Boxing Program Helps Those With Parkinson’s Stay Strong, Special Holiday Desserts, Gov. Walker Signs Lame-Duck Bills That Curb Evers’ Power, Touts $28 Million Kimberly Clark Deal

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Kristin Wall (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A unique nationwide program finds that the training program of a boxer has a lot to offer someone dealing with Parkinson’s disease. And in fact, it has the potential to reverse and delay symptoms. We find out more about how these boxing classes are changing lives. We also learn how to make some tasty holiday desserts to wow friends and family, and we take a look at the laws Governor Walker signed today in Green Bay.

Featured in this Show

  • Parkinson's Disease Symptoms Targeted, Slowed With Boxing Exercise Program

    Patti Batt knows people who walk into her training classes at the Hybrid Athletic Club in Fitchburg are in a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

    So, when they stand in front of focus mitts, heavy bags or speed bags, Batt tells them to envision they’re hitting the disease often marked by tremors and imbalance.

    “There’s a lot of emotion going on with these people,” said Batt, a certified instructor and personal trainer. Batt leads the Madison chapter of Rock Steady Boxing, the first of its kind in the state that follows a nationwide model of exercise targeting areas affected most by Parkinson’s disease.

    Fitchburg is one of 14 Rock Steady Boxing affiliates in Wisconsin that have sprung up since 2016, when Batt started the first program.

    “Each and every one of those people who come in are really warriors,” she said, pointing out that boxing can be a physical release of tension and anxiety, and in this case is done with others who are experiencing the same struggles.

    Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease caused by the death or damage of cells in the brain or spinal cord, which over time can result in limited mobility, and changes in speech and writing.

    People with the disease might have tremors and balance problems, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. About 1 million Americans are affected by the disease, the foundation reports, and it’s the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s.

    Participants of Rock Steady Boxing at Hybrid Athletic Club in Fitchburg box with heavy bags. Photo courtesy of Patti Batt

    The classes in Fitchburg, which draw participants mostly from within a 40-mile radius of Madison, begin with physical warmups and social connections with others in the program.

    About 45 minutes are spent on non-contact, high-intensity boxing, which addresses problem areas particularly affected by Parkinson’s disease, for example balance, hand-eye coordination, agility, speed of movement and rhythm.

    No cure has been found for Parkinson’s but Batt said high-intensity exercises have been shown to slow the progression of the disease’s symptoms. Coaches often encourage participants to exercise at those levels, but monitor their activity to ensure they’re staying safe.

    “We also make it fun,” she said. “So, while they’re working high and intense, we’re doing fun things so it doesn’t seem so much like work,” she said.

    The bonds formed between members are especially uplifting, Batt said, noting that the program’s 42 members share information about medications or coping mechanisms. The participants are “tight” she said, and are quick to befriend new members.

    Boxers in this program range in age from 46 to 87 years old, Batt said. Most who join continue to stay in the program, unless a serious medical issue precludes their participation.

    “When you have that common place where you go, where people get it — they understand what you’re going through — that is such a comfort to people,” she said.

    Batt said she first learned about the program during a segment that aired on CBS in 2015. The same day she saw the segment, she signed up for training in Indianapolis, which began three months later.

    “I knew it was something special and there’s just something about it that drew me to it,” she said.

  • Gov. Walker Signs Lame-Duck Bills That Curb Evers' Power, Touts $28 Million Kimberly Clark Deal

    Governor Scott Walker signed a series of bills today in Green Bay that would limit the powers of incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Though the move was widely condemned by Democrats and other organizations, Walker and fellow Republicans have argued that Evers’ executive powers would be effectively the same. Walker also took time to tout a $28 million deal that would keep paper product manufacturer Kimberly-Clark in Wisconsin. We talk to WPR Capitol Bureau Chief Shawn Johnson about the news.

  • Boxing Program Offering Exercise, Community For Those With Parkinson's

    The nationwide Rock Steady boxing program gives people with Parkinson’s disease a chance to hit the bag and work out the muscles and nerves affected by the condition. We talk with the trainer at Wisconsin’s one Rock Steady chapter about the benefits she sees for her athletes.

  • Try Your Hand At Some 'Fancy' Desserts This Holiday

    You don’t have to be a pastry chef with nearly twenty years of experience to make some tasty chocolate truffles, but learning the in’s and out’s from an experienced pastry chef can’t hurt. We hear from a Wisconsin baking master about a few of her favorite holiday treats and we hope to hear from you.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Derrell Connor Host
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • Patti Batt Guest
  • Shawn Johnson Guest
  • Susan Feest Guest