I talk to a lot of women every day, and one of the most common reasons I hear for not taking a self-defense class is, "Oh, I'm in such terrible shape!" So...do you have to be in great shape to defend yourself from an attacker? Is being super-skinny and ultra-toned a requirement to be a badass babe? God, I hope not!
As I look through self-defense sites online, I see tons of photos of women in skimpy sports bras with the most incredibly ripped abs you could ever dream of. To those women, I say, "Good for you! That is totally rocking!" Those women clearly worked hard and put in a lot of effort, and they should be proud of themselves! But I'm going to let you in on a secret. I don't look like those women. And most of the women in my classes don't either.
Women come in all different sizes and shapes, and each and every one of them deserves to be safe from violence. And I'm here to tell you that no matter your size or shape, a good self-defense class will help you learn the tactics and techniques that will work best for your body. First of all, a really good class is going to teach you ways to minimize your risk of even being targeted by a predator to begin with!
When I teach a class, I do a fair amount of ground work. This basically means I straddle each student while they're on the ground (with their permission, and only if they're okay with it!) and I make sure they're able to toss me off successfully. After about a dozen rounds, I am winded to the point I have to stop and catch my breath. And that's kind of embarrassing because I'm thinking, "I'm doing all this physical stuff and I should be in good shape!" But I'm going to be totally honest with you. My favorite food on Earth is frosting, and I am NOT a morning person, and by the time I get home at night I just don't feel like working out.
But the good news is - you don't have to be in awesome shape to fight back against an attacker! The number one thing you have going for you is mindset: decide here and now that if someone attacks you, you ARE going to fight back. It doesn't matter right now if you know exactly what that fight is going to look like, just promise yourself that you will fight back. Make the decision right now that you will damage this person who is trying to keep you from getting home safely to your loved ones.
Do I care if you're skinny, if your arms are ripped, if you can run a mile? No. But I do want you to be healthy, and I want you to feel confident in your ability to defend yourself. And while one is not required for the other, as long as you're thinking about your safety you may as well think about your health as well. I am not a fitness expert, but I do know that walking is one of the best things you can do for your body! What if you can only walk to the end of the sidewalk? Then walk to the end of the sidewalk! Tomorrow add one or two extra steps.
When you're out walking, that is a great time to be practicing that situational awareness! Know where you are and where you're going. If you wear headphones, only wear them in one ear so you can hear if someone approaches you. Try to stay in more populated areas. Make sure you have a cell phone and a little bit of cash with you. If someone approaches you, remember your "universal stop sign". Hands up and slightly out in front of you, feet shoulder-width apart for balance. Tell them "stop" in a clear, firm voice. If they ignore this and continue to approach you, this is your signal that you may need to defend yourself physically.
How about when you're at home? If you're watching TV or reading a book, stop at every commercial break or chapter break and do ten squats, ten push-ups, and ten sit-ups. After two hours of recreation, you've gotten in a good number of reps! Only able to do five reps? Only one? Then do that! You will get better at it!
Realistically, the stronger and healthier you feel, the more confident you will be in your ability to defend yourself. But if you're in lousy shape, you absolutely can still defend yourself, and you absolutely can take a self-defense class! Get your gal pals together and get something scheduled today! Who knows, it just may inspire you to start a fitness routine!