Nashali Alma has been a YouFit Gyms member for about a year, but on a recent Sunday night she decided to grab a quick workout at the gym in her Tampa, Florida apartment complex. It was a quiet evening and she was the only one there, until she heard a knock on the glass door. She looked up to find a man she’d seen around before and assumed he was a resident. She let him in, thinking “I’ve forgotten my fob before and other people have always opened the door for me.”
But as she lifted weights, the man inched closer and closer to her side of the gym. “At first I didn’t notice,” Alma explained. “I was in the zone and didn’t pay too much mind. But when I finished my workout and went to grab my phone, he was coming right at me.” He tried to grab her waist. She recoiled and shouted. “What are you doing?” He didn’t respond. She quickly moved to the other side of the gym and he pursued her. That’s when she tried to call 9-1-1 on her cell phone. “Don’t do that,” he warned. “Don’t call nobody.” He continued lunging for her and she realized she’d need to fight him off. Alma’s instincts kicked in. “I punched him with my left hand,” she said. “We ended up on the floor and he was trying to get on top of me. I wiggled away. He tried to put me in a choke hold and I wiggled out of that too. Finally I grabbed his beard hair and he let me go.”
Alma ran out of the gym and started knocking on apartment doors, trying to get help. Finally, the third door opened and her neighbors let her in. They gave her a glass of water and called the police, offering comfort after the terrifying ordeal.
Police have since arrested the attacker but at the time, Alma says she wasn’t scared because of the adrenaline, which lasted for two full days. “Two days later I was at work, in the middle of putting blood into a disc, when I started crying,” Alma, who is a medical lab technician, explains. “One of my coworkers came over and helped me outside to get some fresh air. I went home and cried for five hours straight.” She took the next day for self care that included going for a long restorative walk outside, feeling safe knowing that her attacker was already behind bars.
Alma is a competitive bodybuilder who says she’s very proud of how she was able to keep her wits about her and offers three suggestions for others who find themselves in a similarly dangerous position:
1. Always be cautious of your surroundings.
2. Turn on the “Hey Siri call 911” function on your phone.
3. If you’re ever attacked, never give up. Keep fighting.
Self defense classes are also on Alma’s list, especially if YouFit offers them, she said. “YouFit has one of the most welcoming environments. Everyone is so helpful and nice!” she said. “I love the gym, the staff and equipment. I can do literally everything.” That’s important because Alma is working toward a bodybuilding event this summer where she’ll be a Wellness competitor. Her coach set up a routine using a mixture of free weights and machines, which are all available at YouFit.
Are you interested in self defense classes? Let us know by emailing us or mentioning it to the front desk of your YouFit location. If you or someone you know is attacked, call 9-1-1 immediately. The Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673). Report domestic abuse through National Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233). And contact the Loveisrespect hotline if you or someone you know is a victim of teen dating violence. Reach a love is respect advocate anytime by phone at 1-866-331-9474, by texting ‘loveis’ to 22522, or by chat online.