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Village On The Isle resident Rudy Reinecke and boxing trainer Lee Anderson.

Featured Article

Pulling No Punches

Boxing Training At Village On The Isle Helps Improve Seniors' Cognitive Health

When Village On The Isle’s staff says they go the extra mile to provide their residents with every cultural and physical activity possible, they mean it. Just a take look at their latest physical training offering for their residents: a boxing program run by boxing professional Lee Anderson. Every Friday morning, VOTI seniors tie on boxing gloves, and Lee coaches them through tricky footwork and classic boxing punch combinations made famous by boxers like Mike Tyson and Joe Louis. 

While boxing might not seem like a natural fit for the senior set, the balance and focus required for the sport is in fact helpful for anyone trying to stay healthy, especially those with Parkinson’s and memory issues. The program was started by Marilyn Ward, Village On The Isle’s Lifestyle Manager, responsible for everything at the independent living community that falls under the umbrella of the resident life department. She oversees all fitness programs, campus events, off-campus trips, and more.

“A prior VOTI co-worker connected me with Lee,” Marilyn—currently working on a PhD in Health and Human Performance degree from Chicago’s Concordia University—explains. “We have been focusing on gerontology, longevity and cognitive health. The boxing fits into that. When I first heard about boxing training for seniors, I thought, ‘We have 70 to 80 year old seniors. How will that work?’ But we went through a whole session with Lee, and he showed us what it can do. The seniors are not punching each other out. They are training. Their heart rate increases more than in aerobics classes or simply lifting weights. Boxing is for anyone interested in improving their cognitive health. People who take the class love it, they are true fans. The group is loyal to Lee. We have installed new equipment for them, a standing punching bag, another mounted to the wall. We want to offer everything to our residents at Village On The Isle. Boxing is adding another benefit for our residents.”

Lee, a University of Minnesota grad, is married to Lorraine and is father to son Liam, 7, and newborn daughter, Lake. He fought in the 2001 Ringside National Championships, then arrived in Florida in Ocala to teach middle school. He eventually found his way to North Port, where he founded the North Port Boxing Club, where he has seen much success. One of his protégés from the North Port Boxing Club was runner up just this past year in the Police Athletic League Championships, a marquee matchup. Lee has been certified by the Neuro Challenge Foundation to train Parkinson’s patients and travels through 55+ communities teaching boxing.

“Village On The Isle is an older population,” Lee says. “I can’t train them like I do even 50-year-olds, but it’s very cool stuff. It’s footwork, they work on balance. You have to individualize every single person to their specific programs. I love working with an older population because they have so many life experiences and stories. I see them making progress and the smiles that puts on their faces. Working with seniors has benefited my coaching. They work hard and I am proud of them. It’s been a wonderful experience for all of us.” 

920 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice. 941.484.9753.

  • Coach Lee Anderson leads Pat Mousley through boxing combinations.
  • Bill Bouman and Lee Anderson.
  • From left to right, Pat Walther, Bill Bouman, Rudy Reinecke, Pat Mousley, and David Sutherlin at Village On The Isle..
  • Village On The Isle resident Rudy Reinecke and boxing trainer Lee Anderson.
  • Village On The Isle resident Pat Walther works on a speed bag.