AIMS Fitness celebrates Rock Steady Boxing’s fifth anniversary

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WEST BEND — April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and in West Bend one community member, AIMS Fitness owner Jen Lenzendorf, is doing her part to both raise awareness, and to help those with Parkinson’s disease through Rock Steady Boxing for five years as of this May.

Rock Steady Boxing is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is a nonprofit organization that offers non-contact boxing classes to people with Parkinson’s disease to improve their quality of life. Founded in 2006 by former Indiana Prosecutor Scott C. Newman after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 40, there are now over 800 locations worldwide.

At AIMS Fitness in West Bend, Lenzendorf has grown from one Rock Steady Boxing class to several each week over the past five years, and helps people with Parkinson’s disease fight their degenerative movement disorder through movement.

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“We mimic what a boxer would do in training. We work on balance, we work on fine motor, we work on strength,” said Lenzendorf. “… We also work on big movements, because people with Parkinson’s tend to get smaller movements. And, over here with fine motor we work on that, because as we age, as well as for people with Parkinson’s, it gets more difficult.”

Lenzendorf started teaching Rock Steady Boxing classes at AIMS Fitness, 3130 Newark Drive in West Bend, five years ago. She offers multiple classes each week to 22 “fighters” who go through circuit-style workouts to simulate those of a boxer.

“I don’t have patients, I am not a doctor and I don’t pretend to be. So, they’re fighters, that is what they go by, but they don’t hit one another.”

Because the attendees are fighters, they all get fighter names, ranging from One-Punch to Trouble.

During class the fighters start out with a getting-to-know-you question before going over the workout stations for the class and then warming up.

Once they are warmed up, they split into groups and rotate through exercises at each station, which can sometimes lead to organized “chaos.”

“It looks like it’s chaos, but they need to sometimes figure it out on their own, as well, because real-life is,” said Lenzendorf. “A lot of people are sometimes in the store or out on the sidewalk, or something like that, so how do you move your body through space safely and navigate life well.”

The fighters then put the gloves on and go through another round of circuit exercises using punching bags to do boxing workouts.

“These guys are the most inspiring people I know. They have a movement disorder and show up to an exercise class religiously,” said Lenzendorf. “They’re just like you and I, they just sometimes take a little longer to move a certain way.”

Lenzendorf doesn’t do it alone, as she has several dedicated volunteers who help run the class, one of which is her mother Kris Turner, who the fighters affectionately refer to as Mayor Kris or Mom.

“It fills my heart,” said Turner. “It’s unbelievable, their determination. You feel bad not coming if you have to take a day off, for whatever reason, you feel bad and you miss them.”

According to Lenzendorf, they are looking for more volunteers as the Rock Steady Boxing classes continue to attract individuals.

According to the fighters, that doesn’t come as a surprise, because not only is the class helping them physically, but it is a positive environment for them.

“Everybody in here mentors us, not only that but we help each other out,” said one fighter. “We all help each other out.”

“We encourage each other,” agreed a second fighter.

“It’s just like home, it feels like home,” said another fighter.

In addition to serving people with Parkinson’s disease, AIMS Fitness also offers exercise classes for seniors. For more information about AIMS Fitness, to sign up for a class or to volunteer to help teach a class, visit aimsfitnessllc.com.

“It serves my purpose, it is definitely my purpose,” said Lenzendorf. “I didn’t know that, but working with older adults and people with Parkinson’s is my niche. It fills my heart.”

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