'It's like you don't have Parkinson's': Boxing gym helps people living with disorder
A gym tucked away in a New Westminster strip mall serves as more than just a place to work out -- it's a place where people with the debilitating disease can be themselves.
The Parkinson Wellness Centre offers Rock Steady Boxing, a non-contact boxing class that has been adapted for people with Parkinson's disease. The program is focused on helping them maintain balance, strength mobility and activities of daily living.
Bruce Mills, 72, has been battling Parkinson's for the last eight years.
"I want to keep going as long as I can keep going," he said. "I am fortunate that I have slow-moving Parkinson's. I am working as hard as I can to keep myself mobile, keep my mind active, keep myself socially active, so I can enjoy life as long as I can enjoy life."
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement.
Symptoms, such as tremors and limb stiffness, generally develop slowly over the years and the progression of symptoms is different from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease, according to the Parkinson's Foundation.
The cause remains unknown and there is no cure.
Audrey Cerny joined the program last year. She said she is determined to keep working out and continuing to live a healthy lifestyle.
"I'm battling it head on I'm not going to let it get me -- that's what I keep telling myself -- I'm not letting this disease get me, I'm going to get it," she said.
The disease is treated through medication and surgery. Some believe keeping active can slow the symptoms of the debilitating disease.
"We are kind of like the first line of defence. We need to keep them going until that cure happens," said fitness trainer Robyn Murrell, who runs the program.
Murrell is involved with IMPACT Parkinson's Society, a group which was created to help improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson's and their loved ones by offering various programs to work on the mind, body and soul.
Three years ago, she dedicated the gym to help people living with Parkinson's.
The class has a variety of different levels based on each person's fitness ability and caters to their unique symptoms.
She wanted to establish a comfortable environment where everyone is welcome, but don't let that fool you, she runs an intense program full of various activities to give everyone a complete workout.
"Everyone feels like family; they feel comfortable together. You come in here and it's like you don't have Parkinson's because everyone is in the same boat," she said.