EDGEWATER — Richard Younker, a 76-year-old man diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, forcefully thrust his legs up into the air one at a time as he marched across the floor of the Edgewater Fitness Center.
His trainer, Eric Johnson of the Rock Steady Boxing program, walked alongside him, counting off the steps in a bellowing, though encouraging, voice.
One! Two! Come on, Richard, you got this!”
As Younker made his way across the sun-lit room, he watched his reflection in the wall of mirrors opposite him. As he made it closer to the mirrors, he took a slight pause to look himself in the eyes, then turned around, says “One! Two!” — and then headed back on his way to his starting point.
Twice a week, Johnson and 12-15 other Parkinson’s patients meet to literally battle their diagnosis by slipping on boxing gloves and doing exercises like hitting a bag or practicing footwork boxers use.