A BOXING club has become an unexpected hub of hope for people battling Parkinson’s disease.

Holmes Chapel Boxing Club launched a new group a year ago called The Fightback Club.

Boxing coach James Rice started the sessions after extensive research showed that no contact boxing can help combat the symptoms of this neurodegenerative disease.

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Men and women in his class say the weekly workouts make them ‘feel better physically and mentally’ and are ‘great fun’.

Knutsford Guardian: Volunteer boxing coaches help people to improve agility, co-ordination and balanceVolunteer boxing coaches help people to improve agility, co-ordination and balance (Image: Holmes Chapel Boxing Club)

At present, there is no cure for this disease which affects the nervous system, but scientists have found that structured exercise in a gym improves brain-body co-ordination.

James said:”It’s a challenging disease but not all doom and gloom.

“This is nothing at all to do with boxing and hitting people but everything to do with boxing coaching.”

Following structured drills and exercises can improve agility, co-ordination and balance.

Knutsford Guardian: People with Parkinson's say the workouts have helped improve their mental and physical healthPeople with Parkinson's say the workouts have helped improve their mental and physical health (Image: Holmes Chapel Boxing Club)

James said: “Parkinson’s sufferers have a deficiency of a dopamine, a chemical that drives motivation and movement.

“We can make better use of the dopamine sufferers have as well as increasing endorphins and serotonin.

“When I ask people in the class to throw a left hook and a back hand, they have to concentrate on the routine.”

The youngest member of the group is 36 and the oldest 80.

Coming together has boosted their confidence.

James said: “Their positivity and resilience is amazing to watch and they are an inspiration to us coaches.”

“You can fight back like it says on the T-shirts.”

One woman, aged 62, said: “I can honestly say it’s one of the best hours of my week.

“I feel so much better after going regularly for six months, both physically and mentally.

“It’s great to meet others in my situation.

“They are an inspiration to me and we have a bit of fun whilst doing exercises to improve our health prospects.”

Another woman, aged 43, said: “After our sessions I’m energised and feel like I can tackle anything.

“Meeting people going through the same processes as myself has been invaluable.

“I’ve met new friends that have inspired me to tackle this war head on by focusing on each daily battle at a time.”

A man, aged 60, added: “I was encouraged by my doctor to try out the Fightback Club.

“It was heartening to see a group of friendly positive people living their lives to the full despite their challenges.

“It reassured me that things are manageable for a long time as Parkinson’s progresses very slowly.”

Another man, aged 61, said: “The sessions have contributed significantly to me being able to maintain and improve my overall fitness, strength and balance.

“These sessions are a highlight of my week.”

Stephanie Harris, a social prescribing link worker at Holmes Chapel Medical Centre, said: “These sessions are adapted to each person’s individual needs.

“The team provide the time and support attendees need to build confidence, strength and engage with others in a similar position to their own.”

Coaches work as volunteers and the sessions are free.

James said: “As a charity, we are keen to engage with other community spirited companies and organisations who may wish to support our efforts.”

Anyone wishing to help can call James on 07920 274696.