Photo courtesy of Husson University

BANGOR – For the fifth consecutive year, Husson University’s Fighting Eagles Boxing Club is offering boxing-centered wellness classes. These classes give people with Parkinson’s disease the opportunity to engage in non-contact boxing. In non-contact boxing, participants punch free standing heavy bags and mitts held by coaches and student volunteers, instead of punching each other.

The boxing-centered wellness class offered by the club includes aspects of boxing along with exercises designed to improve balance, strength and coordination. Participants feel that boxing classes help slow the progression of symptoms and make them feel more in control of the disease.

Fifth-year Husson University physical therapy student Kara Casavant is the lead coach of the boxing sessions. According to Casavant, “The relationships that form between the boxers and the student volunteers are incredible and often provide participants with another support system. The progress the participants have made has been amazing and there’s no better feeling than watching a boxer accomplish a new skill or movement that they’ve been struggling with! The Fighting Eagles Boxing Club allows the participants to work on functional movements, coordination, and strength which makes everyday activities easier, despite their disease.”

In addition to helping members of the local Parkinson’s community, the Fighting Eagles Boxing Club offers valuable educational benefits to Husson physical therapy students. “This club provides students with the chance to interact directly with people who have Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Sondra Siegel, an associate professor at Husson University’s School of Physical Therapy. “The boxing-centered wellness classes offer hands-on, real-life experience that helps students better understand and appreciate the nuances of interacting with clients. It also provides them with the opportunity to see the participants as vibrant members of the community rather than as patients in a clinic. Furthermore, it gives them the valuable experience of developing and leading a community wellness program while they are students.” 

The classes are held every Monday afternoon from 3–4:15 p.m. at the Bangor Y at 17 Second Street. Anyone with Parkinson’s disease interested in participating in these classes or getting additional information can contact the Fighting Eagles through their Facebook page at A “send message” button is located at the top of the page.  People can also email the Fighting Eagles Boxing Club at or contact Dr. Siegel at 207-941-7049.

The boxing-centered wellness class is entirely run by Husson students. These students lead the class as instructors and help the participants perform the activities correctly as student volunteers. Activities that take place during the class include circuit training, weight training, balance activities, and boxing drills using gloves, pads, and heavy bags.

While the boxing classes are free for all participants, the club does ask that members of the public purchase their own glove liners if they use the club’s boxing gloves. The liners can be purchased through the club.

Back in 2017, local area residents diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease had few wellness or exercise groups devoted exclusively to their needs. To address this situation, physical therapy students at Husson University formed the Fighting Eagles Boxing Club.

Any Husson student can join the Fighting Eagles Boxing Club. The club is open to all students interested in facilitating a wellness class, the healthcare field and bettering the community.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive affliction that affects the nervous system. Those with the disease exhibit tremors, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movements. It chiefly affects middle-aged and elderly people. Well-known public figures who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease include actor Michael J. Fox, boxer Muhammad Ali, Attorney General Janet Reno and singer Linda Ronstadt.

According to the Maine Parkinson’s Society, Parkinson’s disease affects more than 1.5 million people nationally, including several thousand in Maine. Some of the biggest symptoms are the slowing and diminishing of movement (normal movements become slower and smaller), increasing body stiffness (harder time with general body movement), and changes in walking (smaller, shuffling steps start to occur).

Anyone with Parkinson’s disease, regardless of the stage of the disease’s progression is welcome to attend a wellness class. Participants at all levels of ability are welcome.

All students are vaccinated and wear masks during the sessions. Participants are required to wear masks as well.

Husson’s School of Physical Therapy provides the advanced knowledge students need to become skilled and knowledgeable practitioners who collaborate with a patient’s health care team to help maximize function. Students can enroll in any of three programs: a six-year bachelor of science in exercise science/doctor of physical therapy degree; a three-year doctor of physical therapy degree or a doctor of physical therapy/master of business administration dual degree program.

The School of Physical Therapy is just one of several schools that are a part of Husson University’s College of Health and Pharmacy. Others include the School of Nursing, the School of Occupational Therapy, and the School of Pharmacy.

The facilities at Husson include designated physical and therapy lecture rooms and labs, a cadaver dissection lab, excellent library resources and wireless computer access.

For more than 120 years, Husson University has shown its adaptability and strength in delivering educational programs that prepare future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent a superior value in higher education. The hallmarks of a Husson education include advanced knowledge delivered through quality educational programs in business; health and education; pharmacy studies; science and humanities; as well as communication. According to a recent analysis of tuition and fees by U.S. News & World Report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit