He fights for others.
Physical therapist Brett Miller of Hanson, owner of 110 Fitness — a wellness center in Rockland — has found both his mission and passion lending his voice and including people who sometimes need a helping hand.
A onetime boxer, who still trains fighters, Miller was seeing patients with Parkinson’s disease during his in-home physical therapy visits.
He had something of an epiphany after watching a “60 Minutes” feature by journalist Leslie Stahl, who highlighted the Rock Steady program and its proven changes and improvements for patients. Stahl’s husband Aaron Latham has PD.
In May 2016, Miller became certified in the Rock Steady non-profit program and, as an affiliate, he opened Rock Steady Boxing South Shore in Marshfield that August. Attendance was overwhelming.
“The program went nuts,” he said.
They quickly outgrew the space and opened the Rockland gym. It’s the largest boxing and wellness center in the world for people with Parkinson’s disease, Miller said. He envisions fighting through the future at 110 Fitness and for people living with Parkinson’s disease and other disabilities.
“Creating a giant circle of compassion and not leaving anyone behind,” is how Miller describes it.
Miller feels his personal outlook of loyalty and encompassing others began with his military background — he was a special operations medic in the Army for eight years.
The gym is an all-inclusive center, however of the 105 people who work out nearly all are living with PD. The mission of 110 Fitness is to leave no person behind so that they may reach their full potential physically, mentally, and spiritually by inspiring them to give their 110 percent effort in order to find the greatest balance in their lives.
The physical therapy-based program is a non-contact, intense boxing fitness program designed to improve function, quality of life, strength, flexibility, and balance for people with Parkinson’s disease. Rock Steady boxing is the only medically and clinically proven exercise program to reduce, reverse, and delay the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, according to the 110 Fitness website.
Miller announced the newest program this month at 110 Fitness — boxing in the water. In collaboration with the Gold Fish Swim Center (in the adjacent building) boxing in the water will be a program for all levels of PD.
Boxing H20 is the first of its kind. The center also has popular fitness trend classes such as: drumming circles, meditation, pound, reiki, massage, peddling for PD cycling classes, art workshops, bowling events, free weekly guest speakers, care givers and young onset support groups. To see a full list of classes, times and membership information visit their website 110fitness.org.
Freddy Maitland, 72, (boxing name: Fast Freddy) of Hanson was all smiles as he did core work and visibly perspired during his boxing class last week at 110 Fitness. Diagnosed approximately seven years ago he had depth perception and visual changes around stairs. Wife Kathy Maitland, a nurse for nearly 40 years said her husband made strides in delaying the progression of symptoms but didn’t have the typical signs that neurologists looked for in PD patients.
Fast Freddy has a cornerman who assists him with exercise in his level of boxing.
Corner men are what Miller calls his 40 volunteers who assist with classes. They vary from family members, nurses, to dedicated physical therapy students from local colleges in Boston, remaining with boxers throughout the class for extra assistance.
During class Fred Maitland worked hard as the liveliness in the gym environment triggered a wave of energy. The music was just like any other high paced fitness class with intense movement, rotating boxing bags, colorful gloves and lots of water.
Fred had some setbacks physically in progression of his PD symptoms after a bout of the flu and pneumonia last year. He continues to attend 110 Fitness where he puts on a gait belt for stability and does several exercises sitting down.
He laced up the gloves and punched his way to delay further cognitive decline. Wife Kathy was thrilled at the camaraderie at the gym aside of the physical benefits. He has been attending for two years.
“Fred was sick in the hospital and the friends we have made here had decorated a huge card and everyone signed it,” she added.
Miller’s wellness center is the largest in the world with a boxing program for Parkinson’s patients. He is launching an adaptive boxing program for disabled veterans in October 2018. They will also be working with an adaptive boxing program for youth and young adults a first in the country, he said.
Teaming up with the Friendship Home in Norwell and the State of Massachusetts DDS program the youth boxing will include over a dozen young people living with down syndrome, autism, and physical disabilities, Miller is looking forward to continuously adding to his educational programs and variety of opportunities to embrace all. They also host a women’s empowerment boxing class for those affected by domestic violence after teaming up with DOVE of Quincy and South Shore Women’s Center of Plymouth.
The gym also recently received grants through the National Parkinson Foundation and the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, which Miller has used for program development.
During their second anniversary celebration the 110 Fitness scholarship foundation raised $65,000 to defray membership costs for people who cannot afford to attend the gyms valuable PD programs.
The event drew 400 people with guest speaker American Ninja Warrior Jimmy Choi of Chicago as their keynote speaker. Choi was afflicted by early onset PD and motivates others as he did to manage and rise above his disabilities.
Choi also spent time boxing and visiting the gym during the same weekend.
Miller is proudly involved with the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Davis Phinney Foundation. This month he rode 30 miles on a tandem bike with a friend who has PD raising $10,000 for the Fox Foundation.
About Rock Steady
The foundation of Rock Steady Boxing a non-profit group offers training for qualified individuals. Rock Steady Boxing, the first boxing program of its kind in the country, was founded in 2006 by former Marion County (Indiana) Prosecutor Scott C. Newman, who is living with Parkinson’s.
Newman began intense, one-on-one, boxing training just a few years after he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s at the age of 40. Newman witnessed the dramatic improvement in his physical health, agility and daily functioning through the intense and high energy workouts. Newman’s quality of life improved dramatically in a short time due to his fighting back against Parkinson’s disease.
The Parkinson’s disease foundation estimates there are more than 1 million people in the United States diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and more than 60,000 people are diagnosed each year, according to their website.