The story so far … Dad’s birthday boxing class.
This week we celebrated Dad’s 86th birthday. The last year has been OK, with minor, but noticeable advancement of his Parkinson’s. After recording an upcoming Season 2 Old Nerd Podcast episode at “Drake’s Downton Gym” in Dayton, Ohio, I learned of a class they do specifically for older people, primarily suffering from Parkinson’s disease or similar debilitating conditions. It is always a struggle to find activities for him that he will both actually do and not thoroughly hate.
Admittedly, the boxing was a gamble, but what’d I have to lose? I planned to take the class with him so, at the very least, I’d learn a little something. So, on his birthday we made our way to the old Greyhound bus depot in downtown Dayton, where Drake’s now calls home.
A rough and rugged place, reminiscent of the old 80s gyms where you might have seen Rocky working out. It’s not pretty, but it’s complete. A full boxing ring with lighting and every piece of needed workout equipment ranging from a simple rack of weights to spinning cycles. If I lived closer, this would be my kind of place.
Our instructor was Shannan Hamm, who you’ll learn more about in our second episode of the podcast in Season 2. She met us at the door and made dad feel at home. Within a few minutes we
were learning basic exercises, designed I assume to keep you limbered up and loose for your boxing workout. Then she wrapped our hands and got us outfitted with gloves. It was a challenge to get dad’s thumb to move independently enough to slide into the glove, but he managed and we were all set.
At the same time, other students were coming in, older people, some with noticeable symptoms similar to dad’s, and others who exhibited nothing at all. But everyone was into it – they were regulars, so they knew the ropes (no pun intended).
The class proceeded with intervals of moving exercises like half-jumping jacks – you do them on one side only, and leg kicks, which dad was already good at since we do them in his weekly workout. We were each assigned a bag and took our positions in front of them. I used the one right next to his so I could help him, he had to stand a while and that was the hardest part. I made sure to put a gate belt on him and kept his walker there and a stool for when he needed to sit.
Take a tour of Drake’s Downtown Gym with Old Nerd …
Still, he jumped right in and did his best to follow along. His range of motion is very limited in his shoulders and elbows, so it was tough to get his “jab” to go very far. But he gave it a good effort and did all of the exercises except for the walking laps. He could have done them with the walker and some help but it would have exhausted him unnecessarily. You have to pick your battles – What can he do that’s more beneficial with the least exertion?
All in all, the whole thing lasted about an hour and he seemed to enjoy it. They even got me into the business too and I would like to try the standard class sometime.
The moral of our story, sometimes, to motivate your charge to get up and get out there, you have to think outside of the box – and inside the boxing ring! Thanks again to all the folks at Drake’s Boxing Gym – You can find them on Facebook.
Here are some photos from the day. Thanks to Old Nerd Media Director, Julie Barth!