Iowa City Boxing Gym designs classes to help people with Parkinson’s disease

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 7:44 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - ICOR Boxing has been on the south side of Iowa City for two decades. It was a natural fit for a new to town Clifton Johnson, a former marine, who took over the gym seven years ago.

“I learned a lot of leadership skills there that I try to bring and incorporate here at ICOR,” Johnson said.

The gym was meant to be a haven for up and coming boxers and it still is, but Johnson knew there was something more he could do.

“Instead of just being a competitive gym just for people who want to fight, I want to ICOR to grow into something that can branch off into multiple different facets from multiple different people,” Johnson explained.

Johnson then discovered a group of people who all collectively share the same battle. Three times a week, both in-person and virtually, Johnson and his partner Emily, coach and train people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

After receiving specialized training with the group Rock Steady, Johnson leads exercises that are designed to help with muscle strength and balance.

“Balance more than anything, it really helps my balance,” said Landis, a participant in the classes.

For the participants, coming to the gym provides a physical workout and a place to socialize.

“It’s just really a warm place to be,” Landis added. “Everyone is real friendly and that makes it worthwhile,”

For Johnson, coaching provides the perfect opportunity to help others as well as a near unlimited source for motivation.

“I’ve watched people who are dealing with something that is extremely difficult that they didn’t ask for and make not only the best of it but make progress,” Johnson said. “I’ve watched people in wheelchairs stand up and throw punches and they’ve never boxed before in their life,”

With plans to expand, ICOR Boxing hopes to help even more people

“If you are a fighter in your heart, and if you feel like you can persevere, you can do it. You can make it through it Our goal is just to help you along the way,”

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