Aquatics, Faces of the J

Staying Rock Steady

“COME ON, REALLY GO FOR IT!” coach Susie Rosenstein encourages 71-year-old Ed Spring. Ed grins and leans into the punches, side-stepping in a circle following Susie’s lead. Right, left, right, left. His gloved fists meet the catch mitts Susie wears for sparring practice, as other Rock Steady Boxing attendees trickle in.

But this isn’t your average boxing class: it’s designed for people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to combat their symptoms.

Parkinson’s is a progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system that affects motor skills. It can’t be cured, but research shows that certain types of exercise can reduce or delay symptoms. Basically, “you can’t stop it, but you can hopefully make the changes less dramatic,” Ed says.

His neurologist recommended he try dancing (“I have two left feet, so that was out”) or tandem biking (“not too practical”), neither of which felt right. So he was intrigued when he heard about the J’s new boxing class.

Ed took to the class quickly, and has been attending for the past year. The J’s program is one of over 700 nationwide Rock Steady Boxing affiliates featuring a curriculum that combines stretching, interval training, core work, and non-contact boxing drills.

Since all the participants share a diagnosis, “it’s part fitness class, part support group,” Ed says.

And while there are other gyms where he could get a similar workout, coming to the J felt natural, because his family has been part of the community for more than 40 years. He served on the board decades ago (as treasurer, he once delivered his treasury report in rhyme, just to liven things up), his wife, Fran, worked in the Early Childhood School (ECS) for 20 years, and both their sons attended ECS. These days, Ed continues to provide legal counsel to the J (which he’s done for more than 30 years) and he and Fran support ECS through foundational grants for teacher training.

SJCC programs like Rock Steady Boxing make a difference in people’s lives every day, and Ed is grateful the J offers a program to help him stay “rock steady.” Between the classes and the community, he always feels like he’s on solid ground at the J.

Programs like Rocky Steady Boxing are free to the public due to private community support and a generous grant from King County Parks. Please consider supporting this and other programs like it.