Jennifer Cassetta, MS, CN, CHC
Martial Arts, Stilettos and My Advice to Women in Sports
When asked to write this article I have to admit, I’ve never really thought of being a woman in the fitness industry and how that was different or unique. It’s all I’ve ever known. I immediately looked back on my career and started looking for the disadvantages I had to overcome as a female. But instead, I found it as my greatest gift.
I was never a talented athlete when I was young. My love of fitness was sparked when I began training in a Korean-style martial art called HapKiDo in my early twenties.
Immediately, I started to notice the physical benefits of training in self-defense. The conditioning gave me a leaner body. But what took me longer to notice were the emotional benefits that far outweigh the physical ones.
As I took on more responsibility at the dojang (training studio) and taught more and more classes from four year olds to seventy year olds, my confidence and communication skills were being sharpened and polished every day.
Physiology is 55% of communication and tonality is 38% (the remaining 7% is vocabulary). Therefore, if I was practicing perfect posture and delivering my coaching with a tone that meant business, I was effectively coaching my clientele using this and other skills I had learned. I never felt inferior for being a woman and teaching a sport that was predominantly male oriented.
Through the nine years of training and teaching HapKiDo I also delved into nutrition studies and this time found myself in a field flooded with females. I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (over 90% female students) and later with a Master’s degree in Nutrition (more than 50% female students).
Later on, I used my femininity to create a program called Stilettos and Self Defense to appeal to women who wanted to learn self-defense but not necessarily train in martial arts. Definitely, a class that most men could not teach!
My advice to any woman wanting to develop her career in the sports, fitness or health industry is to absolutely go for it. Create a special niche for yourself based on your strengths. Take classes and read books on effective communication and hone your skills. Use your feminine power and nurturing nature to increase people’s health and therefore happiness. I couldn’t think of a more worthy way to spend your time on Earth.
Now more than ever young women need healthy female role models. With the popularity of the Kardashians and the Lindsay Lohans of the world, there is so much room for strong, fit and successful females in sports to fill in the gaping holes left by these other public figures influencing our youth.
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to be a mentor for young women either. Being a leader in your industry and having a deep understanding of how to teach, coach and communicate are great gifts to share with women around the globe.
When in doubt, and there will be those moments, revert to this empowering quote from a real woman warrior, Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Jennifer Cassetta is an LA-based Certified Clinical Nutritionist, personal trainer, and 3rd Degree Black Belt Instructor, World Pro HapKiDo Federation. She teaches around the world on all things health and self-defense and has been featured on The Today Show, The Doctors, Bethenny and many other shows and is a contributor to Livestrong.com.