For some, especially women, it can be difficult to walk into a male-dominated gym and bust out reps without hesitation or self-consciousness. If a smaller, more intimate environment is your vibe, there’s perhaps no better place than Jaye Marolla’s weekly class for women at Studio Amiel (9-10 am Fridays, $22, 312 Montezuma Ave., studioamiel.com). Dubbed Women’s Dojo, you can cross the threshold of body acceptance and positive workouts with the Friday morning classes and, if you’re looking for a more defined core or nimble agility skills—or just searching for a good time and even better sweat—Marolla has created a primo environment for fear-free sessions. With 10 years of martial arts training and personal experience with discomfort in more male-dominated gyms, Marolla’s cathartic and satisfying workout is for all skill levels in a safe space for women. Marolla’s website has more info, but you can read on for even more persuasion.
Could you talk to us a little about the inspiration that led to your creation of Women’s Dojo?
My journey started when I moved back to the States from Thailand, where I taught Thai Body Work for three years, in 2012. For 10 years, I studied Jujitsu, Aikito, Kung Fu and noticed that I learned in mostly male-dominated spaces, because that’s what it happens to be like more often in a martial context. Typically, the dojos were run by men. There is nothing super negative about that, but it just felt difficult, as a woman, to easily walk into those spaces. The energy is quite different. At this point, coming out of the COVID-19 [pandemic], as I thought about training again, I realized that I didn’t want to join another dojo. Throughout my time in isolation, I taught martial movement classes online. The vibe in the space where I teach now, Studio Amiel, is just so positive. Ranier Wood, the founder of the studio, is a local artist in town. Because her vibe is so positive toward women, I thought this would be the best possible place to have Women’s Dojo, because the practice is so aligned with her ethos. It just felt right.
For those who’ve never participated in this type of class before, can you tell readers a bit about what to expect from the experience?
We do quite a bit of work with conditioning, jumping, calisthenics and functional movement. As we move forward with agility, we veer toward kicking and striking. We do work with mitts, but everything starts with the individual getting used to the pattern of movement as the initial building block. I want people to come in and expect to feel safe and comfortable immediately. I think male-dominated atmospheres can intimidate lots of women concerning injury, so I bring a therapeutic, holistic approach to training with my background in massage therapy. I try to create a welcoming space of invitation for anyone regardless of level and skill. Some people feel like they have to be at a certain level of conditioning or experience, and that’s really not the case with the [class]. The class is totally beginner friendly. The variety of experience actually enhances time spent at the dojo. If you have a very basic knowledge, level of fitness and will to work, we’re good. No skill is required, just excitement for a new experience.
What is the most important thing for you when designing and leading your classes?
I want to make sure that the experience is empowering for the women I’m working with. My main goal is to help them feel comfortable in their body. I lead with a really strong sense of body acceptance because I think that’s the only way we can move towards transformation, by having a positive vibe about what we’re doing. Without having that opportunity for two or three years of COVID-19, I have a new appreciation for how important and healthy it can be to sweat in a room of other people.und in massage therapy. I try to create a welcoming space of invitation for anyone regardless of level and skill. Some people feel like they have to be at a certain level of conditioning or experience, and that’s really not the case with the dojo. The class is totally beginner friendly. The variety of experience actually enhances time spent at the dojo. If you have a very basic knowledge, level of fitness and will to work, we’re good. No skill is required, just excitement for a new experience.