Taking precautions for COVID-19, man diagnosed with Parkinson's continues boxing training

Nari Ishii does Rock Steady boxing from home
Posted at 3:09 PM, Jan 24, 2022

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't stopped Nari Ishii's fight against Parkinson's disease. The determined spirit of Rock Steady Boxing has allowed Ishii and dozens of others to continue their battles online.

Ishii and his wife, Eko, have been together about 40 years. They say building a great life takes work, persistence, focus, no matter what happens.

Four years ago, Nari Ishii got a challenging diagnosis — Parkinson's.

"It's a shock," Nari Ishii said. "At the beginning, I thought I was unlucky cause I have to have this disease."

Losing his strength, he no longer wanted to even go on walks in his neighborhood.

"There should be some way to slow down the progression," Eko Ishii remembers thinking.

She was right, but she didn't expect to find that where she did — at Rock Steady Boxing Music City.

"We use elements of boxing to fight back against Parkinson's," said Colleen Bridges, who runs the gym.

Rock Steady helps those diagnosed with Parkinson's slow the progression of the disease through boxing workouts.

"It's because everything a professional boxer trains for is the same thing someone living with Parkinson's is struggling with every day," Bridges said. "They're struggling with power, strength, agility. The more diligent they are in fighting Parkinson's every day, the slower the progression will ultimately be."

Nari Ishii has come a long way since he started working with Bridges. But with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and now the surging numbers due to the omicron variant, he doesn't feel he can go to a gym to continue the training he needs. Still, it was no time to give up.

"COVID definitely threw a few punches, but I'd say my fighters threw a lot more punches back at it and even harder," Bridges said.

Nari Ishii's one of the Rock Steady boxers doing their training from home — and he's kept busy.

"Nari did over 450 hours of classes in 2021 alone," Bidges said.

Ishii didn't even know how many hours he had spent training online.

"I'm quite surprised," he said.

"He works out every day over internet," Eko Ishii said. "It makes a big difference over two years."

Like building a great life, it's work, persistence, and focus no matter what happens.

"You can be very successful no matter what comes your way," Eko Ishii said.

For more on Rock Steady Boxing, click here.

This story was originally published by Forrest Sanders on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville, Tennessee.