Geneva Simms is all about power.
And she’s helping people all over New York, and worldwide, feel more of it. As a certified personal trainer and self-defense coach, Geneva is busy making sure her clients are prepared for the worst. Whether it’s building strength, practicing effective escape techniques, or learning to breathe in high-stress situations, she covers all bases.
As someone who has gone through a sexual assualt, Geneva was determined to learn to defend herself. She said, “while the assault doesn’t define who I am, it absolutely changed me and my perception of the world. When it happened, I had no tools or skills to handle the situation. In fact, in the moment, I froze.”
Geneva, who went on to study the human neurological system, explains that freezing as, “a nervous system response in the same category as fight and flight. The freeze response occurs when a person is in immediate danger, terrified, and feels there is little chance of escape.”
Once she educated herself, Geneva decided it was her due diligence to pass the message along to as many other women (and men) as possible. “In the most difficult moments after my attack, I decided to do whatever I could to prevent others from experiencing what I did. That way, they didn’t have to go through the heartbreak of putting their lives back together.”
On top of helping prepare clients for a possible attack, she also helps victims overcome traumas that have already happened. Taking a two-fold approach, Geneva addresses the needs of both the mind and the body.
Using fitness through a trauma-based approach, she helps her clients become comfortable and grounded back in their bodies. Finding safety there once again.
She also uses her self-defense training to help them “flip the script” on the traumas they’ve lived through. “Recently, I had a client who was mugged. Her attacker put her in a bear hug from behind with her hands pinned. When it occurred, she said she had no idea what to do. She asked me to teach her how to escape if that were to happen again.”
In addition, Geneva uses her extensive background in meditation to help counteract the mental and emotional effects of trauma. She notes, “these methods not only help clients who have experienced a traumatic event, but also anyone who is stressed out. Chronic stress and trauma have similar effects on the nervous system.”
Empower to Power®
And now, Geneva is ready to spread her message. In 2015, she began developing “Empower to Power®,” an organization whose mission is to help prevent violence and sexual assault by providing on-site classes, advocacy and awareness to vulnerable populations.
Geneva explains, “with speaking engagements and by providing tools and strategies through body-weight fitness methods, real scenario self-defense tactics, breath work and meditation, the goal is to enable participants to live in choice, not by chance™.”
Below, Geneva gives us a sneak peak of how to escape from a bear hug:
1. Base out: squat and lower your center of gravity. Simultaneously clamp one hand on top of attacker’s hands.
2. Shift hips to one side in order to open space.
3. Deliver 2-3 open palm strikes to attacker’s groin
4. Break the hold: step forward, rotate torso and push one shoulder forward through attacker’s hands. Deliver an elbow strike upward to attacker’s chest/chin/or throat with opposite elbow (*if you are unable to break their hold, you are still holding onto their hands with one of your hands. Try a finger joint manipulation on their pinky finger.)
5. Rotate completely to face attacker while simultaneously delivering a hammerfist to either attacker’s neck or side of jaw (keep holding their arm with your other hand to keep some control of what they are able to do.)
6. After delivering the hammerfist, grab the attacker’s shoulder that is closest to where you delivered the hammerfist and deliver 2-3 knee strikes to attacker’s groin.
If you are in need of help, please reach out. The Joyful Heart Foundation was started by Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order SVU. It was a way to bring her on-screen work to life, advocating for victims of sexual assault and abuse.
And keep your eyes open for Work Train Fight featured in an upcoming episode of SVU!