Colorado Springs gym helping people fight back against Parkinson's disease

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- People are stepping into the boxing ring for a fighting chance against Parkinson's disease.

More than 1 million people are living with Parkinson's. In Colorado, roughly 17,000 people have been diagnosed.

Parkinson's is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that causes tremors and difficulty with walking and movement. Old School Boxing is helping people fight back.

On Tuesday evening, the gym was full of people all fighting against the same undefeated opponent.

"My right arm is a little bit more lethargic than my left because it's hit my right side," said Mary Roney, who was diagnosed nine months ago.

"My sense of balance is not very good," said Jerry Knoll, who was diagnosed five years ago. "My muscle coordination is pretty poor."

But these fighters are stepping into an unlikely place for a fighting chance.

"People are saying they haven't had this much fun in years," said Emily Moncheski, a physical therapist.  "Their confidence is improving, there's camaraderie between them and I think just stepping into the ring gives them this sense of I'm accomplishing something."

Improved balance and hand-eye coordination are just a few of the physical benefits, but for others, it's overall morale.

"Exercising with other people who have the same ailments is helpful and shows me that if I keep doing this I can stave off the progression of the disease," said Roney.

"I've taken ownership of the disease," said Knoll. "Before I thought the disease owned me. I feel today that I own this disease."

At 74 years old, boxing is something that Knoll never imagined he would be doing.

"There's something about when you put on the gloves and you step into the ring with someone, it's really hard to explain but it's a great feeling," said Knoll.

Old School Boxing is the only gym in southern Colorado offering this type of class. It is open to all ages and is free for the first six months.

The class is held every Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and all hand wraps and gloves are provided.

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