Swift Current long-term care residents get active through boxing workouts
Long-term care residents in Swift Current have been participating in a pilot program that uses boxing exercises to improve their physical and social health.
The group of 10 long-term care residents at The Meadows decided to call themselves the Golden Gloves.
They had been putting on boxing gloves and working out with the help of volunteers from the local Counterpunch Boxing Academy.
Steve Krochak participated in boxing as a teenager in Yorkton during the Second World War and he decided to sign up for this program.
“I thought it would be a neat cycle to say that I did a little bit of boxing in high school and I'm doing more now that I'm 91 years old,” he said.
He had some recent health problems, but he always had an active lifestyle and until about 18 months ago he was still golfing three times a week. He therefore enjoyed the workouts provided to participants in this boxing program.
“I don't think of it as boxing so much as coordination and fitness and strength and that sort of thing, because I'm not going to hit anybody on the nose and I hope nobody does that to me,” he said with a smile. “I see it as using boxing moves and techniques to just general development. … Some fitness for one thing, as well as coordination and strength in parts of the body that I didn't have it in before, mostly that.”
He also enjoyed the social part of the program, which provided participants an opportunity to interact with each other and with the volunteers from the boxing club.
“They're a great bunch of people, both sitting here on the receiving end of it and the instructors,” he said.
Jason Teichroeb is another resident who participated in the pilot program. He enjoyed the physical activity of punching the bag and working out with battle ropes.
“I feel tired,” he laughed, but he agreed it was a good kind of tired.
Recreation therapists Camille Campbell and Sara Stukings started the pilot boxing program at The Meadows. Campbell saw a video about the positive results of a boxing program for people with Parkinson’s disease, but they decided to offer the program to any interested residents of The Meadows.
They approached Nick Habscheid, the head coach at Counterpunch Boxing Academy, and he was eager to be involved with the program.
“Nick was all for it as soon as we mentioned the idea,” Campbell said. “He was very excited about it and I think that shows in our program as well. He definitely brings a great aspect to the program where we couldn't do that.”
The boxing club provided the equipment for the program and Habscheid was joined by volunteers from the club for each week’s workout session with the long-term care residents.
“It's a great experience,” he said. “It just makes you feel like you're helping out the community so much here. … They're going to improve their mobility and their strength, and you just feel really good when you leave here.”
Other club members equally enjoyed their involvement with the program and the opportunity to help participants to be more active.
“We got a couple of younger people and it's always nice seeing younger people helping the older people out, and people who have had some experience with The Meadows before had come back,” he said. “It’s just people who want to help out and represent the club as best as they can.”
Various boxing exercises were used during each workout session, but the club had to be creative to come up with activities that were appropriate for the longterm care residents.
They also had to keep in mind that most of the participants have reduced mobility and some of the typical boxing exercises could there not be used.
“We're trying to use some things from the club, but you have to remember that some stuff can't work with them, like a lot of the leg stuff that we do in boxing with the footwork,” he said. “Most of that had to be eliminated, but translating some of the punching pad drills and the bag drills. That's the first time I've ever done the knuckles drill with reaction time and some are actually really good at that.”
The six-week program concluded on April 18. The participants met once a week for about an hour on a Thursday evening. Ten individuals were involved for the entire duration of the pilot program, while other residents also joined some of the workouts.
A key goal of the pilot project is to evaluate the physical condition of the 10 full-time participants to determine the benefits of the program. The assessments will include an evaluation of improvements in coordination, strength and stability, as well as social improvements and their quality of life.
“Even just watching the residents in the class and outside of the class throughout the week we've seen some great improvements already,” Stukings said.
Campbell referred to a participant who initially had difficulty to keep his balance when he was throwing a punch.
“He would almost fall back into his chair,” she recalled. “Now he's 10 to 15 minutes straight without sitting down. So you can definitely see the benefits you have in that. Even the strength in their punches that they're punching is amazing, the amount of difference that we see.”
They have also noticed the benefits of the social interaction between residents who came to the workouts.
“We've had some residents who hadn't met each other before and now they look forward to seeing each other every Thursday night,” Stukings mentioned. “Normally we arrive early before the boxing club is able to come. So there's always a small discussion and just seeing those relationships being formed between the residents is amazing.”
The evaluation of this pilot program will be used to determine the future use of such a boxing activity at The Meadows or at other long-term care facilities in the province. Both recreation therapists expressed their appreciation towards Counterpunch Boxing Academy for supporting the pilot program.
“We just really want to give a shout out to Nick and the volunteers from the boxing club,” Stukings said. “We wouldn't have been able to do this without them and they've given up a lot of their free time and just time spent coming up with different drills for the residents to do. We're just very thankful that they were willing to give up that time and come and spend it with our residents.”
The Meadows resident Lucien Auger hits out at punching pads held by recreation therapist Camille Campbell, April 11.
Above: Participants in the pilot boxing program at The Meadows in Swift Current and volunteers from the Counterpunch Boxing Academy pose for a group photo, April 11.
The Meadows resident Jason Teichroeb strikes out at pool noodles held by Nick Habscheid, the head coach at Counterpunch Boxing Academy.
Steve Krochak tris working those arms.
Ninety-one-year-old Steve Krochak does a punching bag workout with the help of recreation therapists Sara Stukings (holding the bag) and Camille Campbell, April 11.
The Meadows resident Lucien Auger hits a punching pad held out by Derek Smout of the Counterpunch Boxing Academy.
Nick Habscheid, the head coach at Counterpunch Boxing Academy, demonstrates some punching drills to participants in the pilot boxing program, April 11.