FOREST HILL, Md. (WJZ) — Boxers know the dangers of fighting inside the ring- too many hits to the head could cause Parkinson’s, but at gyms across the country, boxing is not the enemy.

At Forest Hill Boxing, a non-contact boxing program to support those with Parkinson’s disease has started.

Debbie Umbarger started the program after being asked about boxing therapy by a friend fighting Parkinson’s.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I had a boxing certification, group fitness certification and personal training certification,” Umbarger said. “But I didn’t know anything about Parkinson’s.”

Umbarger learned about the disease and her sessions filled up. She got a national certification as a Rock Steady Program.

They’ve found that the movement and coordination needed to box, combined with stretching, is helping Parkinson’s patients.

Marty Green is living with Parkinson’s.

“[The program] definitely makes you feel better,” Green said. “I don’t know if that’s the camaraderie or the exercise, but it definitely makes you feel better.”

These classes are held four times a week and every exercise is being done for a reason.

“They work on things that Parkinson’s takes away from you, and by strengthening those, you fight back against the disease,” Steven Sapperstein, who is living with Parkinson’s, said.

These simple movements are making lives better.

“When I see them here they’re happy to be here and it warms my heart,” Umbarger said. “It really is the best part of my week for me.”

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