A program that offers a non-contact version of boxing to people living with Parkinson's disease is coming to Cape Breton.

Rock Steady Boxing was founded in 2006 in Indianapolis by Scott C. Newman, who suffers from Parkinson's.

The program combines boxing moves with stretches and simple exercises using beach balls and parachutes to help people improve speed, strength, balance and flexibility. 

Currently there is no such program offered in the Maritimes.

Personal reasons

Glace Bay resident Kyle Cameron recently travelled to Indianapolis to get his certification as a Rock Steady Boxing instructor.

Cameron has been boxing for 25 years.

A few years ago, he was faced with a personal reason for exploring this kind of boxing.

Kyle Cameron rock steady boxing instructor

Kyle Cameron is looking for a space to host the Rock Steady Boxing program in Cape Breton. (Kyle Cameron)

"My father-in-law was diagnosed in 2014 or '15. He went downhill fairly quick. I wish now that I had this course and had known more about it," Cameron said.

Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement, with symptoms getting worse over time.

Cameron feels his father-in-law might still be around today if he had been able to take this kind of program.

"He is my reason for getting into this. He was like a father to me," he said.

Range of benefits

Rock Steady Boxing may work to delay the progression of the symptoms, Cameron said.

"It's not just boxing. It's all these other games that help them gain the skill set to move forward without suffering too much," he said.

indianapolis rock steady boxing participants

Participants gather at a Rock Steady Boxing facility in Indianapolis. (Kyle Cameron)

While in Indianapolis receiving his certification, Cameron met people from age 30 to 90 taking part in the exercise program.

"All of these people have all seen some sort of benefit from it. There's also the social benefit — they get to be around people who are going through the same thing they are," he said.

Cameron said he's spoken to a number of people interested in the program, including members of the Cape Breton Chapter of the Parkinson's Maritimes group.

He said he is in the process of looking for a space to host the program.