Fit Female class teaches self-defense skills

New Trier offers two Kinetic Wellness classes – Fit Female and Yoga/Self-Defense – that incorporate self- defense into the curriculum to give students tools in order to prevent sexual assault.
Fit Female emphasizes the importance of students knowing self defense, and the class works on taking measures to prevent sexual assault to give students the tools they need to protect themselves in dangerous situations.
Fit Female teacher Kathryn Kalnes said, “In the self defense unit, it’s not just about how to get out of holds and things like that, but really 90% of self defense is about awareness and avoidance.”
Yoga and Self Defense teacher, Lawrence Stoegbauer, also focuses on knowing your surroundings.
“We talk about awareness, and how people can be predators so that if you know what they [the predators] are thinking, you can stay out of the situation,” said Stoegbauer.
Junior Jules Brown takes Yoga and Self Defense this year. She said outside of self defense moves, the class talks about how to be safe when walking alone at night. “We talk about what choices we have instead of attacking someone such as running or calling for help.”
Kalnes said, “You always hear that we should just be teaching people to not assault, to stop raping, and to stop asking for sexual pictures. I’m hoping that is being done in different sectors, but I am in front of my classes of female students, and we live in this world where we have to be aware, and we have to have this in the back of our minds.”
Kalnes emphasized she doesn’t want students to be afraid, just aware of the current climate.
“I tell them that it’s not about scaring you into never leaving your house, or never going to a party, but you have to think of these things. You can’t just walk out of your house without the thought that someone has to know where you are. It’s the world we live in,” said Kalnes.
Fit Female student, junior Chloe Shapiro, said that in Fit Female, they learn self defense moves in order to prepare students for the world beyond high school.
Shapiro said, “We also talked about sexual assault on college campuses and about how many of the cases go unreported. This unit has opened my eyes to the real world.”
Junior Bujin Gandelger added that since sexual assault can happen to anybody, regardless of gender. Students in fit female learn the importance of awareness when in public. Stoegbauer agreed that sexual assault occurs regardless of gender.
“We teach boys and girls self defense, and in doing so, you are not only helping individuals understand, and protect themselves but stay out of situations.
Stoegbauer teaches his self defense classes what sexual assault is, and explains what is right and wrong.
“I explain to them that sexual assault can just be an inappropriate touch. I also think it’s important to know that it’s never [the victim’s] fault. It doesn’t mean you’re lesser, it doesn’t mean you’re weaker, doesn’t mean you deserve it. That way a person can move on from that and feel stronger,” said Stoegbauer.
Kalnes also emphasizes the fact that it is never the victim’s fault in her Fit Female classes.
“I really want my students to come away knowing that the assault was not their fault.”
Kalnes wants her students to walk away with not just knowledge about self defense, but also with the ability to seek help from a trusted adult or a friend if something does happen.
“We are going to talk about it as much as we can to prevent it, but if it happens, it is not in your control, it’s not your fault, and we will support you here at New Trier.”