Punch Fitness Photos by Loren Winkler, LCW Productions
Imagine waking up an extra two hours early just to stretch your legs to start your day. Or remembering to take 12 different medications daily to help fight inflammation, severe pain and swelling in all your joints. Now imagine you are 12 years old with the above issues combined with extreme fatigue, weight gain and low self-esteem.
1 in every 1,000 children experience the above symptoms associated with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). JRA is an autoimmune disease that develops when something goes awry in the body’s natural immune system. Instead of protecting the body against things like flu viruses, the immune system attacks its own cells by mistake. In JRA, this can result in painful inflammation, fever and other symptoms.
The most common signs and symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are:
Pain. While your child might not complain of joint pain, you may notice that he or she limps — especially first thing in the morning or after a nap.
Swelling. Joint swelling is common but is often first noticed in larger joints like the knee.
Stiffness. You might notice that your child appears clumsier than usual, particularly in the morning or after naps.
Matty Morris has been living with JRA for five years. She was diagnosed at age 12 years when she had fallen to the floor in severe pain and couldn’t walk. Every day Matty’s struggle gets a little easier, but it is still a struggle most other teens do not or will never experience. Today at age 17, Matty gives herself two injections a week of Enbrel and Methotrexate, which is a form of chemo, and continues to take some medications. Most importantly, through trial and error and a can-do attitude, Matty has learned over time how to deal with the pains and flare ups that come with the disease and not let the disease prevent her from participating in life.
Insert Punch Fitness. Matty and her mom met Grover Wiley, owner of Punch Fitness, a little over a year a ago because Matty’s little sister Maci. Maci was being bullied at school and Mary wanted to help Maci become stronger and more confident to help stop the bullying. As luck would have it, Mary’s family lives right up the street from Grover’s boxing gym so Mary thought, “What the heck, let’s give boxing a shot.”
Maci began training training with Grover in 2015 and learned basic boxing moves at the beginning along with proper nutrition. Over the course of a few months, Maci became more confident, which resulted in a happier version of herself. She loved coming to the gym and Grover immediately saw a change in her attitude and self-esteem. As Maci started to change her attitude, the bullying stopped at school. Mary now wanted to see how Grover could help Matty become stronger and more independent – she did not want JRA to stop Matty from being physically active.
Matty started training with Grover last year as well and has already lost over 40 pounds and no longer needs to arise 2 hours early each morning to stretch her legs. However, Matty chooses to still get up early, hitting the gym at 5am! Grover has had to modify some of the workouts for Matty because of her knees and joints, but tells CTM she never complains and never tells him she can’t do a workout – she at least tries. Matty truly believes anyone can do anything they set their mind to. She works hard five days a week at the gym and Grover tells CTM, “She was a die-hard from the get-go and never gives up.”
“There are so many benefits of a boxing fitness class,” Grover Wiley tells CTM. Grover explains, “Boxing engages all muscle groups for a total workout. You use multiple muscle groups in one exercise which generates greater energy consumption, meaning more calories are being burnt! Boxing for fitness is popular because it provides the best workout and challenges you both mentally and physically. Boxing not only helps to strengthen and tone your muscles, but it’s also a great stress release.” On the average, most women can burn between 500- 650 calories in just one class!
Mary was very impressed with the training that both Maci and Matty were receiving from Grover but had never thought about joining in. Grover had told CTM that Mary sat and watched both daughters for months before joining. Eventually Mary decided she no longer wanted to sit on the sidelines, she too wanted to feel strong, confident and healthy like her daughters. Grover explained that the beginning was tough, he told CTM that Mary had a bad attitude and repeatedly told him, ‘I can’t’ to everything he asked her to try. At one point Grover was so frustrated with Mary’s attitude, he told Mary to go home. Six months later, Mary loves working out and never, ever says ‘I can’t.’ Mary started with Grover at 202 pounds and now with continued dedication and consistency, weighs in at healthy 158 pounds.
Matty sums up this chapter of her teen life beautifully with an exert from a story she wrote for a school assignment. “I have tried not to let it (JRA) get in the way, but personally, it has limited a lot of things in my life. For example, I had to give up dance after ten years. However, with all that being said, I still view this disease as more of a blessing than a curse. Even though it has ruined many things for me, it has done some good. It has helped me to be enlightened by some of the things people go through. Not only that, but it has also helped me to become the woman I am today, and find my passion in life. I want/plan to become an anesthesiologist to help people who have to face hardships like I did. I don’t where my life will take me, but I can only hope and try for the best.”
For more information about Punch Fitness, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groverwileypunchfitness/.