Boardman woman fighting Parkinson’s brings new training program to local gym

Local News

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects body movement. More than 10 million people live with it every day but a gym in Boardman is helping patients fight back.

VSN Performance and Fitness Center is an affiliate facility for a global boxing program called Rock Steady Boxing. The program is designed to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and help patients live their best lives.

Doug Stein, the president of VSN, said he loves being able to help these people fight their disease.

“Allows you to command mentally and have the neurons, and dopamine and everything in your body say, ‘I’m in control of this,'” he said. “You take control physically and mentally, rebuilding the confidence, taking your life back.”

Stein helped bring the program to life at VSN in early March but Paula Caldwell was the inspiration and drive behind it all.

“It’ll attack anybody. It doesn’t discriminate and it is relentless. It won’t stop,” Caldwell said.

The Boardman woman in her early 70s has been living with the disease for 14 years. Now she wants to “punch out Parkinson’s.”

“It continues and it continues, so we have to fight it,” she said.

Caldwell has made it her mission to do just that — fight back.

“If we don’t, it’s going to take over and I’m not going to let it.”

And she hasn’t. In 2017, Caldwell got certified with Rock Steady Boxing but there wasn’t anywhere close offering classes.

She went to VSN Fitness Center with the idea to bring it to Boardman.

“It means that there’s help. You don’t have to fight it on your own,” Caldwell said.

VSN started Rock Steady Boxing on March 4. Caldwell said it’s made her more mobile and has given her better balance.

More than that, it’s given her hope.

“I feel uplifted, I feel supported, I feel people care.”

She said as much as the disease is devastating, it’s not the end.

“Don’t let it take over.”

She said people with Parkinson’s want to live.

“Live to its fullest. There’s too much to enjoy.”

Rock Steady Boxing classes are offered during the week at VSN Fitness in Boardman. You can find more information on the gym’s website.

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