Fashlete™ of the Month

Terri Rosen : The Integrity of a Black Belt


Name: Terri Rosen
Occupation: Owner at Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness, Owner/Designer at temalidesign

Sometimes the best experiences in life are things that we don't even see coming. What I learned from our interview with Terri is that it is important to always remain open minded, especially when we find ourselves at a crossroads. Instead of looking for the quick answer, ask more questions. Verbalize what you need in your life and be open to venturing down all sorts of unfamiliar paths in order to reach the desired destination.

Terri moved to Columbus in 2006 and suddenly had a lot of questions. Prior to her move she had a fulfilling college experience where she majored in graphic design and was introduced to weightlifting. She began to wonder: "How does someone make friends as an adult in a new city?" She was also interested in training for a triathlon but wasn't sure where to start. And finally, she was closing in 180 lbs she wondering how she could "fix it".

One year later, the answers to all of Terri's questions were answered in an unusual way - a way that she couldn't even pronounce. On a fateful Saturday morning, a friend convinced her to try Krav Maga.

"Krav Ma-what??" ...I had no idea what I was in for..."

What happened next was a journey of self-discovery, success, health, and love. Terri was the second woman in the United States Krav Maga Association to earn her Black Belt, and one of only a handful in the entire world. In our interview, Terri shares the ups and downs of her experience and how taking a leap of faith has transformed her life and the lives of others.

Terri, what is Krav Maga?

I get that question pretty often. Usually, I start by saying, "have you ever watched mixed martial arts? UFC?. Well, it's a lot like that, except without the rules. If something is illegal in the cage, it's probably one of the first things I'm going to teach you to do in a self defense situation. Kick the groin, poke eyes, etc."

I got to punch, elbow, kick and knee some girl I'd never met before, and she returned the favor. Forcefully. I couldn't believe how exhausting this was! I signed up on the spot for a yearlong membership. Immediately, I started attending classes 5-6 days a week. Soon after I started, one of the Krav Maga instructors started attending a CrossFit gym down the road, and bringing the evil ideas he learned there, back to our gym. He held a once-a-week class called Crazy Fit, because it was only for people crazy enough to try this bizarre type of workout.

I loved that it was a great workout but I also felt like I'd learned something valuable about self defense, even in one lesson. I also appreciated that there were people of all levels in the class, so even though I was the newbie and had no idea what I was doing, I felt supported and inspired. 

By November 2007, I was enrolled to become a Krav Maga instructor. And in August of 2008, I earned my CFL1. There was no turning back.I still had my full-time graphic design job, and I remember writing in a journal one night, "I love the gym! I wish I could find a way to make fitness my profession and design my hobby, instead of the other way around."

In May of 2009, I took that leap. I'd been designing flyers and posters for the gym for a while, as well as teaching classes. The owner was going to be semi-retiring out of state, and he was looking for someone to take over his wife's position of Marketing Director. I left my full-time, very secure job as an Art Director, and accepted a position making $500 a month base salary plus commission for intros and enrollments. Yikes!

I'd lost 30 lbs, gotten a TON stronger, and was more confident and capable than I could ever remember being. A journey of self-discovery had begun. In October of 2009, I earned my Yoga Alliance 200-hour certification, and I was all-in as a fitness professional.

Do people sign up for fitness or self-defense?

I'd say 90% of the people I talk to are looking to lose a few pounds. The number of people who call and say "I need self defense" is considerably lower than those who call and say "I'm bored at the gym and looking for something new."  That being said, you'd be surprised how much people are willing to share about their stories.

I've been doing this job a long time, and it never gets any easier to talk to a woman who is locked in her bathroom so that "he" doesn't hear her trying to schedule an intro lesson. Watching people achieve things they never knew they could do is one of the most rewarding parts of this job.

Whether that's a kipping pullup, punching a mitt, or healing from past violent trauma, this is a truly life-changing experience for both members and instructors. 

The CrossFit Krav Maga Connection:

In the mean time...I found that CrossFit was able to satisfy that competitive bug. I volunteered at the 2009 CrossFit Regionals (which, at the time, was held in the Rogue Fitness parking lot on a Saturday morning) and committed to becoming a competitive CrossFit athlete in 2010. I finished in the top 50% of Sectionals athletes in 2010 and advanced to Regionals that same year. And not to forget my progress in Krav Maga, I earned my Black Belt in January of 2011. I was the second female in the United States Krav Maga Association to earn such a rank, and one of only a handful in the world.

Answering phones and signing members up quickly turned into running the day-to-day operations while the boss was down south. In December of 2010, he approached me about fully retiring and asked if I wanted to buy the business. I crunched every number I could, borrowed some money from family, and in July of 2011, I became the owner of Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness.

I continue to compete on a local level (including the not-so-local Heraean Games in 2013), teach, and advance my own studies. On top of owning a 3-location Krav Maga and CrossFit gym, this is a 24/7 commitment to myself and my community. In October of 2013, I earned my 2nd Degree Black Belt in Krav Maga from Foundation Krav Maga, an organization for whom I am one of the lead instructors. We are a national organization of Krav Maga and CrossFit gym owners, dedicated to helping other business owners grow their gyms and build a community of like-minded people.

And lest any reader out there assume that I'm a type-A, buried-in-my-career, miserable single person who's going to die alone and rich (isn't that what we silently assume about all successful women??) I can tell you this: what happens when I step on the floor as a coach, makes all the bad days worth it. Owning a business is not fun. It's hard work. It's easy to get run down, taken advantage of, lose money, lose hope, lose friends. But for a few hours a day, I get to help make a difference in people's lives. The same difference that a select few men and women made in my life since that fateful day in January 2007. And when the day is bad, I still get to come home to my awesome supportive girlfriend (who is also a Krav Maga machine!), my adorable pit bull puppy, and the breath of relief that comes only from being surrounded by the people who love you and know first-hand why you get up every morning and try it all again.

As our July Fashlete of the Month, Terri is receiving a customized sterling silver "Pep Talk" charm inscribed with the word "Integrity". This word is already tattooed on her body and painted on the wall of her gym. I asked Terri to explain why this word in particular is so meaningful to her...

It's a vital element of how I try to live my life and run my business. The martial arts world, and fitness world to an increasing degree, is full of people who are looking to make a quick buck by putting as many people through their program as possible.

To me, having integrity means I earned every step of my journey. I bled, sweated, and broke bones to get my black belt. I suffered through torn-open hands, a back injury, and sore muscles to get where I am as a CrossFit athlete. Nobody can look at my journey and say "eh, they handed her that," or, "she's pretty good, for a girl." I want to make sure that the people's paths that are affected by my professional life have that same experience. I'm not handing anybody anything. I'd rather have a small group of really hard-working athletes than a huge army of people just going through the motions.

Like a tattoo or a mural, we hope that this necklace will serve as a constant reminder of the integrity that has been such a vital component of Terri's journey and success. We are very proud to welcome Terri to the Fashletics family.

  • Author avatar
    Sarah Wilson
  • CoachingCrossFitInspirationKrav MagaSelf ImprovementWomen's Fitness

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