Curious about getting fit and staying safe? A self-defense course is the perfect fit. Colleges and police departments host free courses. You can also try SHIELD Women’s Self Defense, IMPACT Boston, and the R.A.D. Systems of Self-Defense.
5 Reasons to Take Self-Defense
You'll learn more about staying safe than just moves.
Students are taught that physical self-defense techniques are a last resort. More important, the classes provide lessons in avoiding potentially dangerous situations. You’ll practice your loudest get-away-from-me yell, for example, and learn to be more aware of your surroundings and issues that might arise when you’re out and about on your own.
RELATED: 6 Multitasking Workouts To Try
You'll feel in control.
Learning how to defend yourself can help give you the same “I’ve got this” feeling you get from rocking a work presentation or hitting your goal weight. “People say they leave class feeling more confident,” says Jocelyn Hollander, PhD, a sociology professor at the University of Oregon who researches women’s self-defense training. “You discover that you’re potentially really powerful—and that your body can do amazing things.”
You'll work your abs.
Your power comes from the core, says Damian Ross, founder and master instructor of The Self Defense Company, and the more oomph you put into the moves, the stronger it becomes. You could also sneak in some cardio: With Ross’s program, students follow a high-intensity interval training method, going all out for 10 to 30 seconds, taking a break for a minute or two, and then repeating as many times as possible.
You'll sharpen your instincts.
Want speedier reactions? “We train the brain so that if you’re feeling threatened or someone puts a hand on you, your first response will be to throw a strike,” says Gabrielle Rubin, founder and instructor at Female Awareness Self Defense in New York City. It’s a good idea to practice, she adds: The repetition can improve your muscle memory so you’re always ready to bust a move.
You'll gain confidence.
We hope you never have to use these skills, but if you do, they could save your life. One study in the journal Violence Against Women found that college females were less than half as likely to report being sexually assaulted after taking a 10-week class. Experts say the trained women feel better able to fend off attackers and less likely to find themselves in a conflict (they could be more alert to the warning signs).
Pro tip: Let out a big, loud exhale when you punch or kick. This may help tighten your abs, putting extra force behind the move, says Jessica Tierney, executive director of the American Women’s Self Defense Association.
RELATED: Choose The Right Martial Art For You