When Kathy Ruda first sets out to design an event she asks herself, “what kind of fitness event would give me FOMO?”
Here’s her answer: Beyonce on the soundtrack, a sleek and focused class space within one the of city’s most beautiful fitness clubs, top-notch trainers, local sponsors to provide fortifying snacks, palpable energy — not just expendable fitness energy but a blend of excitement and sense of community — and of course, a charity to benefit from all of the proceeds.
She calls it Brunch X Burn and you don’t want to miss it.
Since May 2016, Kathy’s idea, pronounced ‘brunch and burn,’ has grown into a highly anticipated pop-up fitness experience open to all Chicagoans. This past January, her Barry’s Bootcamp edition sold out with two minutes of open registration.
It’s a truly one-of-kind experience thanks to the clarity of her vision and the enthusiasm of participants on all sides of the event.
“I started Brunch X Burn because I wanted to find a way for the fitness community to come together, try out new workouts, learn about new healthy restaurants and companies and ‘sweat for a cause’ by giving back to the community in a unique way,” says Ruda.
As a self-described creative connector, Kathy has no qualms getting all parties involved. The community she speaks of isn’t limited to event participants. She consciously incorporates her favorite local health, wellness, and beauty sponsors, trainers, and charities into each Brunch X Burn event — ensuring that everyone benefits from the introduction.
When Kathy says, “I love working with and meeting new like-minded people,” she doesn’t leave anyone out.
Take the Brunch X Burn at Barry’s Bootcamp.
Not only did Kathy recruit trainer Spencer Lloyd to lead a workout with a special Kanye-inspired playlist but she invited a friend from Nike to educate attendees about the new Training Metcon DSX, a handful of stylists from Blowout Junkie to give out fun fitness braids, and of course counted on True Food Kitchen to deliver a delicious spread of home-made parfaits, vegan chorizo burritos, and more.
That’s the community — totally limitless.
Did we mention the charitable component? Since May, Brunch X Burn has raised money for various charities. Every event is coordinated solely on donations from sponsors and vendors involved.
“For every event the main partners are different and the charities we give back to are all different,” says Kathy, whose philanthropic partners have spanned the likes of AVON 39, the Run 10 Feed 10 fund, and the Chicago Pet Rescue. The constant rotation not only keeps every event fresh and exciting but also helps to expand the Brunch X Burn’s reach and local impact.
Next on the roster is the Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy, a nonprofit located on Chicago’s South Side dedicated to creating access to art, culture and educational training opportunities.
“This next one is going to be held at the new Jordan brand space and we’re partnering with fully-prepped meal delivery service called Kitchfix,” “This next one is really exciting,” Kathy tells us. In addition to the Little Black Pearl, she’s lined up Station 23 as the venue, the Jordan Brand space on State Street next to their store.
“There really isn’t much opportunity to workout at the Jordan space aside from a big activation or event either led through the Jordan team or Nike team, so it’s a unique opportunity to host an event of this size there.”
To build hype for the upcoming event at the Jordan space, Kathy extended an invite to local athletes, trainers, and Muses for a in-person photoshoot. Everyone from Whitney Wandland, Miss Illinois USA; Ariana Rosado, a dancer for the Chicago Bulls; Nazareth Sanders, an instructor for SoulCycle; fitness model, Travis Bluemling; Nike and Jordan Brand Master Trainer, Bryan Jackson; and health and wellness guru, Addie Martanovic, and more turned out.
The results are stunning.
Kathy doesn’t just draw a crowd, she knows how to bring out the best of her city. It takes thinking outside of your community to realize just how big that community is. In fact, she’s already begun to put feelers out for an expansion.
“In the next few months, I’m going to take a trip to New York and LA to see if we can bring Brunch X Burn to the coasts,” says Ruda. “I’m excited to scope out the fitness scene and see how it comes alive over there.”
In the meantime, you still have time to register for the Brunch X Burn Jordan edition at Station 23 on State Street, Sunday, March 19th. Aren’t you feeling motivated?