Macon Magazine

February/March 2020

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PATRICK ANDERSON "I have a way of making them comfortable and making things fun, but also getting them to work," he said. "I'm at an in-between age, so I can help everyone communicate. I'm like the peanut butter and jelly between the bread." One of those younger kids is Dean Gerwig-Moore, 15, who has been training at the gym for a year now. "I love the community here. It's a really good place to spend your time. Coach Pat takes the time to work with everyone individually, and so does Coach Butts. It feels like everyone is included," he said. "I've been into boxing since I was 8. My dad used to be a boxer, and my brother and I would play-fight and stuff. I like the competition. Boxing's the only sport where it's really all on you individually – there's nothing your teammates can do to change the outcome." "As a parent, I have to admit I was a little concerned about Dean boxing," said Dean's mother, Mercer University professor Sarah Gerwig-Moore. "He's a really bright kid, and I've done an awful lot to protect his brain." After spending time with the coaches at the gym, Gerwig-Moore knew that safety was a priority and Dean was in good hands. "I can't say enough about the gym – the coaches, the kids who Dean works out and spars with," she said. "It's an amazing community with intentional work, not just in exercise but in growing as a person, honing skills and character. at place is really special to us." Boxing isn't only helpful and therapeutic for young people. Last year, Navicent Health teamed up with the Macon-Bibb United Boxing Club to host Rock Steady Boxing, a nonprofit organization offering a non-contact boxing curriculum to Parkinson's disease patients. Parkinson's disease, a degenerative movement disorder that can cause deterioration of motor skills, speech and balance, affects more than 1 million people in the United States. More and more studies show that some Parkinson's symptoms can be slowed or alleviated by certain types of rigorous, specific, muscle- stimulating exercise. "Boxers condition for optimal agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork and overall strength to defend against and overcome opponents," said the Rock Steady website. "At RSB, Parkinson's disease is the opponent." Coach Anderson flew to Indianapolis to train to be a Rock Steady-certified coach, an experience he named as one of the best of his life. "Hearing everyone's stories of depression, loss of strength, mobility issues and how boxing helped them rebuild their confidence so much that some of those same people work as instructors now – that's just amazing. ey took one of the biggest negatives you can imagine and they flipped it," he said. Boxing is catharsis. Boxing requires its participants to actively embrace experiences most of us would prefer to run from: pain, fear, vulnerability, humiliation. ere's freedom in facing those challenges and continuing to keep going, even if you're knocked down again and again. ere's a metaphor in there about life, resilience and our capability as humans to triumph over adversity. Macon-Bibb United Boxing Club celebrates this sport with the respect it deserves and makes it accessible to those who need it most. A quote on the gym's wall serves as a good reminder that, in the words of pro boxer Jack Dempsey, "A champion is someone who gets up when he can't." F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 0 2 0 | M ACO N M AG A Z I N E.CO M 4 9

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