This week's blog was expertly written by our guest blogger Jonathan Gainey who presented and exhibited at DSAIA2019 and plans to join us again in 2020.
There is a lot of water coming off of me and I am not sure what is happening!
I’ve been working within the Down Syndrome community now for over 3 years and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for being brought into this circle. In 2017 I began working with the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware when we started a teen and adult boxing and fitness program for their members. What started a weekly class for a twelve-week session has turned into a year-round program, and their most heavily attended program to-date.
Since the program was started, I have co-founded Down to Box, a national non-profit that replicates what we did in Delaware for gyms across the country. The training we provide instructors and support we provide gym owners allows individuals throughout the country with Down syndrome and other intellectual or developmental disabilities the opportunity to box, gain strength, increase coordination and make friends along the way.
Our Down to Box program in Newark, Delaware brings so much joy, energy and excitement to our local participants. It’s something the community desperately needed- consistent programs for teens and adults- while still being extremely low maintenance and high reward for the local Down syndrome organization.
One key part of the program- getting participants active and sweating! We had a young woman first start our program and proclaim “I have water coming off of me- I am not sure what is happening!?”- that was sweat, and her mom said that at 27 years old she had never truly sweat before.
Boxing and cardio go hand in hand and many of the options available for people over the age of 18 do not bring the physicality and intensity that would give them the health benefits they need. Boxing training is inherently cardio heavy and pushes the individuals in ways they are not typically exposed to. The fitness part of the Down to Box program is masked by the boxing aspect that is fun, engaging and interactive.
We recently established an affiliate program through the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville with Debbie Revels and Coach Angel Castro. The program has been a huge success with nothing but eager, smiling and sweaty faces each week! Angel coaches the program with the same standards and intensity that he holds his other boxing classes and the results speak for themselves. Our coaches have high expectations of our boxers and are interactive and personable- the key values of Down to Box.
We currently have 5 Down to Box Affiliate programs throughout the country and are working with Leah Janke of the Down Syndrome Association of the Midlands to bring the program to Omaha next! Luckily for the local Down syndrome association, starting up the class and training the instructions is all handled by Down to Box. I have 15 years of experience within the gym industry and understand what goes into operating a successful facility and what coaches would be a good fit for the Down to Box program. There is no cost to the local organization, some DSAs do choose to supplement the cost for participants but that is not necessary.
I’m eager to be in touch with more DSAs around the country so that the Down to Box program can positively impact more lives.
So if you want more information about Down to Box, contact me at: