Rise of the Powerhouse Girl

A chance encounter leads to a business that seeks to empower girls and women.

by Jennifer Riis-Poulsen • More.com Member { View Profile }

It was a beautiful summer's morning in 2011 when I arrived early to the first Jazzercise class of the day, ready to rock my stuff. As I approached the large, clear windows, I could see one of the Jazzercise instructors in a back room, alone, watching a dance routine she was going to teach us that day. Her back was to the studio, and I noticed she had headphones in her ears.

I waited just a couple of minutes before putting my hand on the door. To my surprise the door was unlocked. I proceeded to enter, and walked through the Jazzercise Studio. I stood behind the Instructor and said, “Good morning!” The very bubbly, energetic Jazzercise instructor turned to me, and with a big smile said, “Good morning, Jennie!” Without me knowing it, this was about to be the start of Powerhouse Self-Defense.

I explained to the Jazzercise instructor just how dangerous it was to leave the door unlocked with her back to the studio and headphones in her ears. She was totally unaware of her surroundings. As a second-degree black belt in martial arts and self-defense, I felt it was my duty to teach some self-defense classes to the Jazzercise instructors and their clients.

By August 2011, more and more people wanted to experience my self-defense workshops. So I decided to make my work official and established Roswell Self-Defense for Ladies. Roswell being the city in which I live, so it made sense. I was teaching locals to the Roswell area. About a month after teaching under the name of Roswell Self-Defense for Ladies, I received call after call asking if I only taught in Roswell. I sounded like a broken record for weeks, having to say, “No! I will bring my program to you, wherever you live. I live in Roswell, and so that was the first name that came to mind when giving a name to my company.” So, in November 2011, my Company became Powerhouse Self-Defense.

Since November 2011, Powerhouse Self-Defense has begun to empower and educate hundreds of girls and women across the state and country. Of these hundreds of women and girls, the Girl Scouts of USA have consistently used the Powerhouse Self-Defense Program as their number one source for education on awareness and self-defense techniques.

As a result of the partnership with Powerhouse Self-Defense, I was asked to participate in the Girl Scouts National Centennial Camporee held this year, June 2012, in Savannah, Georgia. This was a huge honor for my company, considering we were one of six chosen out of hundreds to participate in the camporee. The Powerhouse self-defense curriculum coincides with the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character. The workshops also focus on building self-esteem and confidence, which is also a big concept in Girl Scouting.

The camporee brought girl scouts from 37 states and three countries to Savannah, Georgia, and resulted in over 625 girls and troop Leaders being empowered and educated in awareness and self-defense. This was an awesome, yet humbling experience for me, to watch these females come into the workshops in quiet anticipation and leave feeling empowered. Because the Powerhouse Self-Defense workshops were such a huge success, several troop leaders have requested the presence of powerhouse in their states. I am very excited to announce that I am expanding Powerhouse Self-Defense into San Antonio, Texas, with the launch date being Sunday, November 4.

As I come upon the first year anniversary of Powerhouse Self-Defense, I reflect back on the past year. I remember researching the statistics on sexual assault against females and being shocked by what I saw. I also remember saying to both myself and my close friends: “I want to make a difference. I have the expertise to do reduce these statistics by making females more aware of their surroundings and empowering them through my self-defense and empowerment workshops.” This has become my mission.

This past year has, however, been very rough for me personally. Living on alimony, I have used much of this money on building up Powerhouse Self-Defense. As a result, I have been in default of my rent on numerous occasions, had electricity, gas and phone cutoff. However, I believe in my mission. I have taken a huge leap of faith in myself, and my work has become my passion.

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