WATCH: Woman fends off attackers at Florida gym

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 24-year-old woman was able to fend off an attacker who was chasing her around a gym at an apartment complex in Tampa last month, authorities said.

“As soon as he approached me,” Nashali Alma recalls. “I pushed him. I said, ‘Bro, what the hell are you doing?’”

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the incident happened on Jan. 22 at a gym in the Inwood Park apartment complex and was caught on security camera.

Alma told MPs she was training alone when a man identified as Xavier Thomas-Jones arrived at the gym. She said she felt comfortable letting him into the facility because she had seen him there before.

Surveillance video released Wednesday shows the man approaching Alma and grabbing her waist.

“Next thing you know,” Alma said, “I get up from my workout and grab my phone and he just walks up to me and not a word was exchanged.”

Alma told him to walk away and tried to leave the gym, but he started chasing her around the facility and was able to grab her and push her to the floor. Alma was eventually able to fend off her attacker, ran out of the gym, and called 911.

“I wasn’t really scared when it happened,” Alma said. “I’m a bodybuilder and I’m actually quite strong, so he was kind of my equal.”

MPs said the man fled, but investigators were able to locate him and arrest him 24 hours later. He faces charges of sexual harassment, false imprisonment and kidnapping, authorities said.

“I would tell every woman to keep fighting and never give up,” Alma said in a sheriff’s statement. “As long as you fight back and show him you’re strong and not giving up, I believe it’s possible to escape. It’s better to contact law enforcement sooner than later. The sooner they have the information, the sooner they can catch that person.”

“I was blown away by how proud I was that this victim didn’t allow herself to be raped,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “And how hard she fought and what strength she had.” WATCH: Woman fends off attackers at Florida gym

Dais Johnston

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