Women build muscles and connections in Auburn Gresham

December 14, 2011

Bill Healy

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All week long we’ve been meeting characters in the city’s little-known South Side Auburn Gresham neighborhood. Today we’re continuing our series Auburn Gresham, Chicago with a small business owner who was born in Auburn Gresham but now lives in nearby Beverly.

When Kimberley Rudd set out six years ago to open a small workout facility in Auburn Gresham, she knew she wanted it to be sort of like the old TV show Cheers: a place where everybody knows your name. 

These days, her Curves Auburn Gresham is a place where women of a variety of ages go to help each other get stronger, physically and emotionally.

But at first, it was a hard sell. When she was trying to get her business off the ground, Rudd would walk the streets of Auburn Gresham, handing out fliers.

Some women balked at her invitation to join the gym. “What are you trying to say? You saying I'm fat?" was the response.

Finding new members is still a constant pressure for Rudd. But so too is catering to the women who arrive to workout at the facility each day.

Rudd handles it with grace, answering the phone, helping women use the equipment, even sweeping the floors when necessary.

Here, Rudd talks about being a small business owner in a minority neighborhood, and how she feels compelled to help the women of Auburn Gresham stay strong.

Auburn Gresham, Chicago received support from the Chicago Community Trust's Local Reporting Initiative.