The Department of Health Sciences’ Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling alumna Amanda Novachek was on the Triangle Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list for her work as owner and head coach of Rock Steady Boxing NC Triangle. The list highlights people making a difference in the triangle through their work in the community.
Novachek’s Personal Beginning with Parkinson’s Disease
Novachek received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Appalachian State University. While in college, she mentored a high school student with disabilities, leading her to desire a career involving work with people with disabilities.
Her decision to pursue a master’s degree in CRMH was personal. While in college and spending time with a significant other’s family, Novachek noticed the grandfather – who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – trying to keep up with family conversations by writing down his thoughts. He was unable to do so because of his disease and eventually stopped trying.
“Watching him slowly stop being a part of his family conversations stuck with me – he had no voice and no one to advocate for him,” Novachek said. “I wanted to be that advocate for people with Parkinson’s disease and show others that those who cannot advocate for themselves are not less valuable.”
While pursuing her master’s degree, Novachek was simultaneously pursuing her passion to work with people with Parkinson’s disease by establishing Rock Steady Boxing NC Triangle.
Knocking Out Parkinson’s: Rock Steady Boxing NC Triangle
Rock Steady Boxing NC Triangle was established in 2017, the same year Novachek graduated from the CRMH program, to help change the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease. The program combines boxing and physical activities with mental health activities.
“Physical activity helped me manage my own anxiety and depression, which changed my life,” Novachek said. “I knew I wanted to incorporate physical activity therapy as a form of rehabilitation for this population for the same reason.”
Rock Steady Boxing offers boxing, yoga and functional fitness classes. The company has grown from offering four classes a week with 25 people to now serving more than 100 people in two locations and online – an option for people who want to join classes from other locations.
Novachek is most proud of the sense of community built behind the program. “We’ve all become each other’s family,” she said.
The Journey Continues with Growth in Mind
Novachek admits that she cried when she found out she was included on the Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list.
“I know what I do is very valuable and important to the people around me, and people are appreciative, but not many people are vocal about it,” she said. “While going to graduate school and starting a business was difficult, it also felt like nobody saw it. Now, the recognition is a nice reminder to keep going.”
The plan for the future of Rock Steady Boxing is its continuation and ongoing growth. Novachek is interested in moving into more therapy aspects of mental health to reach people with Parkinson’s disease and other life stages.