Boxing To Be Taught At Howell Senior Center

Nathan Headd absorbs a punch from Kit Lau. (Photo by Mark Bator)

  HOWELL – Learning to box may not be one of the activities people think of regarding senior citizens, but a new program offered by the Howell Senior Center affords the opportunity to do just that. Former boxer Nathan Headd, who now serves as a Howell police officer, will teach the seven-week course to participants at the Howell Senior Center beginning in May.

  The idea for the program came from the Howell police department’s close association with Melanie Decker, the Director of Senior Services at the center. The senior center has run programs in the past such as Bingo with the Police, and Coffee with a Cop, but boxing has never been offered prior to 2022.

  “This is our first time,” said Decker, speaking about the boxing classes. “We’ve never taught it before. I work a lot with Howell P.A.L. and [they] reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to do a boxing program.”

Both men and women participated in the demonstration, and class enrollment is open to all. (Photo by Mark Bator)

  Officer Headd was the natural choice to serve as the instructor for the class, as he has been running the Police Athletic League’s Headd Strong Boxing program, teaching the sport to about 30 young hopefuls. A former marine, Headd was a member of the All-Marine boxing team and has competed around the country before being inducted into the Marine Corps Boxing Hall of Fame. As a youth coach, two of his current students, ages 11 and 13, have recently taken home the titles in their respective weight classes. Despite being already heavily involved with the community, Headd will be teaching the class without payment for his services.

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  “Part of his role over at P.A.L. was certainly community involvement,” Decker said. “Even being back on the road, he’s doing it as his lunch break. He’s not being paid. Any other program that I run, they’re getting paid. I need to have a minimum ten or fifteen people because it just isn’t fiscally sound to pay someone and not have enough participation.”

  After being introduced to the group by Decker, Headd took the microphone and gave a brief background about himself. But he quickly engaged the audience with explanations of boxing principles and physical displays of what would be learned if someone signed up for the course, albeit with a little humor.

  “There’s three things you have to do in order to be successful in boxing,” Headd explained during his demonstration at the senior center. “You have to be able to throw the punches, you have to be able to move your head, and you have to be able to get out of the way.”

  During the one-hour demonstration, Headd taught basic boxing stances, head movement, and foot work with several volunteers from the audience. The program will serve to provide a cardio workout for participants, but will also teach some basic self-defense moves, as well.

  “Are they going to be hitting each other? Absolutely not,” explained Decker. “They’re not going to be doing that. Nate is going to look and see what the members want, and he’s going to make this to their needs and their abilities.”

  The course lessons will begin through a warm-up session, with classes progressing through hand-eye coordination drills, learning punch combinations and participation in shadow boxing drills while wearing boxing gloves. The sessions would then close with a series of stretching exercises to cool down.

  “When people think of boxing, they think about the young people, the twenty-year-old competing,” said Headd. “But with this, it does a lot of great things to keep your mind going, keep the health good, keep the heart rate going. It’s not really crazy cardio, but it’s something that gets the body going and it’s fun.”

  In addition to the physical benefits to be derived from boxing, there are skills that will be learned that can aid in self-defense.

  “As a combat sport, you can definitely use it for self-defense,” explained Headd. “People know about the self-defense part, but don’t know how [boxing] actually helps you out mentally and physically to make you a healthier person.”

  “Coach Headd does teach self-defense, as well,” said Decker, “so he will contour it not just to [student’s] abilities, but also putting in self-defense [moves]. And, we discussed in the future maybe doing some self-defense classes.”

  The Senior Center had hoped that perhaps 10 seniors would sign up to take the class, but by the end of Officer Headd’s demonstration, more than twice that amount had signed up. Enrollment is still open for any members of the Senior Center who want to participate.

  “We’ll see how many people want to do it,” said Decker. “It’s wonderful. We’ve gotten a lot of calls on it.”

Melanie Decker (right) introduces Nathan Headd (center) to the group while Gene Cheong (left) gets ready to participate in the demonstration. (Photo by Mark Bator)

  The boxing classes are just the latest in a series of programs aimed at getting members involved at the Howell Senior Center.

  “We cater to sixty years [old] past one hundred, and we want to offer a little of something for everyone,” Decker explained about the Senior Center’s schedule. “We have aerobics twice a week, and chair yoga twice a week, and we have a great following for both of those. Tuesdays we rotate, and we do tai chi for several weeks. Right now, it’s ‘Meditation and Mindfulness.’ We’ve had Qigong, we’ve had line dancing, so now boxing is something new.”

  The seven-week course is scheduled to begin at the Howell Senior Center beginning on May 17 and will run every Tuesday between 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. until June 28. Pre-registration for the one-hour classes is required and those interested should call the Senior Center at 732-938-4500 ext. 2550 for further details.