Club case study: Newquay Boxing Academy’s Parky Blinders makes the news

October 7, 2022 | by Matt Halfpenny


Eight months ago, Newquay Boxing Academy become an England Boxing Inclusive Hub and decided to focus their programme on people living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

It is suggested that exercise can slow down its progression by stimulating neurological changes in the brain.

Boxing, in particular, has received a lot of attention for this,  with Parkinson’s UK saying that different boxing exercises help to address Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremor, balance, posture and strength, as well as increasing fitness levels.

The sessions – that are affectionately known as Parky Blinders – have attracted BBC coverage because of the significant impact they have made.

Richard Powers who runs Newquay Boxing Academy said: “With the support from Parkinson’s UK and Cornwall Parkinson’s we have participants who travel across Cornwall to attend our sessions.

“It is great and the participants love it… we must be doing something right as they come back week after week.

“As well as boxing we also have the added element of socialising after the session with a tea / coffee at the club, whic has brought the group together.

“The session adds another string to our bow as a club as we are offering something different to support our community. The sessions also help our coaches with CPD and improving their coaching skills.”

Jim who coaches the Parkinson’s group added: “The social aspect is just as important not only for the group supporting each other, but for us coaches too.

“I have found out so much more about this disease and how it effects individuals differently, and the meds as well, all by having lunch and a good chat. I have found this has helped me change an exercise slightly for individual needs.

“Memory challenges have always gone down well, in the ring with the colored lights, saying a corner colour and number of punches for that colour etc. These sorts of exercises have always come across as fun and challenging, plus it can be tailored to individual capabilities.”

Pad work as well as building up combinations, making them more complex, challenges everyone whilst allowing individuals to punch out frustration with power”.

Here’s what some of the participants have to say about the sessions:

SA said: “The Parkinson’s boxing classes have improved my balance, overall fitness, motivation, confidence, physical reaction time as well as the feeling of belonging to a community. The sessions have had a positive impact on my symptoms and my overall wellbeing”

TS said: “First has to be the coaches with their non-judgmental approach and continual positive regard that allows each and every one of us to feel comfortable enough to be there. No matter how good or bad our Parkinson’s is that day. The coaches accommodate our different needs, strengths and weakness by specific exercises tailored to our needs. The club has created a peer supportive community where we feel confident enough to be ourselves which in turn helps our mental health and wellbeing. We are a diverse group, I also like how we have integrated with the young people educating the community.”

PH said: “The group has bonded so well together; we have become more than just a number of random individuals that meet to take part in a sport. We are a mutually inclusive and very supportive group. The coaching team is very well balanced in their respective skillsets and expertise and have also been on a learning journey themselves, working out safe yet challenging routines which a group of exercise driven, competitive and focused people who just happen to have a diagnosis of a degenerative brain condition in common. Personally, I enjoy the pad work as it takes me out of my comfort zone and challenges me to engage in a skill which I never thought I’d get the chance to again. The highlight of the week is when the flying saucers come out and we have to defend and duck and dive our way out of trouble – I usually find I managed to dodge more that Richard can throw!”

JW said: “I wholeheartedly second all that’s been said above. The variety of tasks and games ensures that the sessions remain both challenging and fun.  The enthusiasm of coaches and fellow boxers is infectious and leaves me feeling more confident and positive every week.  I particularly enjoy the pad work and competitive games and am always left feeling physically and mentally better when I’ve been pushed further than I thought myself capable of.  I’m looking forward to trying the Velcro tags sometime.”

JOW said: “These classes have made us fitter, more flexible and sturdier fighters in the Parkinson’s resistance movement. Our goals, experiences, knowledge and empathy are being fused together into a common bond of friendship.  All while having fun.”

To find out more about the Parky Blinders follow them on social media:

If you have Parkinson Disease and would like to join a club or are a club who would like to deliver Parkinson’s sessions email