Parkinson's program teaches seniors to box
Published Thursday, May 24, 2012 10:16AM EDT
MONTREAL - Many boxers develop Parkinson's disease as a result of numerous blows to the head, but a senior's centre in Montreal has turned that around.
The Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors is taking people with Parkinson's and teaching them to box.
It's part of a wellness program developed by Maria Fragapane who is pushing people to strap on the gloves and seize the day instead of lying of bed.
"You've got to remind them that they can't give up," said Fragapane.
She designed the program as a way to help people faced with a disease that has crippled even The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.
Her goal is twofold: encourage people to exercise, and improve their morale.
"Sitting at home is not going to help, it is just going to give the disease more speed," said Fragapane.
Carl Rivest, Gwen Spurll and Ruth Karp are all benefiting from the program.
"Balance. Coordination. Cardio. Posture. Speed. Stamina. Overall an excellent workout," said Rivest.
But it's not enough to shadow box at the Centre in Cote des Neiges.
The real challenge takes place in a ring, and former Canadian Heavyweight champion Sly Louis is leading the group at the Underdog Gym.
"It's awesome, they work so hard. I push them as hard as I can to be perfectly frank. They never complain, so for me as a competitor it is fuel," said Louis.
Meanwhile the boxers find that taking life's lumps is a little easier when able to dish them out as well.
"We're all trying to encourage each other to get on with it and to keep going," said Karp.