Punching Out Parkinson’s

In Community Interest, Featured Sun City Resident

In 2013, Gloria Landau changed her life. After getting serious about pursuing a healthy lifestyle and quitting smoking, she became a group fitness trainer. Soon, one of her clients approached her about being a trainer for Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) in Palm Desert, which offers safe and fun fitness classes exclusively for those with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the nervous system which can cause deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech, and sensory function. There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but studies have shown that certain types of exercise may be “neuro-protective” and can reverse, reduce, and even delay symptoms. RSB improves the quality of life for people living with this disease, while offering valuable camaraderie for fighters and caregivers alike.

When Gloria was approached about becoming a trainer for RSB, she initially declined. “At the time, I had never even met someone with Parkinson’s Disease,” she says, “I had zero experience, so I didn’t think I was the right fit.” However, she agreed to a 30-day trial to help open RSB’s Palm Desert location, and trained her first classes in January 2016. Those 30 days became a turning point for Gloria. She discovered a true community and a sense of purpose.

“I absolutely fell in love with it. I was seeing healing results. It was magic, and contributing to someone’s wellbeing became my passion.”

However, just when Gloria became RSB certified, it came to a halt when she detected a lump under her upper chest. Tests revealed that Gloria had a Myxoma, a benign heart tumor that required emergency surgery to remove.

It was a shocking experience. While recovering from surgery, Gloria reflected on what was most important to her. She thought of the people she’d helped in her RSB classes, and this motivated her to keep fighting. “I knew I was meant to survive so I could keep helping people with Parkinson’s,” she says, “I couldn’t leave them high and dry.”

By November, Gloria was back in motion and opened up the RSB Desert Cities location. Over the years, she built her program from four fighters to 85 fighters. Her fighters adore her signature excitement and creativity, and Gloria loves working with the community she’s built as Head Coach at RSB Desert Cities.

RSB offers four levels of classes, to suit people with varying levels of Parkinson’s disease impact from minor to severe. Fighters range in age from sixties to early nineties, and focus on overall fitness, strength training, flexibility, reaction time, and balance. Non-contact boxing-inspired classes are RSB’s main offering, as they move the body in all planes of motion, continuously adapting and changing. Gloria supplements these programs with activities like voice activation to work on projecting and breathing techniques, face yoga to exercise muscles and prevent Parkinson’s facial masking, and tracing letters in the air to combat shrinking handwriting.

Gloria managed to keep her classes going virtually, 7 days a week during COVID-19. Rock Steady Boxing – Desert Cities is set to reopen in September of 2021, and Gloria is excited to welcome people back for in-person classes. She’s proud to not only help people reduce their Parkinson’s symptoms, but develop a community of support as well. There’s nothing Gloria likes better than designing fun and creative fitness programs to help people fight Parkinson’s.

“Everyone who’s part of my program feels like family. I see miracles every day!”

No boxing experience is necessary and people of all ages with Parkinson’s disease are welcome at Rock Steady Boxing – Desert Cities! For more information, to view a class, or to book an evaluation, call Gloria Landau at (760) 831-1909 or visit desertcities.rsbaffiliate.com

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