As personal trainers, Nate Taylor and Alex Michael consider it their duty to help their clients look and feel their best. But, after noticing a disturbing trend taking place outside of the gym and out of the realm of their control, the pair decided to take it upon themselves to help women throughout the community feel safer in their day-to-day lives through the Women’s Self-Defense Workshop and Bootcamp.
The five-week program is taught at Venture Fitness in Turlock, with both Taylor and Michael providing useful tips and techniques that women can use in order to feel protected. From learning how to punch to practicing where to hit an assailant, the course is all about helping women become independent when it comes to self-defense.
“I’m always seeing stories about women feeling vulnerable or being attacked,” said Taylor, recalling a story he saw on Facebook recently about a woman being stalked at Vintage Fair Mall in Modesto. “It’s always on the news, and violence is so high that we thought, ‘Why not teach these ladies how to defend themselves so that they can feel safe walking, and walk in peace rather than fear?’”
Taylor and Michael are well-equipped for preparing women to defend themselves in the event of an attack. Taylor has studied martial arts since 1989 and holds multiple black belts, while Michael is an avid boxer.
“Some people say, ‘Oh, I’m a woman. I can’t fight off a man,’” said Taylor. “We train them how to use their body as a weapon while striking the vital points of a body – the nose, groin, eyes. Anything that will drop someone and give her enough time to get away safely.”
While the expected punching bags and boxing gloves are heavily-used throughout the program, the workshop also incorporates fitness into each class. For example, participants may be practicing a punch on the bag one minute, then doing ladder drills and abdominal work the next.
“We wanted to make sure to incorporate some fitness into it too, because if someone grabs you or you’re in a wrestling match with somebody, you don’t want to be out of breath and vulnerable in that way as well,” said Michael.
Leticia Christen, a mother of two, said she decided to take the course so that she could learn how to defend herself.
“So far, I’ve learned the correct way to position myself and to have not just balance, but leverage,” said Christen.
It’s those types of techniques that will not only help women feel safer when walking alone, but more confident, said Taylor.
“The main things they’ll be learning are self-confidence, discipline and awareness,” he said. “You should always be able to walk around without fear. This is the country of freedom.”
Taylor Jordao and Cindy Jordao, a mother-daughter duo, joined the program in anticipation of Taylor Jordao’s upcoming departure for college. Cindy Jordao wanted her daughter to learn how to protect herself while away, she said, and decided to participate in the bootcamp as well.
“I’ve never hit anyone, so just knowing how to do that now is great,” said Taylor Jordao.
The Jordaos are a classic example of how the bootcamp can be beneficial to women of all ages, said Taylor, while also providing a place for family members to spend time with one another.
“You see, we have a mother and daughter here bonding,” he said. “They may be busy separately, but this lets them come together and do something, and that’s the most important part – being with your family and enjoying something.”
Taylor and Michael’s Women’s Self-Defense Workshop and Bootcamp held its first class Thursday, and classes will continue to be held every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. over the course of the next five weeks. Multiple classes can be paid for up front, and drop-ins for individual classes are accepted as well. Classes are held at Venture Fitness in Turlock, 109 S. Center St. For more information, call 209-918-8348.