PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some people in the Portland area are fighting Parkinson’s disease — literally.
Kimberly Berg’s Rebel Fit Club boxing boot camp class helps people battling Parkinson’s slow the progression of the disease.
Parkinson’s Disease affects the nervous system — causing tremors, stiffness or slow movement.
“I always say it’s the best thing I do about my Parkinson’s to come here. Better than the medicine and everything else,” said Peter Broffman, who has been taking the class for years.
Kim Cornilles, who also battles Parkinson’s, takes the class four days a week.
“I don’t stutter as much anymore,” she said. “It’s helped a lot with my balance. Just empowered me to feel better about myself, too.”
Instructor Kimberly Berg first got involved with Parkinson’s patients 12 years ago as part of research involving boxing. She started the boot camp and saw big results by altering a few moves.
“We modify it for Parkinson’s. Like if you think about boxers being down in this position, we’re up. Because Parkinson’s does this, so we want to be up, and engaged and rotating,” Berg said. “We work multi-directional, stepping back, stepping forward, we work fast, slow, so it’s great for Parkinson’s.”
Berg said while she’s renting out a space at several facilities in the Tigard area, they’re busting at the seams. It’s so popular because it’s working to slow the progression of this sometimes fatal disease.
“It works cognitively, so they have to keep their eyes focused and really thinking about what they’re doing while things around them are going on,” Berg said.
Her students say it’s not just the physical skills, it’s also about the friendships they form in the class.
“It acts as a support group,” Jeff Monroy said. “We’re all in the same boat. We share information about doctors and medications and what we’re going through, and we have a ready made group of people who understand.”
The group is constantly upping their game to fight this disease that has no cure — but by doing this, they can knock out some of their symptoms.
Berg currently has 220 students and is looking to secure a much larger space. She set up a GoFundMe to help with that and to set up scholarships for some of the fighters.