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It's Not a Workout Unless You Work

A different kind of gym at KC's Fitness

Kevin Cunningham, owner of KC’s Fitness and Boxercise, has been in the fitness training business since high school. His gym, located in the beautiful old First Presbyterian Church next to Kleinhans Music Hall, is designed to give those who are willing a very serious workout. I suppose someone could go there to lightly putter around with some weights, but generally that’s not the case. This is a place where personal trainers will help push you to achieve what you didn’t believe was possible. It comes with a lot of hard work, but the effect can be transformational. Artvoice dropped in to for brief conversation with Kevin and to film some workout activity.

AV: Why would someone come to KC’s Fitness instead of a traditional fitness center?

K.C.: I think what sets us apart from some of the other facilities is that it’s very athletically based here. There are no bells and whistles. People will come and use martial arts and boxing as a cross-training modality. Anytime you’re applying force against resistance, you’ll get stronger. Whether you’re lifting weights or you’re hitting a 200-pound heavy bag, it’s all the same.

But what makes this place a little more appealing to people is that you’re practicing and learning a skill. Learning a skill has a great value; it doesn’t have to be boxing or martial arts, it can be dancing, for that matter. But there is always something compelling about learning a new skill.

There’s nothing unconscious about doing the type of training we do here. You don’t zone out on TV while walking on a treadmill. You have to be mindful, you have to be in the moment. If your attention starts to go someplace else, you’re not going to perform well and you also might be susceptible to injury. When you’re working out here, you can’t be thinking about whether tomorrow is big garbage day or something. You’ve got to be here, you’ve got to be now.

And I believe that when people are focused on working as hard as they can for 45 minutes to an hour, not only do they reap the physical benefits of that, but also I think they reap mental benefits, and possibly even spiritual benefits too.

When you’re here you might be watching people and they might be flipping tires in the parking lot, they might be doing various types of training that come out of the martial arts. But they’re learning a skill. So not only are you getting very fit, building strength and improving your cardio, but you’re also learning some self-defense.

Any gym is a good place for someone to be, however people have different needs. Some people get bored at a traditional fitness center, or maybe they get intimidated when they go into a gym that has a strong body-building culture. Some gyms may have a fashion culture that makes someone if they’re dressed well enough or if their make-up looks good. When you’re sweating your ass off, you know mascara dripping down your face doesn’t look too pretty. That’s certainly not true of most gyms, but I know for sure that here you don’t need to put make-up on; you don’t need to make sure that your hair is nice, because you’re just going to get real tired. And no one cares what you look like. People care if you’re doing the exercises properly. People care if you’re performing the right technique.

The bottom line is that you come here with the mindset that no one is watching me, and if they are watching me, they’re only watching me to help me.

The young guys who you filmed here today, one of the gentlemen is a professional athlete, so he’s an instructor here. Two of the other gentlemen, they’ve been coming here for a couple of years now. They’re very serious about their training and they have a high degree of fitness.

But you should know that we also have folks who are in their 70s, people who are not fit. We have people come in who haven’t exercised since high school and they’re in their f50s.

The point is that anyone can do this. Naturally, not everyone is exercising with the intensity of the gentlemen that were here this afternoon. But everyone has to start someplace. And where you start is where you start. And you will still reap the same type of rewards even though one person is lifting five pounds and someone else is lifting a hundred pounds. You know, some people come here four or five days a week and others will come once or twice. We have folks who belong to other gyms but they come here because there is a very specific type of training that’s difficult to find in other places; so they just come once a week but they’re able to get a great deal out of it.

Obviously, this kind of workout will make someone stronger and improve their cardiovascular fitness. But I had a gentleman last year in his 60s who said his balance was dramatically better than it had been. Another gal told me she was able to garden again and not be sore. She said, “I have horrible carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrist and this training has allowed to do my greatest joy in the world, which is to dig in the dirt.”

And I can tell you that hundreds of people over the years told me that not only did they lose weight, but that it was easier to give up smoking and other vices. You change the bad habits for good habits.

The bottom line here is that we want you to get stronger, enhance your energy level and enjoy your progress with a great sense of play. And it can be done. When we’re children you play for hours and you don’t even notice the time. There’s a good bit of that that goes on here, and certainly as children I think we’re probably in the best condition of our lives.

—AV Interview by J.M.

KC's Fitness & Boxercise is located at 1 Symphony Circle. Visit them on the web at

Kevin Cunningham has devised a 21 day challenge designed to whip your butt into shape, visit the Health Channel on Artvoice TV.

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