By Matthew Dunn
Region – A thumping cadence slowly develops as members of the DopaFit™ boxing class in West Boylston land punches against the boxing bags stationed throughout the room. Participants of this class are not training to learn self-defense, or for the sole purpose of a cardiovascular work-out. Rather, they are already engaged in a fight against Parkinson’s disease, and hope to delay or reduce the impacts of the disease with each deliberate punch of the bag.
Chad Moir, the founder of DopaFit, knows first-hand the impacts Parkinson’s disease can have not only on those who suffer from it, but on their family and loved ones as well.
“My mother, Cindy, is the inspiration behind DopaFit. She passed away from
complications due to her Parkinson’s disease at the young age of 55,” he said.
During that difficult time, Moir used exercise to help him cope with the loss of his mother. Eventually, he decided he would take revenge on Parkinson’s disease, turning his frustration and anger into a viable Parkinson’s disease movement program to help manage and ease the symptoms of those affected.
“After doing extensive research I realized that exercise is the only proven way to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease,” Moir said, adding that “For most people living with Parkinson’s disease medication is necessary to stay mobile and to be able to continue leading an active life.
“I used my knowledge as an exercise specialist to create Dopafit, a Parkinson’s disease movement program. Our program has helped many people with PD start lessen the amount of medication they take and are doing things they have not been able to do it years.”
Moir’s West Boylston DopaFit class has helped local participant Tim MacMillan manage his Parkinson’s symptoms on a daily basis.
MacMillan is a two-year veteran of the class and is also a strong advocate of its effectiveness.
“I got started in DopaFit Boxing back in May of 2017 as coach Chad Moir came to one of my APDA (American Parkinson Disease Association) monthly support groups”, MacMillan said when describing how he got his start in the DopaFit boxing program.
“He [Chad] needed a volunteer from the audience to get up and box with him. When I got up to box he actually told me that I was spot-on and wanted me as his first client when he opened up his studio in West Boylston. I have been going to all his classes faithfully which I find greatly beneficial,” MacMillan added.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease that impacts thousands of lives daily, slowly robbing those affected of their motor function, balance, and reflexes– but members of the DopaFit class have found a way to fight back.
According to MacMillan, “[The] biggest impact on me fighting Parkinson ’s disease is definitely DopaFit boxing, which I find helps out tremendously as I may go a couple to a few days with little [few] tremors.”
DopaFit is a boxing class based on the previously established Rock Steady Boxing method, an exercise regimen specifically designed help reduce, delay, or mitigate some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Focusing on exercises utilizing motor skills, strength, and balance, DopaFit aims to strengthen and preserve many of the same attributes Parkinson’s tries to steal.
According to Moir, “A phase II clinical trial, called the Study in Parkinson Disease of Exercise (SPARX), was recently conducted by researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, and the University of Colorado in Denver. Their findings suggest that high-intensity physical exercise is beneficial for people with early stage Parkinson’s disease, as it may delay the progression of symptoms related to motor abilities.”
MacMillian can see these benefits in his daily life. With no shortage of enthusiasm, he describes a moment in time where his hard work and commitment at DopaFit was apparent to his wife as well.
“One time when my wife and I were holding hands she said, ‘Hold my hand again, I want to see something’. I held her hand again and she said, “Oh my God I don’t really feel any tremors, and you really don’t seem to be shaking as much’. I had been to DopaFit boxing that morning,” he recalled.
Not only does DopaFit Boxing give each participant the power to fight back against their disease, but it also serves as a support group, and encourages each individual to continue their fight alongside one another.
As Moir points out, “If you have Parkinson’s disease and you want to delay the progression of your symptoms, you should exercise two-three times a week with your heart rate between 80 to 85 percent maximum. It is that simple.”
Tim MacMillan, and many others, slide their hands inside boxing gloves and continue to try to knock-out a disease that has taken so much from so many. With new advances in therapy and programs like DopaFit Boxing, it is clear the fight is nowhere near over.
For more information on the DopaFit program visit dopafit.com.