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      Carolina Forest gym offers self-defense class in light of Heather Elvis' disappearance

      On Monday, Fitness Edge in Carolina Forest held a self defense class in light of the ongoing search for missing 20-year-old Heather Elvis from Myrtle Beach, as well as the other recent reports of missing women.

      The class was led by Douglas Sarvis, a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and an instructor at Twin Cities Martial Arts.

      The goal was to teach those who attended how to escape a threat and get to safety.

      "What I like to stress is to be calm. If you panic, you're not going to be able to execute a plan," Sarvis said.

      In order for these women to execute an effective plan, Sarvis gave them multiple step-by-step self-defense demonstrations and preventative tips on how to defend against an attacker.

      Sarvis shared some important reminders on how to prevent yourself from becoming a target: use a buddy system, don't walk by yourself in dimly lit places at night, keep your keys in your hands as you go to your car, and be aware of your surroundings.

      Other, lesser-known tips: If your driver-side door is parked right next to a big van, it's safer to get into your car through the passenger side. It reduces the chance of someone taking the opportunity to pull you into the van.

      Also, how you wear your hair can also make you an easier target for an attacker, according to Sarvis. A ponytail and/or a braid can be easier for an attacker to grab and pull you to the ground or guide you somewhere remote.

      Sarvis also recommends downloading a cell phone app.

      It's called OnWatch. To find out more about the app click here.

      A second, free self-defense class will be held at Fitness Edge in Carolina Forest Saturday, January 11th at 11:45 a.m.