413 Fitness of Wells Branch, Texas, is reinventing senior fitness for a specialized audience — those in the surrounding area who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

When the gym was founded in 2015, it became the first central-Texas-based gym to employ non-contact boxing for clients with movement disorders, using battle ropes and strength and impact training to build muscle and improve motor control. 413 Fitness has now expanded into additional locations in south Austin and Georgetown. 

John Ramseier, the owner of another Georgetown-based martial arts studio and boxing gym, has been working with 413 Fitness to offer expanded classes, according to 413 Fitness founder and owner Kristi Richards. 

Ramseier told The Austin Chronicle, “This concept of boxing for Parkinson's is something that hits close to home. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's at around 50 years old. He passed away this last year from Parkinson's, so being able to have a facility that can give back to people that are dealing with the same ailments as my father is something that words can't describe.”

413 Fitness targets the specific needs of its clients — dubbed “fighters” — by focusing on the fundamentals of mobility, balance and posture under the careful supervision of its coaches. Coaches engage social, emotional and mental aptitudes such as camaraderie, functionality, cognition and more. “Many of our fighters say the camaraderie is their favorite part of our program,” Richards said.

413 Fitness hosts monthly social events and support groups for the fighters’ families, and allows each of the fighters to have a “cornerman” to come along on their fitness journey. 

According to Richards, research shows that “forced intense exercise” can actually slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. “We have seen fighters come in wheelchairs and after a few short weeks, [they are] walking into classes unassisted,” she said. “Our clients are sleeping better, having diminished tremors, better mood, less rigidity and overall improved quality of life.”

413 Fitness is planning an expansion into the Cedar Park area this September.

Courtney Cameron is Editorial Assistant of Athletic Business.