When a mother and her two daughters walked by the big windows of the Jazzercise building after lunch, they stopped in their tracks and did a double take - all of them. What they saw was a large room full of a dozen women yelling, kicking and punching bags - definitely not what you would expect to witness mid-afternoon on Woodstock Road in Roswell.
The unusual sight that has local women - and passersby - buzzing is Roswell’s newest women’s self defense class taught by second-degree black belt Jennifer Riis-Poulsen. Needless to say, the family of women didn’t get away without a greeting and an informational flyer about the class.
It’s easy to see why the women were so surprised by what they were seeing; at first glance, Riis-Poulsen is as unimposing a figure as they come. Petite with a friendly smile and a bounce in her step, she doesn’t look like someone who could take a full-grown man down in mere seconds.
But she can. Oh, and she has, actually.
She recalled a story during class about once accidentally bringing a 6 foot 5 inch man to his knees simply because he seemed ominous as he walked toward her just outside of a self-defense expo. The story evoked a laugh from the class. But Riis-Poulsen raised a finger and shook it with her warning:
“Be careful, ladies! Know how to judge whether or not someone is an actual threat, because you could end up assaulting someone just trying to say hello!”
There were lots of laughs along the way as Riis-Poulsen eased the students into each new move. She walked around, making sure to answer any questions the students might have about what to do. Before the class was over, the women had learned multiple techniques to thwart an attacker and escape unharmed. The class also a gave students a surprisingly good workout and encouraged a sense of camaraderie among strangers as women were paired together, helping each other send strong kicks, practice loud yells and improve techniques.
“All the ladies enjoyed it and most definitely left feeling more confident in being able to protect themselves,” says Riis-Poulsen.
Inside the walls of this class, Riis-Poulsen makes it clear that traditional etiquette and manners don’t exist. Kicking, screaming and pushing are all highly encouraged as a means of protection against an attacker. Class participants not only get cheers when they do something correctly, they get a sense of empowerment from knowing they can take care of themselves should someone ever threaten them.
The Roswell Women's Self-Defense class is offered on multiple days to accommodate different schedules: Mondays at 12 p.m., Thursdays at 7:15 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Classes take place in the Roswell Jazzercise Center located at 4651 Woodstock Road. Each class is $15 per person for 90 minutes. If you’re interested in taking the Roswell Self-Defense for Ladies class, contact Jennifer Riis-Poulsen at 678-925-1553 or email@example.com.