History of Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady Boxing, an Indiana-based gym founded to provide an effective form of physical exercise to people living with Parkinson’s Disease, has come to Southern California!

The History of Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady Boxing, the first and only boxing program of its kind in the country, was founded in 2006 by former Marion County Prosecutor, Scott C. Newman who is living with Parkinson’s.

The seed for what would eventually become Rock Steady Boxing Foundation was planted when Newman began intense, one-on-one, boxing training just a few years after he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s at the ago of 40. Newman witnessed the dramatic improvement in his physical health, agility and daily functioning through the intense and high energy workouts. Newman’s quality of life improved dramatically in a short time due to his fighting back against Parkinson’s disease. Private donations and a personal passion to help others living with Parkinson’s allowed Newman to open a small gym and boxing ring in a donated corner of a corporate employee gym as Rock Steady’s first home.

Kristy Rose Follmar, a former world champion professional boxer, was hired (and remains today) as the head trainer. Kristy made invaluable contributions to build the Rock Steady program during its infancy. Her professional experience as a boxer and fitness trainer, along with her infectious enthusiasm for helping those with Parkinson’s, continues to help the program steadily grow.
Christine Timberlake joined Rock Steady as a certified trainer in 2008. Her roll as a carepartner for over 11 years to her husband (Tom), exceptional athletic ability and outstanding leadership skills added tremendous value to the Rock Steady team. Her ability to relate to and nurture the carepartners of Rock Steady Boxers and fundraising capabilities are vital components to the overall mission.

As word of this unique program spread and the demand for the classes increased, Rock Steady created training programs to meet the fitness levels at all stages of Parkinson’s – from the newly diagnosed to those who had been living with it for decades plus. Not only did boxing training offer an appropriately challenging workout, it was also fun! Rock Steady Boxers found a place where inside and outside the ring they could form friendships with others who truly understood what it was like to live with Parkinson’s disease. Male or female, young or old, they spoke the same language and shared the same daily challenges.

In early 2010 Rock Steady recognized that it needed a larger facility and a permanent home for the program. Working with Amy DiStaulo, an Indianapolis nonprofit and business development consultant, they earnestly worked to build a dynamic and diverse board of directors and seek grant funding to build a dedicated facility for Rock Steady Boxing.

The generous support of Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis through a highly competitive $100,000 “Impact Grant” and a partnership with Peak Performance Fitness Center allowed Rock Steady to build their own boxing gym that was officially dedicated on February 19, 2011. The Impact 100 grant allowed Rock Steady to increase the number of classes it offered and increase outreach to those with Parkinson’s and doctors who could make referrals early in a patient’s diagnosis to stave off progression.

Joyce Johnson joined Rock Steady as Executive Director in Spring 2011. Johnson is the former ED for Starfish Initiative, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that mentors teenagers from low-income families and provides college access support programs to encourage and prepare students for continuing their education beyond high school.

Rock Steady Boxing’s mission and message are simple: If you are living with Parkinson’s, you are not alone. Our boxers may not win titles or trophies, but they are all champions in the Rock Steady Boxing ring.

Rock Steady has developed “Rock Steady Training Camp” – a three day training seminar that teaches other trainers how to use the Rock Steady method. Through this method, we have been able to start our very own Rock Steady Boxing – Southern California.

Please call Anne Adams at (949) 370-0607 for more information on our Southern California program.

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