On any given day you can find her there, at Nash Performance Training Center in Las Vegas, mentally glued to her clients as she coaxes, cajoles, and encourages them through a busy workout. She could be just a kid, in her early 20’s maybe, usually wearing a tank top, shorts, and always some interesting socks. Her untethered hair, long and straight and sandy colored, sways with her movements, sticking wildly to her skin as the arid desert air loses the battle with her athletic need to perspire. Her arms, adorned with some beautiful ink work, are slender and fit like the rest of her body, and both her posture and ability tell you right away she is a boxer. The hand wraps and gloves and her pounding the crap out of a heavy bag between clients also gives it away. No matter what she is working on with those clients, she is putting in just as much effort as the clients she is training. She is committed, not just counting reps or pushing the old guy across from her to exhaustion and calling it a workout, she is on a very specific and directed path to an unusual but admirable end.
Darbe Schlosser is a brain scientist. I don’t know if that’s the official term, but it describes what she does. Despite how young she looks, she is in her 30’s and she has her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. She will earn her second bachelor’s degree this fall in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. Many of her clients have Parkinson’s disease; some have other brain disorders or brain injuries. She also works with some athletes that make use of the science she applies to improve performance in their sport. Right now she is working with Tennis players.
Darbe explains how she got started. “I got involved with boxing for the first time when I was in my early twenties. It started off as a hobby and then eventually grew into something much bigger and more powerful than I ever imagined. Once I started seeing first hand the benefits of not only exercise but exercise with a purpose and its effect on those with neurological disease or trauma I became engulfed with this desire to learn and soak up as much knowledge as possible about the brain and its many complexities. While going to school, I was fortunate enough to learn not only from the textbooks but from the clients themselves. It was within those two worlds of education and real world application that allowed me to think outside the box yet critically and develop a way to bridge the gap between cognition and movement.”
Darbe started a company called Plastic Hippo. “Plastic Hippo is a play on words for plasticity in the hippocampus, the learning hub of the brain. I incorporate boxing patterns to help rebuild and restrengthen more efficient movement patterns in people with brain disease/trauma as well as tennis players. I am currently building a research design for the Parkinson’s population with the support of some of Las Vegas most credible scientists and doctors. I want my program to become licensed to professional continuing education programs making Plastic Hippo accessible worldwide to those with Parkinson’s.”
These are admirable dreams turning into reality for a young girl you would never take for a brain scientist, at first glance, or second probably, or third. But her clients see it because she is changing their lives.