Retiring into the sunset is a dream for many of us. However, for Steve Stryker, his retirement was forced after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 49 years old.

At that time Steve was the chief operating officer for a top credit union in St Louis, enjoying his free time with his grown children and playing basketball most days of the week. Steve’s diagnosis derailed his vision of the future. He wondered, “will l I be able to play with my grandchildren? Or will I be sitting in the corner shaking, not able to talk?” Doubt, despair and depression began to set in.

It wasn’t until Steve moved to Salem, Oregon that he was able to refocus his future with a new wife and find new joys in a new community. He rediscovered the benefits of exercise and the feeling you get after being active and healthy.

That’s when Steve joined Rock Steady Boxing for the first time. The boxing workouts pushed him to exhaustion, which helped eliminate his Parkinson’s symptoms. He would spend and hour and a half boxing, and then another hour doing CrossFit most days of the week. Steve saw immediate results with consistency and high intensity exercises. He felt like his old self.

Steve knows for certain his symptoms diminished with exercise. During Covid, gym closures meant Steve’s activity level dropped tremendously. He remained active by walking, but knew he needed to start his fitness routine again. Thankfully, his CrossFit gym has reopened. He’s finding the motivation to do that while starting to run again.

Regaining endurance and strength has helped Steve regain his confidence. He knows being active in combination with his medications help him manage his symptoms and live a full life. He sees himself being active and healthy for years – at 51 years old he ran a long-distance relay called Hood to Coast. He’s considering a return to public speaking like he did before being diagnosed. And he’s looking forward to throwing his grandkids in the air and getting down on the floor to play with them.

Steve credits exercise with helping him break free of depression and despair by letting go of negative thoughts and finding himself again. Thoughts are more clear for Steve now and he looks forward to tomorrow.