Seniors use boxing to fight their way to health

Published: Aug. 28, 2022 at 9:58 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Seniors have a new program to fight their way to mental and physical health.

Seashore Highlands in Gulfport is using boxing as part of its exercise regimen, and residents are getting a kick out of throwing a punch.

In fact, there’s no doubt that boxing at Seashore Highlands has become a hit.

Former boxing star turned coach Louis Callahan is behind the innovative exercise class.

“Just to see the energy in here is overwhelming,” he said. “You know, we have a 100-year-old, 96, 97. You know, most of the class are in their 80′s and 90′s. And they’re moving and boxing. Man, that is something for me to see.”

The program, which started in February, is called “Punch Out Parkinson’s.” Anyone can join for free.

“Boxing is good because they hear the commands,” Callahan said. “If I say ‘jab,’ they ‘jab’ back. If I say ‘double jab,’ they say ‘jab, jab.’ "

The participation has grown beyond expectation, and the payoff has been big.

“We’ve seen people go from hardly being able to lift their arms to being able to lift their arms to standing up and boxing against the punching back, and it’s just been great,” said Seashore Highlands executive director Jennifer Persechino. “And for their overall well-being, they can’t want for boxing class every week. They have so much fun.”

Carol Cottone is a resident in the independent living section of Seashore Highlands.

“I think all the exercises that we do make us feel better, stronger, stretched out ... get rid of some of those aches and pains because we’re moving things,” she said. “And we’re learning to walk better. Balance. It’s really good for that.”

It’s a service that Callahan can’t get enough of providing.

“The joy of just seeing their faces, their mobility better,” he said. “When they go to the doctor, they seem to come back happier. And it’s a good feeling.”

The classes are at 10 a.m. every Wednesday and Friday, and Callahan says they will be offered for a long time to come.

Because of the success he has seen, he added, “Why would we stop?”

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