the pandemic Rock Steady programs in Sorrento Valley and Carlsbad have shuttered and as the only offering in North County San Diego, Johnson is happy that people have begun to find her again.
Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinsons is offered Monday Wednesday and Friday from 1:30 -2:45 p.m. at Encinitas Boxing Club, 613 Westlake Rd. in Encinitas. Studio Cybrid classes are held Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3-4 p.m. at 1465 Encinitas Blvd. Suite C. Rock Steady in Solana Beach is offered on Tuesday and Thursday at 11:30 to 12:4 at GOLO Boxing, 742 Genevive Street.
All classes are $20 each and all new students a required to take an assessment before starting classes. The evaluation is an hour and is $40. To learn more, visit encinitas.rsbaffiliate.com. To learn more or donate to Punching for Life, visit punchingforlife.org.
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