Many organizations say they support various groups or those with diseases, but the Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) facilities throughout the Houston area and around Texas truly give meaning behind the word “support.” Battenberg’s Boxing Academy is one of those facilities, putting into action its support for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“Rock Steady Boxing-Houston was the first affiliated Rock Steady gym in Texas dedicated to the fight against Parkinson’s and plays an important role in fighting back against this disease. Other organizations focus on finding a cure for Parkinson’s. However, Rock Steady Boxing focuses on bettering the quality of life for the boxer through forced intense exercise. Anyone with Parkinson’s can attend this program!” said facility owner Renee Battenberg. She and husband Jeff have been the owners of Battenberg’s Martial Arts and Fitness in Kingwood since 1987.
Renee’s mother, Nancy Biddle, 77, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago. The diagnosis inspired the Battenbergs to speak with their pastor, George Foreman, regarding how to best deal with this news. Foreman suggested that they look into this program as he had heard positive results from a friend in Minneapolis who attended RSB classes. He helped them start the first Rock Steady Boxing Affiliate program in both Kingwood and Texas four years ago.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative movement disorder which can cause deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates that there are more than one million people in the United States diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and more than 60,000 people are diagnosed each year.
Renee explained signs of the disease: “Tremors, changing in handwriting, rigid limbs, loss of smell, changes in voice, masking (game face), sleep disorders, shuffling gait and short steps.”
Classes are held at 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at Battenberg’s Martial Arts and Fitness at 2510 Mills Branch Drive, inside The Zone. The first class, from 9:15-10:15, is called PD 3/4 and is a low- to moderate-intensity-paced class. This option is for participants who need assistance putting on gloves, getting water, standing/walking or who might have balance or postural difficulties. It is also for those who can still walk independently, but to a limited extent.
The second class, from 10:45 a.m.-noon, is called PD 1/2. Participants usually already have experience in some form of athletics and are physically able to handle a much more intense workout. This class is fast-paced with a higher intensity and rapid transitions between exercises, and for those not requiring assistance. The facility also has an Open Rock Steady class on Saturdays from 10-11 a.m. for all levels.
RSB classes at Battenberg’s Academy are known throughout Houston not only the professional instruction, but also for caring and making everyone feel like family. The instructors lock arms with their boxers from all over the Houston area as they share a common goal: to enable boxers to fight this opponent (Parkinson’s) and start to feel and function better.
The staff is dedicated to helping people with all levels of Parkinson’s who have been recently diagnosed or who have had Parkinson’s for years. These innovative, non-contact boxing and fitness-inspired classes are getting amazing results, even slowing down the disease.
Said Renee, “Our boxers may not win titles or trophies, but they are all champions in the Rock Steady Boxing Ring!”
For more details about this program or to learn about additional locations, visit rocksteadyboxing.org.
Sometimes those who are newly diagnosed tend to feel all alone. Therefore, local support groups such as the Kingwood branch of the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society (hapsonline.org) meets weekly. The Michael J. Fox Foundation (michaeljfox.org) also has events throughout the year in Kingwood and the Houston area.