By Donn Swaby


The Power of the Amazon Death Squad

Ever dreamed of becoming a spy or at least having all the capabilities of one? In the Spy School program offered by Absolution, a gym and workout center that is anything but ordinary, you can learn how to fight off an attacker, belly dance, hack a computer, and scale walls. And that's just in the intro course.

The most advanced programs, from Advanced Spy School all the way to the Sisterhood of the Amazon Death Squad, will have you learning to fend off multiple attackers, fight with weapons, and perfect a "tummy of death" through rigorous Pilates classes.

CEO Sascha Ferguson, a former music industry executive with self-described "insane amounts of energy, runs the center along with Lisa, a body guard to the stars and master of weapons/personal impact safety trainer for eighteen years, who, according to Ms. Ferguson, " is personally responsible for the training of just about every female body guard in Los Angeles, " and Judy Louise Johnson, who possesses amazing etiquette is a great judgment of character, adds the balance between Sascha and Lisa.

All three came together five years ago through a mutually shared passion for Pilates. The first idea for Absolution came to Ms. Ferguson due to her observation of how woman would see gorgeous celebs Diaz, Barrymore, and Lu gracefully executing Matrix style fight moves (on wires), wish that their own bodies and skills matched those of the fictional heroines, and feel bad about themselves. Ms. Ferguson wanted to create a place that would reverse this damaging internalization of negative body image along with other self-destructive habits. With Absolution she sought to cultivate "a supportive emotional environment" through masterful training that made the seemingly impossible possible.

They initially opened in a space right across from the present one where they brought in such original workshops as Girls Just Want to Have Funds, a financial program that helped women learn how to start an IRA, write a will, or plan for retirement. They had Franc, a lesbian folk singer, host a wildly successful Tupperware Party of Death.

Absolution, what Ferguson calls "a playground for adults," now inhabits the space previously occupied by a nightclub. Through serious word of mouth, numerous "Best of L.A." awards, and spotlight segments on television news and entertainment programs, more and more women have sought Absolution to, as Sascha puts it, "dare to suck. Failure isn't falling down. It's not getting up."

Absolution is also a place for healing. "Many people here have experienced either rape, addiction, heartbreak, or other severe trauma. There is a massive survival mentality here. Women become empowered, ask for what they want, and become comfortable with their sexuality. People taking classes have called me up crying because we helped change their lives.”

The Philosophy of Absolution is, if you have a good time, you'll come back and coming back consistently brings results."

Although the prices may be seem to be high (Spy School intro package is $200 and Advanced is $ 1,100), Ms. Ferguson knows she can find anyone attending the center who would swear that it is more than worth it. "If you spend twenty or thirty hours here, look me in the face, and say that you don't feel like a different human being, I will give you your money back." So far, due to the general public’s overwhelmingly positive response to she may not ever have to.

Absolution Workout Complex
8535 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

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© Melt Magazine 2005