Recent assaults on campus prompt local gym owner to offer new fitness class

By Cole Caviston, Staff Writer

For the first time, Wildcat Fitness will be holding a self-defense class for seven weeks and is open to both members and the public starting Oct. 6.

The class will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays, starting at 7 p.m. and ending after an hour and 20 minutes. T

he lessons will last up until Thanksgiving break, a deliberate choice made to keep the class learning consistent. 

Wildcat Fitness owner Ken Entz believes that the offer of a low-cost, training encompassed program can be beneficial — especially for female students, mothers, faculty and staff against on-campus violence.

“I’ve got two daughters, and I’ve already started them in this type of training,” Entz said. “And I’ll probably start my eldest in this class.”

Before this year, Wildcat Fitness had never held such a course — despite having an interest in doing so — because of a lack of space in its building.

This changed with the addition of a new, state-of-the-art classroom, which opened in January, that offers a wide space for a variety of exercise methods.

“Once we got our classroom built, there were a few different things we wanted to do besides our normal exercise classes,” Entz said.

Wildcat Fitness then contacted On-Site Family Martial Arts Center, which is based in Newington, and came to an agreement with owner Sensei Harry Charache about providing expert instructors for the course.

Each class is planned to begin with a 20-minute review of what was learned in the last session, followed by lessons in a new skill.

“The class is going to teach you blocking, how to defend yourself against somebody with a gun, a knife, somebody with sticks, or [a] pole or a bar,” Entz said. “It’ll show you how to defend yourself if somebody grabs you by the hair, if somebody puts you in a choke hold, if someone puts you in a bear hold and if someone knocks you to the ground.”

About 50 percent of Wildcat Fitness is comprised of UNH students, of whom Entz said are primarily interested in taking the class.

Entz admits that the main pull towards the class has been demographically one-sided, with women expressing the most interest.

“We want the guys to come in, too, but it seems that the girls are more interested in protecting themselves,” Entz said.

But Entz believes that the national attention given to assault on college campuses has raised awareness of the issue among college girls and made them considerate of learning how to defend themselves.

“As a dad, this is just something that is so important to me that these girls know what to do if they are in a situation where they’re not comfortable or they have no other option but to get out of it themselves,” Entz said.

There are 20 spots available and a third of the spots have been filled. Still, Entz is hopeful that, with a week and a half more to go before the start of the class, more people will come forward.

“If we receive more people, we’ll put them on a list, and see if they want a shorter, four week class with condensed lessons,” Entz said.

For members the admission cost is $129, while for non-members it is $149, which amounts to about $8 an hour. According to Entz, this is a preferable cost compared to the rates of hiring an individual instructor, but there is also the bonus of learning in an environment that encourages camaraderie among class participants.

“You get the support from the people who are with you,” Entz said.

“But you’ll have fun learning, you’ll walk out of here confident, you’ll be more aware of your surroundings, and you won’t feel like a victim anymore.”