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'Badass' Seniors Find A Home At Southside Knockout Training Center

 About 40 seniors exercise regularly at Southside Knockout Training Center in Mount Greenwood. Several said the specialized workouts are far more challenging than other fitness classes aimed at adults 55 and older.
Southside Knockout Training Center
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MOUNT GREENWOOD — Cathy McBride admits to having a bit of swagger in her voice when she tells others about working out at Southside Knockout Training Center in Mount Greenwood.

McBride, 60, never thought she'd be interested in the gym that opened eight years ago to train mixed marital artists. But 2½ months ago, she learned about the Fit For Life program at 3504 W. 111th St.

The program caters to seniors 55 and older, offering 30-minute, high-intensity workouts Monday-Friday. The low-impact exercises rely mostly on an individual's own body weight with exercises such as pushups, planks, pull-ups and more.

Sara Hayes, 64, of Evergreen Park works a pair of heavy ropes Friday at Southside Knockout Training Center in Mount Greenwood. The gym at 3504 W. 111th St. has been offering classes for seniors since April 19. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]

Owners Bryan and Katie Harney said the workouts are designed for seniors who aren't interested in going to a traditional gym — often filled with younger people and rows upon rows of machines.

And yet the Southside Knockout workouts are still challenging — unlike some other senior gyms that at times consist of little more than sitting in a chair curling one-pound dumbbells, said Katie Harney, a West Beverly resident.

"It makes people in this population feel like a badass," Katie Harney said of the seniors who work out at Southside Knockout.

Classes are offered at 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. There are about 40 regular participants in the Fit For Life program, which debuted April 19, Harney said.

A group of seniors at Southside Knockout Training Center in Mount Greenwood said the Fit For Life classes offer both personal instruction and an appropriate amount of intensity. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]

McBride, a Mount Greenwood resident, said she was chauffeuring her 15-year-old granddaughter to the gym before signing on herself. She has since lost 6½ pounds and feels much stronger having adopted a three-day-a-week training schedule.

"I have my third grandchild on the way, and I want to be as strong for the third grandchild as I was for the first one," McBride said Friday.

Harney as well as instructors Paige Johnson of Mount Greenwood and Mike Erickson of West Beverly became certified with the Functional Aging Institute ahead of debuting the program at Southside Knockout.

A group of seniors at Southside Knockout Training Center come together at the end of class Friday morning in Mount Greenwood. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]

Erickson, 58, described the training as a "real life changer," adding the workouts are coupled with nutritional consulting to help seniors see real gains in strength, appearance and most importantly feeling an overall improvement in their health.

"You need to challenge yourself to your capacity. It can't be easy," Erickson said about one of the lessons he took away from the institute's training.

He also said the seniors at Southside Knockout don't have time to socialize during the short classes, which he said was a problem at his old gym. Here, seniors are paired with others who push them to complete more and more vigorous workouts.

"I have never left here when I don't feel like I got my butt kicked," said Erickson, who began training at the gym 3½ years ago.

Sara Hayes, 64, of Evergreen Park still has her membership at Charter Fitness. But the big-box gym didn't offer the individual attention she prefers, particularly after a recent fall in which she broke her humerus bone.

"This I like because it is different every time you come in, and everyone is at different levels. So they push you," Hayes said. "Before I came, I couldn't touch my toes, and now I can."