Steamboat martial arts instructor to launch cardio self-defense class |

Steamboat martial arts instructor to launch cardio self-defense class

Nicole Inglis

Alicia Wright is launching a new cardio self defense course for women that begins Monday.

— Alicia Wright remembers the day clearly. She was 21 years old and traveling through Guatemala with friends. She had thought about the dangers, but when it happened, she was unprepared.

"I was crawling up these rocks away from the beach, and this guy pulled me over on top of him," she said.

She used her voice to tell him "No," and the obviously inebriated man let her go.

But later the same night, it happened again when a man grabbed her from behind on a dark street.

"I didn't know what to do," she said. "I had just this little bit of training, and I didn't know what to do. I thought, 'I can't believe this is happening to me.'"

That time, another person came to her rescue.

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"It was pretty traumatic," Wright said.

That was 14 years ago. When Wright returned to Steamboat Springs, she took up tae kwon do, once a childhood hobby, and stuck with the practice until she reached her second-degree black belt.

She has been teaching at the Steamboat Springs Martial Arts Club for about 10 years and has devised a new fitness class that launches Monday.

The class, called Cardio Defense, will combine real-life tactical skills and dynamic movement that aims to empower women to find their inner strength.

Classes are $12 for drop-ins or $50 for five classes and take place from noon to 1 p.m. Mondays and from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Fridays at Elevation Dance Studio. There also will be classes from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays at Forever Fit.

"I know there are other women out there in similar situations," Wright said. "And it's not a pretty place to be."

She said the class would incorporate the tradition of marital arts — the discipline, focus and intensity — with practical skills that women can use in real-life situations.

Although Wright will teach strikes and blocks, she said there are many aspects of self-defense that are much more subtle, such as stature and body language.

"It's finding the power within myself to say, 'I'm going to make it through this,'" she said. "You don't want to rush somebody. It's how to avoid. And if you do (get attacked), how are you going to find your authentic voice that asks, 'What are you doing, what's going on?'"

One of Wright's students, Susanmarie Oddo, knows this lesson all to well. Oddo has been taking boxing classes from Wright for three years and had Wright train her before she traveled abroad in Italy.

While overseas, a beggar approached her at a quick pace and Oddo, with the steadfast confidence instilled in her from her training, held strong.

"Just through physical body language and stance, he could see that wasn't a good idea," Oddo said. "Sometimes just having that sense of confidence lets people know you're not going to be a victim."

Oddo said Wright is a challenging instructor, but taking the classes has improved her health overall.

"I found a real connection with her classes," Oddo said. "I didn't know it before, but I really enjoy the sport of (martial arts). It's great for people like me who get bored easily. There's only so long I can be on a treadmill."

She said she hopes to be able to take Wright's new Cardio Defense class if it fits into her schedule because, as she's learned, the self-defense skills are irreplaceable.

And so is Wright's penchant for situational awareness that teaches one to be consciousness of surroundings — threatening or not — whether on the bike path or out at night.

"I think it's essential," Oddo said. "I think most women think they'll never need those skills because we live in Steamboat. But you do."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

Summer class schedule


Noon to 1 p.m. at Elevation Dance Studio, 326 Oak St.

6:30 to 8 p.m. at Forever Fit, 345 Lincoln Ave.


6:30 to 8 p.m. at Forever Fit


8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at Elevation Dance Studio


10 to 11:30 a.m. at Forever Fit.

Classes are $12 for a drop-in and $50 for five. For more information, call 970-846-9997.

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