Beth Alden of Kickstart Fitness shared some great self-defence tips at an empowering women event March 6 including firmly carrying your keys in your hand when walking to your car. The self-defence instructor encourages everyone to learn how to protect their personal space and avoid a violent situation.

THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT: Learn how to protect yourself

Parksville Qualicum Beach fitness facility owner helps women combat assault with protection tactics

The owner of Kickstart Fitness is urging all women to make changes in their lives to save themselves from becoming victims of assault.

Beth Alden is well known for helping people with struggles.

As a personal trainer, she has transformed many lives with her approach to physical fitness.

At her training facility on Springhill Road in Parksville she’s helped a lot of people lose weight and get their lives back on track, but she also teaches self preservation.

During an event aimed at empowering women held March 6 at her gym, Alden shared some of her personal challenges including her journey that led her to becoming a certified self defense instructor.

Alden began the conversation by admitting she was a victim of rape when she was just 16 years old telling the audience that after a lot of counseling she was able to not only get past the experience, but use it to help save other women from becoming a rape statistic.

Jaws in the audience dropped when Alden listed several alarming statistics surrounding sexual assaults.

Some of the data she gathered indicated one in four North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime.

“If you look at the stats where six out of 100 sexual assaults are reported to the police that means 262,400 cases of sexual assault were not reported. That is a number way too high. We need to start making a change now,” she said.

Alden emphasized that women should not be afraid to talk about their assaults or hide because of embarrassment.

“We need to stand up and fight for our dignity and take a stand on rape. Don’t be afraid to tell your story because you are the victim. Be proud of who you are and realize it was not your fault and if you ever get into a situation again fight like you have never fought before.”

Alden encourages all women to learn some self- defence moves to prevent them from becoming an easy target and she said you should not let your guard down no matter where you are.

“We have a false sense of security living in a small town. Parksville Qualicum Beach is like any other town . . . Toronto, Vancouver, L.A. We have problems just like any other big city and self defense is so crucial.”

She said there are no magic or secret moves surrounding self-defence when it comes to your safety.

“It is not like a Jujitsu or a Kung Fu move. It boils down to keeping things simple and similar. When I teach a self-defence class, I teach four different real easy moves. When I got certified, the biggest lesson I learned was that biting can be your best defence. When in doubt, bite whatever you can get your teeth on. Be ruthless,” she exclaimed.

Alden became a certified self-defence instructor one year ago and she said it was an intense and brutal process that challenged her fight or flight response and transformed the way she sees the world around her.

“Now when I am walking I look all around constantly. I visualize what I am going to do when I get attacked.”

She said you have to do whatever it takes to stay safe and that includes simply changing the way you walk down a sidewalk.

“To be safe you need to not act like a victim.  You need to walk and be assertive. Don’t have your head down … be aware of what’s around you. Be conscious of your surroundings,” she emphasized.

She agreed that there are occasions when people can become victims just by fluke, but in most cases predators are more likely stalking you.

“Victims are very seldom picked by mistake. Criminals have certain criteria when it comes to choosing who will be an easy target. Bad guys are looking for people who are vulnerable,” she explained.

Alden said when you are out and about you want to walk assertively and with purpose.

“If you walk with your head down not paying attention you are becoming a victim.”

She also had some advice for runners who have both ear buds in.

“You should just have one ear bud in when you run. So many times I will walk up to someone with both ear buds in and tap them and they jump and I think ‘what are you doing?’ because in that split second I could have killed them.”

She said you need to be aware of your surroundings and know where your next escape route is.

“Always carry your keys in your hand when walking to your car and always look in your car before you get in.”

Kickstart Fitness is located at 1530 Springhill Road. For more information, call 250-586-2011.

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