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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  —  It looks like a typical boxing class.  Participants throw jabs and upper cuts and take their turn on the speed bag.

But this is anything but ordinary.

“Boxing is a big part of the class, but it’s not the only part,” says Rocky Steady instructor Gabe Patten.

This group, in particular, knows what it’s like to fight.  The Rock Steady participants are fighting for their health and independence, and fighting a disease that has no cure.

“I’ve had Parkinson’s for 18 years,” says Ladona Molander. “I was diagnosed at 32.”

Molander decided back then that Parkinson’s Disease would not define her.

“I just live my life the way I did.”

That includes remaining active.  She shows up for Rock Steady Boxing at Title Boxing three times a week.

“We work a lot on balance, rigidity, flexibility, movement, walking, dexterity with your hands, volume for your voice,” says Patten.

Cognitive exercises, like counting by 13, are also thrown into the mix to keep the neurotransmitters firing.  But don’t let that fool you–this isn’t a scaled-down workout.

In addition to working the mind, Patten sets up stations to exercise every part of the body.  The intensity is one of the things Molander likes about the class.

“You won’t believe how hard these guys work,” says Patten.

Many participants say they’ve experienced a dramatic reduction in symptoms since starting the class.  Studies show exercise is key to slow the progression of the disease.

Rock Steady also offers people with Parkinson’s Disease a sort of support group to battle the emotional aspects of the disease.

“They just have a purpose.  They have a reason for being here,” says Patten.  “To fight back the best they can against this disease that won’t quit.”

Rock Steady classes are offered at Title Boxing in West Des Moines Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.