Carole’s Fitness has already established a name for itself when it comes to grueling yet rewarding exercise programs. Now, it’s hoping to build a reputation as a center that offers a topnotch self-defense program for women.
Led by longtime martial arts instructor Jim Henderson, the four-week series of 30-minute street-based classes will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesdays, March 24, through April 14 at 5661 Madison Ave.
The program will focus on breaking choke holds and wrist grabs while also addressing punches, kicks, eye rakes, thumb gouges to the eyes and how to use your knees, elbows and fingernails.
“Some women may cringe at the thought of gouging their thumbs into someone’s eyes, but I tell my students that in a street fight situation, the first rule is to cheat; the second rule is that there are no rules,” said Henderson, a third-degree black belt and a quality assurance representative for Eli Lilly and Co. “When a woman is being attacked, she should utilize whatever violence is humanly possible to defend herself.
“I have a passion to help women defend themselves. I guess that’s because I am the father of two girls.”
Although the series will feature only two hours of instruction, Henderson said that is more than enough training for a woman to be properly prepared to ward off an attacker. And being a four-part program, key strategies can be re-emphasized during each class.
Besides a woman’s knowledge of self-defense, Henderson said it is of the utmost importance that she is always aware of her surroundings. “I call this situational awareness.”
Many attackers are hoping for an element of surprise when accosting a woman, but if that element is taken away, the odds of being assaulted are greatly lowered.
“If you sense that you are being followed, turn around, confront the guy and ask why he is following you. If you are in a store, seek out a cashier for help,” he said. “Always trust your sixth sense.”
In addition to the self-defense program, which costs $25 and can be registered for by calling 788-8377, the fitness center offers six-week exercise classes at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels for women and men 50 and older.
Led by Carole Pefley, who has owned the business for about three years, the classes focus on cardiovascular and abdominal work, weight training and stretching. Twenty seconds of intense exercise is followed by 10 seconds of rest, and this procedure is repeated 24 times during a workout.
“It’s a difficult routine, and each person works at their own level,” said Pefley, who leads 11 classes a week. The cost is $35 for the first two levels, $40 for the advanced one.
A portion of the center is based in her family room; the other part is housed in her exercise studio, which is adorned with photography and artwork by her students.
Pefley has some dedicated students, and one has been there since the start. “She’s amazing; she puts her heart into what she does. My students don’t give up; they give it their all. They come in and work hard, build on their gains and become the best they can be. I don’t believe that they can be better than everyone else, but I do believe that they can be better than they ever thought they would be.”
And those efforts pay handsome dividends. Pefley says her students – ranging from 50 to 86 years old – enjoy increased energy levels, a better immune system, a stronger heart and lungs and a greater sense of well-being.
“Fitness is a journey; it’s not something you do and quit. You have to make it a part of your life.”
A retired resume writer who likes to garden, Pefley embarked upon her fitness career about 20 years ago when taking karate lessons. She shared that her inspiration came from Chuck Norris. From there her interest in exercise escalated and she received training to instruct those over 50. She has instructed at the Perry Senior Citizens Center, Robin Run Village and Older Adult Service and Information Systems, where she can still be found leading classes.
A second-degree black belt, Pefley emphasizes that people won’t always lose weight just by exercising; however, they should notice a more toned body. “You can’t always be eating pie and processed and fried foods. The old saying ‘You are what you eat’ is true.”
If she splurges, it’s done at Vino Villa in Greenwood, where she can enjoy good wine, cheese and food.
Pefley used to train under Henderson, and they recently ran into each other at a Starbucks. Out of their encounter came the idea to offer the self-defense program.
In fact, Pefley is again receiving instruction from him. “It was one of the most exciting days for me in a long time when I ran into Jim,” she said.