"A community of fighter women" begins in Aspen

Feb 24, 2016


Community members learn fighting skills at a new women's self defense class taught at the Aspen Club and Spa
Credit Alycin Bektesh / Aspen Public Radio

A women’s self defense class just launched in Aspen, teaching kicks, holds, grabs, and how it feels to connect a solid punch.


Attendees of the Tuesday night course at the Aspen Club and Spa aren’t necessarily preparing for a fight. Getting together and learning self defense techniques can be empowering, and gives the group a sense of pride knowing they are strong enough to defend themselves. Instructor Arielle VanderSchuit’s training in boxing, mixed martial arts and jiu jitsu might be intimidating, but she has a hearty laugh and aims to create a supportive atmosphere for the women in her class.

“I want to create a community of fighter women. These empowered women and teens, just so that they feel supported by one another. I want us to get together and create that kind of community.”

While the Roaring Fork Valley has a reputation for being relatively low on crime, public records show that more than 60 sexual assaults are reported each year. VanderSchuit points out that because more than 80 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, living in a small town doesn't in itself mean you are safe.


“No matter where you are, sexual assault and sexual harassment happens and it happens mainly because the statistics prove that it’s most common with the people you know. So, it’s not like we are in a big city where random people will assault you or harass you. It’s friends family neighbors - it’s poignant anywhere”

The one hour weekly class covers tips like tucking your chin to protect your throat and kicking the knees of the assailant backwards.

The class is open to the public and club members. The environment is playful despite its subject matter. The women pair up and practice the maneuver of hip thrusting the would-be attacker. It could make a 100-pound-woman throw a guy twice her weight.

While it also serves as a workout class - the participants definitely work up a sweat- VanderSchuit stresses that all fitness levels are appropriate for the class because the main objective is the personal growth that comes with learning self defense.


A photo posted by Arielle VanderSchuit (@strikinglyfitpt) on

Dec 22, 2015 at 8:15pm PST

Instructor Arielle VanderSchuit is a trained boxer and MMA Fighter.

“It doesn't matter what you look like on the outside you are so capable of so many things with the body that you have.”

And her students say connecting a punch just feels GOOD.

“Women aren’t used to punching and hitting and wrestling and all of that and it’s actually really really fun. There's a reason all of our guy friends and brothers always do it and we just didn't get taught what we are doing”

Didn’t get taught, until now.