Former NBA player Kendall Gill inspires Chicagoans to stay fit during pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A former NBA star is inspiring the community to stay fit in the face of the pandemic.

In March, Kendall Gill decided to stop sitting around as the Covid-19 crisis intensified.

Word got out and now the 60/40 Club, headed by the retired basketball player, meets on Chicago's South Side at Dunbar Park.

Gill, who is an icon of Illini basketball and a graduate of Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields, helps friends meet the 60/40 challenge. It is comprised of a 60 yard sprint, followed by a 40 yard jog, done twenty times, followed by 20 each of squats, push-ups, sit-ups, tabletops and planks. The next day, the number is increased to 21-- and so on until 45.

Dino Kourelis completed the cycle Tuesday.

"There was no way I was going to be able to finish it but just come in here seeing everybody encouraging us," Kourelis said.

That's the key, as everyone does the challenge at their own pace, in their own head.

The Attorney General of Illinois is part of the fitness group. Kwame Raoul contracted Covid-19 in May.

"I am not as strong as when I started when I was doing it back in May, but I am getting back. This is really helpful, it is working my lungs and in the rest of my body," Raoul said. "One of the things about the virus is it attacks your whole body and so I lost about 10 pounds."

His basketball running buddy, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, has also completed the cycle.

"Everyone is encouraging each other, just trying to get a little bit better a tiny bit better every single day. That is a metaphor for life right? I think we are all trying to get a little bit better every day," said Duncan.

Gill's community expanded on social media, which is how most of these folks started coming. To meet their goals, Gill trumpets a saying of Bulls Assistant Coach Johnny Bach.

"I don't care how rough the seas are, bring the ship in. And that is our motto out here. So when things get tough we just repeat that quote over and over. Until it becomes ingrained in everybody's memory and that's how they get through it," Gill said.

Dorian Dupree had two strokes three years ago.

"What is going through your mind when you were at that edge? Don't give up... 'Bring the ship in,' Kendall gill says all the time. For people who know how I was and how I am doing now- yeah, it is a challenge, but you can do it," Dupree said.

"I think this workout has helped so many people build up their immune system, get healthy so just in case they got infected they could fight the virus off. It's a beautiful thing," Gill said.

Gill himself lost 37 pounds running the cycle. ABC7's Baichwal is on day 2 of the challenge. It takes 50 days to complete.
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