Two sessions of an Advanced Women’s Self-Defense Workshop will be held on Saturday, March 7, at the Gym on 5th. About 40 people attended the Intro to Women’s Self-Defense Workshop held in September 2019, pictured here. Previous experience is not necessary to attend the advanced workshop.

[Photo courtesy of Emily Klarer]

The mission of the Gym on 5th is “to foster a space where individuals can push past their preconceived mental and physical limits in a safe, encouraging community.” In short, the mission is one of individual empowerment with group support.

This weekend, the Gym on 5th is offering two opportunities for individuals to learn empowering skills in a group setting: an Advanced Women’s Self-Defense Workshop on Saturday, March 7, and a Basic Jiu-Jitsu Workshop on Sunday, March 8. The workshops are open to members and non-members alike. Attendees may register for either workshop at the Gym on 5th’s website,

Saturday’s event is for women and older girls only. There will be two sessions of the Advanced Women’s Self-Defense Workshop; the first will go from 10 a.m. until noon, and the second will run from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Gym on 5th ( 420 N. 500 West). While it is an “advanced” class, participants don’t need any previous training to attend.

The workshops will be taught by Miyo Strong and Chelsea Kilpack of Empower Self-Defense, a company based out of Salt Lake City.

The course description (posted on the Gym on 5th’s website) says that Strong is a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu, a mother of two daughters, and a passionate women’s empowerment advocate, and Kilpack holds a masters degree in Women’s Studies and sits on the board for the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA).

The cost per woman is $45, but daughters aged 12 to 18 years old may attend with mothers at no extra charge. However, attendees should be aware that the class entails a lot of physical activity, as well as intense subject matter.

“We will cover very adult topics relating to sexual violence and sexual assault and will be teaching how to respond in situations where your personal space is violated,” reads the course description.

Half of the proceeds from entry fees will go to the Moab nonprofit Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center.

Gym on 5th member Marcy Mason said she attended the first women’s self defense class with her daughter.

“The class was amazing, the instructors were knowledgeable and allowed us to be hands-on,” she said. “They helped my daughter come out of her shell, so to speak… She learned a ton, and we still practice and talk about this class all the time! We highly recommended all women and young teens attend.”

Sunday’s workshop on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is open to all genders; the minimum age is 7 years old and no experience is required.

The teachers, Jason South and Bentley Garner, are both black belts from Unified Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Salt Lake City.

“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ is a martial art based on grappling and ground fighting, focusing on the skill of controlling one’s opponent through techniques that force him or her to submit,” the course description reads, adding that participants should wear comfortable clothes and bring a water bottle.

Gym on 5th co-owner Casey Montandan said the workshops are a way to expand the mission of the gym to the wider community.

“We provide a safe and encouraging community in the gym,” he said. “We want that to expand to outside of the gym as well.”

Montandan said the Gym on 5th will continue to offer similar workshops if there is an interest, and may also offer classes on nutrition, strength training, mobility, and “other topics that foster a healthy lifestyle and community here in Moab.”

The Gym on 5th may be contacted by emailing

The author of this piece is a Gym on 5th member, but does not have financial ties to the gym. -ed.

What: Advanced Women’s Self-Defense Workshop

When: Saturday, March 7, 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m.

Where: 420 N. 500 West

Cost: $45 for adult women (daughters attend free)


What: Basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Workshop

When: Sunday, March 8, 10 a.m.-noon

Where: Grand County High School

Cost: $50 for gym members; $60 for non-members