De La Cour residents box their way to health Posted on 2 January 2024

People living in De la Cour House in Belfast have been getting fit and having fun thanks to a new boxing class.  

Most of the residents are aged in their 70s and older and many of them have dementia, but they have taken to the exercise class with huge enthusiasm thanks to the infectious energy of former boxer and coach Joe Harvey.  

As well as helping residents build up strength and fitness with the use of boxing gloves, pads and resistance bands, the class has also helped some of the quieter residents become more confident and sociable.   

De La Cour boxing class
Sammy, who lives at De La Cour, pictured with Tammy Forsyth, Home Manager and Joe Harvey, boxing coach 

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 is useful for 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.” 

Pól continued: 

“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.” 

The De La Cour boxing class is being delivered by Joe Harvey, a former boxer and coach who helped to train former professional bantamweight boxer Ryan Burnett amongst others.  He has a 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 stronger and more flexible. They have a great attitude. They are willing to try, and their faces just light up during the class.” 

De La Cour resident Sammy Johnston 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.” 

Joe will be bringing his boxing class to Clanmil’s two other care homes, Giboney House in Belfast and Marriott House in Magherafelt in the new year.

Watch this short video about the boxing class: