Hope for PD sufferers

Black Dog Fitness opens gym, offers boxing, exercise programs to fight against Parkinson’s disease

  • A Friday, Dec. 3, Rock Steady Boxing class gears up to fight against Parkinson’s disease at Black Dog Fitness’ new location, 9965 Kingston Pike across from SunTrust Bank near the Pellissippi overpass in West Knoxville. - Photo submitted

  • In a rare family photo, Zach Guza shares a special moment with his dad, the late Sam Guza, who died from Parkinson’s disease. - Photo submitted

Zach Guza, owner/founder/operator of Black Dog Fitness, has expanded his business, opening a location and fitness programs that benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

A certified personal trainer and Parkinson’s exercise specialist, Guza recently opened Black Dog Fitness at 9965 Kingston Pike, across from SunTrust Bank near the Pellissippi overpass in West Knoxville, where he shares space with Vital Signs Wellness.

Along with his existing personal training business, Guza provides an online Parkinson’s Gym program and in-house Rock Steady Boxing. He will be adding The Parkinson’s Peloton, tai chi, music therapy and dance classes to his weekly class schedule starting in early 2022.

The gym also will hold a punch-a-thon fundraiser, Punching for Parkinson’s, in February, during which people sign up to box and then get pledges — or just donations — for how many punches they throw in one minute.

“It is a great event and all the money goes to make exercise programs more effective and affordable for the local Parkinson’s community,” Guza said.

To learn more about Rock Steady Boxing and other programs, he is hosting free, informal Community Coffee Socials from 9 to 10 a.m. every Friday in December and January in the gym, where people can come in and see how those programs work.

“I love it,” he said about the new Parkinson’s disease-centered gym. “This has been a dream of mine … It has endless possibilities, I think.

“(PD patrons) will have the expertise, they will have the facility, they will have the support in the community to do what they need to do, to get the exercise they need to get, the environment they need it in and in the intensity they need it,” Guza added. “It’s right there and readily available.

“We want to make sure as many people know about this.”

While exercise and staying active is crucial for Parkinson’s patients, Guza acknowledged exercise programs for people with Parkinson’s disease is “terribly underserved.”

One of his programs, Rock Steady Boxing Knoxville, is a non-contact, boxing-inspired group fitness program exclusively for people fighting Parkinson’s.

“RSB has proven to dramatically improve the quality of life for people with PD,” he said. “Movement is just as important as taking your medicine, and I want to be here for anyone with Parkinson’s that wants to fight for their life.

“Rock Steady shows people with Parkinson’s that there is hope and there are still good days ahead,” Guza added.

Rock Steady classes start at 10:30 a.m, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 12:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday. Called The Parkinson’s Peloton, they begin at 11 a.m., Tuesdays, and 12:30 p.m., Fridays.

For more information, visit online at balckdogfitness.com, e-mail Guza at zacharyguza@gmail.com or call 865-387-0415.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Guza started Black Dog Fitness to help people overcome depression and anxiety.

His focus shifted for a very personal reason.

Guza brought RSB to Knoxville in honor of his father, Sam Guza, who had Parkinson’s but did not get the exercise support he needed.

“He died very quickly due to Parkinson’s Disease because, essentially, when he sat down, he never really got up,” he said. “I want to make sure that what happened to my dad doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

“I’ve seen it with my own eyes (the benefits of RSB). The improvements on balance, gait, mood and strength are unbelievable, and the atmosphere of being surrounded by people in the fight with you — it’s like nothing else,” Guza added.

Making comparisons, “No other program in Town offers this every day of the week so I knew what I had to do,” he said.