YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

‘This is medicine for me’: A Utah man is battling Parkinson’s with boxing

Jun 20, 2024, 5:47 PM | Updated: 5:57 pm

OGDEN — Tom Nehring loves putting on his boxing gloves.

“This is medicine for me,” he said while warming up.

A few years ago, the 65-year-old was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“It started out with a tremor that got worse, a poor sense of smell,” Nehring said. “Another thing I’ve got is called REM sleep behavior disorder.”

His physician suggested he try out the Rock Steady Boxing class to help with his symptoms.

“I was one of the first people who joined the class,” Nehring said.

Ever since, he hasn’t stopped boxing.

“A lot of people look at me and say, ‘You don’t have Parkinson’s. You’re not the typical Parkinson’s patient.’ And the reason is, because in this class, we move,” Nehring said.

Tom Nehring practicing his punches against a punching bag with another boxer.

Tom Nehring practicing his punches against a punching bag with another boxer. (KSL TV)

It’s movement and exercise that certified Rock Steady Boxing coach Camille Koga says play a big role in slowing the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease where the brain doesn’t produce dopamine like it should, which causes both motor and non-motor symptoms,” Koga said. “Slowness of movement, smallness of movement. With boxing, you have to open up; you have to be big and move and be quick.”

Rock Steady Boxing coach Camille Koga showing the boxers more exercises to practice.

Rock Steady Boxing coach Camille Koga showing the boxers more exercises to practice. (KSL TV)

Koga said that boxing is a high-intensity sport that gets you moving and can also help improve your balance and coordination. In her class, she reassesses on participants every six months and most are improving.

“This is showing the results that we want. It’s slowing Parkinson’s disease,” Koga said.

And while it is an uphill battle for the nearly a million people in the U.S. living with Parkinson’s disease, for Nehring, he isn’t fighting it alone.

“We’ve become a social club. If you build a good support group, it won’t be as hard as if you’re trying to do it by yourself,” he said.

If you feel like these classes could help you or someone else battling with Parkinson’s, the Rock Steady Boxing classes are held twice per week at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.

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‘This is medicine for me’: A Utah man is battling Parkinson’s with boxing