Frankie La Sasso is a firm believer that boxing is for everyone.
His boxing gym Box 2 Fit, which recently moved to a new Cloverdale location, offers lessons for boxers of all ages and abilities.
La Sasso’s gym is perhaps best known for its classes created for those with Parkinson’s disease — Punch Out Parkinson’s and YOPD Punchout.
Boxing focuses on agility, hand-eye co-ordination, footwork and endurance — all skills that helps someone with Parkinson’s fight back against the degeneration of motor skills, balance and speech.
When La Sasso learned more about the connection between the two, he knew running a boxing program for those with Parkinson’s would be a perfect fit for him. After all, he is a physiotherapist who has been boxing since he was six years old.
La Sasso completed the Rock Steady Program in Indianapolis, a course that certifies people to teach boxing to those with Parkinson’s, and began teaching Punch Out Parkinson’s classes in March 2017.
The program has since become immensely popular at Box 2 Fit, and the gym now offers YOPD Punchout classes for those with young-onset Parkinson’s disease as well.
“It’s just a real blessing to be able to do my passion and have a job that I actually really, really love to do,” said La Sasso.
Punch Out Parkinson’s also has a strong social component — when the Cloverdale Reporter visited Box 2 Fit, the camaraderie was immediately apparent when La Sasso’s students began to enter the gym.
One student was barely through the door when he asked La Sasso, who was nursing a cold, if he’d be able to keep up during class. Another boxer, Brien Smith, put on his gloves and immediately challenged the Reporter to a sparring match. La Sasso stepped in and offered to demonstrate a few combinations with Smith’s help instead.
“The greatest thing that I see is friendships being made, and really just seeing smiles on people’s faces when they come in the door,” said La Sasso. “It’s a sense of family. It’s more than just a bunch of people boxing.”
The boxers and their families also meet every month for a social, going out to dinner at a local restaurant. “It’s just a way we can get to hang out and do a little more than boxing,” said La Sasso.
The sense of community also extends to the family members that come out to support the boxers.
Kim Burns, who runs a support group for people with Parkinson’s disease in Langley, knows that first-hand.
La Sasso’s commitment to those with Parkinson’s is “overwhelming and sincere,” she said.
“There are many people with [Parkinson’s disease] living in isolation and stressed out caregivers that need a place to call home sometimes,” she said.
According to Burns, Box 2 Fit provides “that link of community that we do not otherwise have. [Parkinson’s disease] is a very solitary disease and is not just a movement disorder but a neurological issue that affects speech, thought and [contributes to] isolation.”
At the end of the day, La Sasso said the program is about giving “everybody an hour to really look forward to during the day,” he said. “They can come get an awesome workout, come hang with their friends and just enjoy themselves.”
La Sasso currently runs his original Punch Out Parkinson’s sessions during the afternoons, Monday through Friday, and offers sessions for those with young-onset Parkinson’s disease in the evenings.
The Box 2 Fit gym also provides lessons in cardio and technical boxing, classes for women, classes for youth, and has open gym hours for those who just want to hit the bags.
To learn more about the Punch Out Parkinson’s program, visit box2fit.com or drop by the gym, located at 17750 65A Avenue in Cloverdale.