It’s time to expand your horizons. Gyms are no longer just a place where members can break a sweat and get in shape. Gyms can also provide a venue for enhancing lives overall.

This is precisely what Sport&Health is striving to do at its Tysons Corner, Virginia, location. Recently the club began offering self-defense workshops for women in the area. Certified black belts Walter Ambrose and his wife Karen instruct the class. After practicing martial arts for over 20 years, they both wanted to find a way to give back to the community.

“When you get certified you are required to look inside of yourself and see what is one thing you can do to contribute back to your community and society at large,” said Ambrose. “For me, it was giving something to women because they are not taught to fight. We thought this would be something they could use to counteract the aggressive aspect of males.”

Receiving a black belt can take over three years, so Ambrose and his wife developed an expedited program that teaches women the basic principles of self-defense. They began teaching the course at a local rec center, but recently expanded their reach to other gyms in the area, including Sport&Health.

The class meets every Saturday for one hour over six weeks. The first three classes highlight the necessary principles of self-defense. “The first and most important principle is awareness — knowing your surroundings and what to look for so you can see trouble before it happens,” said Ambrose. “The second principle is the techniques and tools you have to employ if there is trouble. The final principle is how to escape and get help.”

The next phase of class includes putting these principles to the test. “They have been given all the tools and awareness, now they are put through scenarios to see how they respond,” he added. “We give them a test to see what their level of awareness is.”

The workshop has been so popular, even non-members participate and some travel far and wide in order to partake. According to Ambrose, one woman in their current workshop drives to Tysons from Washington D.C. every Saturday for the class.

“If it is advertised and promoted in the right way you will get a lot of your current members, but there are also women who will come from somewhere else,” said Ambrose. “So you will get people who have never come to your facility before and you can sign them up for membership.”

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Story Credit: Emily Harbourne of Club Solutions Magazine.


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