Florida woman who fought off attacker partners with gym for free self-defense classes

Free self-defense classes will be offered in Orlando on March 21

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – A Tampa woman who fought of an attacker at her apartment’s gym is now set to partner with YouFit Gyms to host free self-defense classes, according to WFTS.

Video shows the woman — identified as 24-year-old Nashali Alma — as she was working out at her apartment complex’s gym. In the video, Alma is seen walking over to the door to let a man inside.

“My thought process was it was just another dude coming in to work out, so I didn’t think of anything like that,” Alma later said.

However, the man — later identified as 25-year-old Xavier Thomas-Jones — can be seen in the video approaching Alma and trying to grab her.

Xavier Thomas-Jones, 25, faces charges of sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping. (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

However, Alma was able to fight him off, throwing punches and at one point hitting him in the face with her cell phone, deputies said.

[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]

“As soon as he was approaching me, I pushed him,” Alma later recounted. “I said, ‘Bro, what the f*** are you doing? Get away from me. Stop trying to touch me.’”

According to the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office, Thomas-Jones eventually gave up the fight, and Alma was able to get away.

Deputies caught Thomas-Jones and brought him into custody shortly after the encounter, and he has since been charged with sexual battery and kidnapping, court records show.

According to WFTS, Alma is partnering with YouFit Gyms to help teach other women how to defend themselves in similar situations.

Tyler Zollinger, an instructor for one of these classes in Orlando on Tuesday, told News 6 that the statewide effort was sparked by Alma’s actions in the attack.

“Ever since then, YouFit Gyms reached out to me, asking me as a self-defense instructor if I would help out YouFit with teaching some self-defense classes...” he said. “At first, we were just gonna do an hour class, make it really simple, but we really believe that we can get the word out to the community.”

Zollinger said the class isn’t just aimed at learning how to defend yourself, but how to get out of dangerous situations.

In the event that you’re attacked, Zollinger said, yelling out and being loud can help ward off the attacker.

“We either go into a fight-or-flight situation, but there’s a third one: we actually freeze, and a lot of times, most people freeze.” Zollinger said. “They don’t want to fight back. They don’t want to run. They don’t know what to do. And Nashali? She fought. She fought for her life, and she made noise.”

Zollinger added that the class will offer information on how to use practical self-defense techniques like punches, kicks and palm strikes, too.

The classes will be held at YouFit Gym, located at 2847 S. Orange Ave. The one-hour classes will begin at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

For more information on locations and times of self-defense classes, click here.

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Author:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.