Over 65s fitness with a difference – boxfit!

Advice articles
Over 65s fitness with a difference – boxfit!

Boxfit offers many strength & mobility benefits. You can try out boxing-based fitness classes for older people at the Arvida Good Friends Community Living Well Centre in Addington.

When you think of exercise classes for older adults, you might imagine gentle movement to music, or lots of people on resistance and cardio machines. You probably aren’t thinking about boxing, however boxfit is fast becoming one of the better ways for older people to get fit and stay strong. It’s good for your brain too, because there’s hand-eye co-ordination involved and the need to remember various combinations of movements.

At the Arvida Good Friends Living Well Centre in Christchurch there’s a gym dedicated to fitness for older adults. It includes boxfit classes run by Laura Organ, Moving Well Manager at the centre.

We interviewed Laura to find out what’s so great about boxfit for over 65s. Here’s what she had to say:

What is boxfit?

Boxfit is a boxing-inspired workout that can improve your strength, balance, cardio fitness, coordination and mobility. There’s pure boxing training involved, with punching and footwork, but there’s also a range of exercises that complement the boxing movements. Because you have to think about what you’re doing and remember sequences, boxfit is brain gym as well as body gym.

What sort of exercises are typically done during a boxfit class?

Typical exercises in a boxfit class include boxing combinations – one person boxing (wearing gloves); another person holding pads that the boxer has to hit. Other fitness exercises in the classes include:

  • squats, to work lower-body and core muscles
  • wall push ups, to work biceps, triceps, chest muscles and shoulder mobility
  • calf raises, to strengthen lower leg muscles and the plantar muscles of the foot
  • balance drills, to reduce the risk of falls during everyday life
  • lunges, for butt, legs and core muscles, as well as posture and range of motion
  • walking and marching, for cardio endurance
  • stretches, to improve muscle and joint flexibility

How does boxfit assist cardio fitness for over-65s?

Boxing itself is a good workout for the heart and lungs, because it uses lots of different muscles at the same time. As well as boxing, boxfit classes at the Arvida Good Friends Living Well Centre might include walking or marching to further improve cardio fitness. All exercises in the class are tailored to differing abilities, from the super-fit to the not-so-fit.

How does boxfit help with overall body strength for over-65s?

When you strike the pads during a boxfit class, your muscles must work to produce the movement. And then they work even harder while your glove is in contact with the pad. You don't have to hit the pads hard to get this benefit, so you can work at your own pace. To work the lower body, squats, calf raises, lunges and balance exercises are added into the workout.

How does boxfit help with flexibility?

At the start and end of every boxfit class there’s a segment on mobility and flexibility, including stretching of major muscle groups.

Maintaining good flexibility decreases the risk of injuries, such as fractures and muscle strains. It also improves balance, which reduces the risk of falling. What’s more, improving your flexibility can help to reduce chronic pain. As well as doing specific stretching movements, forming a habit of regular exercise helps mobility and flexibility.

Is boxfit fun?

Yes, but I could be biased! I've been teaching boxfit for 10+ years and have seen even the most apprehensive people come out of class with a smile. Apart from the joy of movement, the camaraderie between people in the class adds to the attraction of boxfit. There’s always plenty going on to smile, joke and laugh about.

Do women enjoy boxing-based fitness classes as much as men?

Absolutely. I think there's a bit more reluctance from women to try boxfit, probably because boxing was traditionally a men’s sport, but boxing-based fitness classes are for every age, every gender and every level of fitness.

One powerful reason for older women to give boxfit a go is osteoporosis. Boxfit can be a great way to improve bone density due to the impact when you strike the boxing pad. Not many other exercise options achieve this.

Can anyone start doing boxfit classes?

Anyone can join a boxfit class; you can even do boxing seated. While you’re building fitness you can take as many rests as you need. I have people in my class who are at the start of their fitness journey, as well as some who have been exercising for years. For every activity I offer options, so you can customise the class to your own fitness levels.

What happens during a boxfit class at the Arvida Good Friends Living Well centre?

We start with a warm up, which takes about 10 minutes. Then we do some light boxing drills, as well as a number of strength and balance exercises. At the end of the class, 5 to 10 minutes will be spent stretching. Classes are led by qualified and experienced exercise professionals who specialise in training older people, so you will be in good hands.

How much do boxfit classes cost at the Arvida Good Friends Christchurch gym?

  • If you’re a full member of the centre’s gym and pool, all classes are included. This is called a Moving Well Membership and it costs just $20 a week.
  • If you are on the $5 a week Living Well Membership, each boxfit class costs $5.
  • If you don’t want a membership, you are very welcome and you can pay $10 per class.

What do people generally wear to boxfit and do you need your own gloves?

Just wear loose-fitting comfortable clothing; preferably no jeans. Make sure your shoes are suitable for exercise. Bring a bottle of water to keep hydrated. All other equipment (gloves, pads etc) is supplied by the gym.

Want to find out more about our Christchurch fitness classes for older people? Get in touch with us.