VSN Athletic Performance Center in Boardman has been offering Rock Steady Boxing classes for about four years.

Rock Steady Boxing helps those with Parkinson's experience less muscle stiffness and pain, and improves balance and motion.

The Parkinson's Foundation estimates nearly one-million people in the U-S are living with the disease and physical exercise is one of the best ways to treat this progressive disorder.

Paula Caldwell, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease about 19 years ago, brought the idea to VSN after working tirelessly to find a local gym willing to add the program.

"She came in and she was exhausted," said Doug Stein, owner at VSN Athletic Performance Center. "I got a computer and we took a look at it. She explained it and I felt like it was a calling and I went home and told my wife 'you're gonna think I'm crazy but I think we need to do this.'

Jeff Henry has been attending the class for three years and has seen tremendous improvement. He gives all credit to the program.

"I was stumbling around really bad. They would tell me 20 times a week that I was dragging my feet," said Henry. "I knew I was going bad and they worked on me very hard, kept me moving and eventually the foot dragging stopped and my balance got better."

Though many think of the physical symptoms of Parkinson's, some people experience non-motor symptoms such as apathy, anxiety and depression.

"I do struggle with some anxiety and depression aspects with the disease," said Bill Mentzer, who's been coming to the class for the several years.

"Coming here is not something that I have to think about. It's just something that I do you know. It's not like I need to get up and go to Rock Steady and have to drag myself there. I look forward to this part of my life."

Paula Caldwell says that she stopped working so she's able to workout full-time because of how much it helps slow the progression of Parkinson's Disease.

"All of our fellow boxers, I don't call us patients. I don't call us victims. I call us boxers," said Caldwell. "We're fighting. We all have different symptoms but we know what it's like and so we have become a family unit of our own."

VSN Athletic Performance Center offers Rock Steady Boxing classes Monday and Thursday at 1:30 and 6:00 pm. It's also offered on Saturdays at 9 am. For those looking for more information on the classes, the phone number is (330) 774-3181.

Stein says, it's remarkable to see how much the class has helped improve symptoms for those who attend.

"Their chins are up, they're fit, they're strong and their mental capacity is better than what it was when they first walked in," said Stein.

The gym is always looking for additional punching bags to be donated for the increasing class sizes.