The revolutionary StairMaster BoxMaster has become globally popular for its fixed, numbered focus mitts which allow users to throw down infinite combinations of punches on a stationary, adjustable tower. BoxMaster’s durability has been put to the test by hard hitters like Hugh JackmanChris Eubank Jr., and boxing trainer Michael Delguyd, but now a new group is squaring up against one of the toughest machines in the industry: Patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by the deterioration of brain cells producing dopamine. Many with Parkinson’s suffer from symptoms like tremors, limb rigidity, and gait problems, which can eventually lead to the loss of motor function as dopamine controls movement and coordination in addition to its well-known role as an emotional regulator. Parkinson’s is a disease without a cure, and because it affects over 10 million people worldwide[1], additional focus has been placed on researching the illness in the hopes of better understanding its progression.

That’s where BoxMaster comes in. Despite its reputation as being a key piece for powerful punchers seeking a grueling workout, BoxMaster is also making waves in the Parkinson’s community for its function in non-contact boxing classes designed to develop footwork, improve coordination, and strengthen the vocal muscles by yelling out combinations.

Boxing appears to be neuro-protective, slowing the disease’s progression and allowing for a better quality of life for those participating. BoxMaster is key in facilitating this treatment, as the numbers on the pads allow users to create any combination of punches they desire, with specific pad placement designed for different types of punches (jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts).

Why a BoxMaster over a standard heavy bag? BoxMaster’s durable numbered pads force the user to think about where their fist will connect next, ideal for those trying to improve coordination and balance, whereas a heavy bag offers no specific contact target and can swing wildly when hit, becoming a hazard to those suffering from motor symptoms who cannot quickly move aside. Boxmaster is stationary and adjustable, allowing the user to raise or lower its frame to the proper height for punching, and providing stability for patients who are less comfortable with a moving target.

In a recent study from Lisbon, Portugal which utilized BoxMaster to determine applicability of boxing in treating Parkinson’s patients, participants stated that “using the BoxMaster made learning the boxing sequences easier because of the numbers placed on the boxing pads”[2]. After using the equipment for three months, once per week, the study concluded that it was acceptable to use BoxMaster in Parkinson’s treatments, and that its use facilitated patients’ learning capacities without any adverse effect.

As important as treating the motor symptoms of PD are treating the emotional and mental symptoms that often develop with the decline of a person’s independence. In a May 2018 article by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, BoxMaster was featured as part of the “Rock Steady” boxing program at Oxford Athletic Club. ACE trainer Maria Berexa, who runs the program, states “We all take our health for granted. When you lose it, you become withdrawn and depressed…This gets them out of the house and moving. They form a bond with each other. Some were terrified at first and didn’t want to come and now they love it.”[3] Critical in chronic illness and disease is the ability of the patient to see themselves as more than just a body with a disease – as someone who is strong, capable, and making the most of life despite managing their illness.

Although PD and its symptoms are complex, it is encouraging to see that boxing has proven effective in its treatment. Fitness can change the body and mind and offer a glimmer of hope to those who see results from their training sessions after months or years of degeneration, and StairMaster is proud to offer a product that facilitates meaningful change and progress. After all, isn’t that what fitness is all about?

To find out how the StairMaster BoxMaster can make a difference in your facility, click the link below.

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[1] https://parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Causes-and-Statistics/Statistics

[2] https://comum.rcaap.pt/bitstream/10400.26/16948/1/Poster_09_CGodinho_2016.pdf

[3] https://triblive.com/local/northhills/13568422-74/oxford-athletic-club-program-designed-to-knock-out-parkinsons