Native Chicagoan Irene Michaels has worn many hats during her seven-plus decades. Her ventures range from flipping buildings as a contractor to dabbling in show biz, including a recurring role on General Hospital in the early ’80s and a part in the 1988 horror-comedy cult classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Recent endeavors include running her own luxury lifestyle website, I on the Scene; starting her own skin care line; and composing and singing for her own pop band, Our House. She lives in Lake Point Tower with two cats and a dog. (Her husband has his own place nearby. “We got married late in life and are very stuck in our ways,” Michaels says.) She fell in love with horses as a girl, riding ponies at Kiddieland, and has owned five steeds over the years. She credits riding with helping maintain her overall fitness.
What’s your workout routine like?
“I weight-train three days a week. If you work hard at it, you get a pop [in muscle definition] here and there, which is hard to do at my age. I’ve always loved dancing, and I’m still kicking, just not as high. I take ballet classes at Ruth Page. On Sundays, I ride my horse at the Wayne Equestrian Center in Elgin. I’ve been riding since I was 11, which really takes care of my legs.”
You’ve adopted boxing as well?
“I don’t like the treadmill — too boring. But I fell in love with boxing right away. It’s like dancing: The music is playing and you’re working with your hands. It takes an awful lot of coordination. It’s also very good for the brain.”
Is it true you walk your cats?
“I put a harness on the adult one, Felix, and he moseys along with me. There’s a park across from me called Olive Park, just adjacent to Navy Pier. I carry him there, and then we walk. I think it’s kind of hilarious that he does it.”
Have you ever been in a riding accident?
“I’ve broken a few bones in my day. About 10 years ago, I fractured my femur in six places, along with my wrist. It took me a year of solid therapy, but I got back on. I think being in pretty good shape was very helpful to my recovery. One of my philosophies in life: It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle it.”