Chicago gym offers free self-defense classes after recent West Loop attacks

The West Loop Community Organization is teaming up with a Chicago gym to host a series of self-defense classes – for free – in response to recent abduction attempts in the area.

Each session is just 45 minutes long and provides skills on how to protect and defend yourself from an attacker.

"It's uplifting to build a skill that builds your confidence that makes you feel like you have more capabilities to be safe," said Katalin Rodriguez Ogren, owner of POW! Gym Chicago.

The move comes after a string of disturbing attempted abduction incidents in the West Loop.

Last Sunday, police say 32-year-old Quavon Ewing tried to drag a woman to his car in the 200 block of South Sangamon Street.

On the same day, that suspect – who is a registered sex offender – allegedly beat up a second woman in the 100 block of Roosevelt Road and attacked a third woman on South State Street.

About a month earlier, a previous kidnapping attempt was reported near Sangamon and Adams.

"A walking city is one of the reasons why we love living in this city," said Rodriguez Ogren. "So we want people to feel still the sense of confidence that they belong here in this amazing city, but they need to learn how to do it safely."

The owner of POW! Gym Chicago says she hopes the classes give people confidence to fight back if they find themselves in a similar, scary situation.

"As a woman living in Chicago on her own, it’s incredibly inspiring," said Paige Petry, who attended Monday’s self-defense class.  

Like other community members who live and work in the West Loop, Petry spent her evening learning the new skillset.

"When you hear multiple incidents happening in an area you’re in every single day, it kind of makes you re-think how cautious you actually need to be day-to-day."


There are still a few classes left in the free series, but they are filling up fast. Pre-registration is required. Visit to sign up.

Announced Monday, the West Loop Community Organization, along with the Chicago Police Department, will host "Street Safety" – a one-hour crime prevention presentation. It is set for Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Chicago Public Library’s West Loop Branch.

"Watch out for your neighbor, pay attention and just be smart about your surroundings," said Julie Darling with the West Loop Community Organization.