Residents Fighting Fit at De la Cour House

Boxing Fit at Clanmil – Residents at a care home in East Belfast are taking a fun and novel approach to keeping fit. Pictured from left to right: De la Cour Manager House Tammy Forsyth, resident Sammy Johnston and boxing coach Joe Harvey.

Residents at a care home in East Belfast are taking a fun and novel approach to keeping fit

Clanmil Housing has recently introduced a weekly boxing exercise class for the elderly residents at De la Cour House, just off the Beersbridge Road, led by former champion boxer and coach of champions Joe Harvey.

The class has proven popular with residents, most of whom are over the age of 70 and many of them have conditions such as dementia. As well as helping build up strength and fitness with the use of boxing gloves, pads and resistance bands, the class has also seen some of the quieter residents become more confident and sociable.

The success of the initiative has led Clanmil to roll out Joe’s classes to two more Care Homes; Giboney House in Belfast and Marriott House in Magherafelt.

Pól Callaghan, Executive Director of Customer and Communities at Clanmil said:

“Being older should never mean throwing in the towel. We know that keeping active and spending time with others can contribute to good mental and physical health in old age, and we’re looking forward to bringing Joe’s class to residents in our other two care homes. We already offer armchair yoga to residents which improves flexibility and general wellbeing. The boxing is providing them with a chance to really test their strength and fitness while having a bit of fun.”

“Activities that help older people stay active and connected, such as these classes, are part of Clanmil’s new Older People Strategy.  People are now living for longer and their expectations are changing, and at Clanmil we recognise that our services need to be flexible and adapt. Our new strategy focuses on how we ensure we are providing the types of homes and services that people need, so that they get the most from life as they grow older.”

Joe Harvey helped to train former professional bantamweight boxer Ryan Burnett amongst others, commenting on his personal reason for wanting to share his skills with older people Joe said:

“I used to go and visit my granny Mary in a care home years ago, and I would think what a shame it was that these people, who have given so much to society, were sitting there with no stimulation or encouragement to be active. My career in boxing and as a coach taught me the benefits of exercise for mental and physical health and I wanted to share that.

“So far, the response from the residents in De La Cour has been fantastic. I have designed a programme for them, and I adapt my coaching style to suit their needs. Even at this early stage, I can see that they are getting fitter and stronger. They have a great attitude, they are willing to try, and their faces just light up during the class.”

The classes have been great for encouraging residents to socialise with their neighbours and improving their strength and endurance.

De la Cour resident Sammy Johnston who has thrived at the boxing class said: “The boxing is good and even though I’ve never done it before, I feel like I’m getting stronger. Joe helps me a lot and tells me how to do it.”