Meet the Hosts Girls in Gis Texas Austin-Jennifer Norrell, Lana Toporek and Claudia Dalesandro

GIGTX Austin copyOn April 17th Girls in Gis will host its 3rd Texas event of 2016 in Pfluggerville, a suburb of Austin. For the first time ever Team Rabidi (an affiliate of Team Tooke) will be hosting this event with guest instructors Jennifer Norrell, Lana Toporek and Claudia Delesandro. These talented ladies are eager to share their skills with the group. Everyone is welcome. Females of all ages, skill levels and from all affiliations. Last time we had an event under the Team Tooke leniage we had over 100 participants. Let’s make it a repeat! We had a chance to catch up with our awesome trio and see what they had in store for us.

Meet  Jennifer Norrell

jennifern1When Jennifer Norrell turned 40 years of age, she realized needed something else to prove to herself that she can accomplish anything she put mind to. Jennifer says age is only a mind set and she refused to grow old without pushing herself to the extreme limits. Jiu-jitsu filled that void.

Jennifer is a blue belt at Team Rabidi. She has been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Muay Thai for three years. She says that Jiu-jitsu is a stress reliever for her. She takes it to the mat and leaves it there. Training to compete has also kept her motivated to improve her game.

Jennifer’s life revolves around fitness and she has big dreams. Jennifer is a certified personal trainer. She trains weightlifting at the gym. She also runs outdoor fitness boots camps. In her spare time she weight trains,  does Muay Thai and loves to work in her garden.  She aspires to become a Pan Ams champion. Someday soon she will, just you see.

jennifern4The biggest challenge Jennifer has faced is because BJJ is a male dominant sport she has had to prove herself more in order to earn respect from her training partners. She says she is not an average girl and that most women in BJJ aren’t because they are stronger and very confident. She says that she has overcome these challenges by training hard and having the ability to submit a man that out weights her by 80-90lbs. According to Jennifer this is an incredible feeling for a woman and very empowering. According to Jennifer BJJ provides empowerment, self-confidence and self-respect.

“Everyone needs some self-improvement to their body and soul. Bjj offers that. Women also need to know how to defend themselves. Learning Self-defense is priceless.”

Meet Lana Toporek


Lana Toporek has been doing martial arts almost her whole life. About five or size years ago Lana was in a slump; so much that sh felt like quitting. And then she met met Robby and was introduced to BJJ. For Lana BJJ was something new that challenged her, so she went for it and fell in love. Her love of martial arts and the joy she gets from training is what keeps her going. She is now a purple belt.

Lana is a police officer for the Austin Police Department. When she is not on the mats or catching criminals she is hanging out with her husband and cat. She enjoys karaoke, swimming, weight training, reading, and napping if she has any time is left. At the top of her BJJ bucket list you will find Lana’s dream, to go to Brazil and train for at least three months.

lana1No journey is complete without challenges to make it a path worth traveling. We all face many obstacle in our BJJ journey and event with martial arts experience this doesn’t make the journey any easier says Lana.

“I had to be ok with not winning every match. Like I said, having done martial arts my whole life I thought it would be easy, but it was quite challenging. I realized “getting tapped” is part of the learning process, and I let go of my ego. My training has come leaps and bounds since then!”

However, according to Lana BJJ is well worth the struggle because after all that is what builds confidence, a better body image, and camaraderie. She also says it is a great way to push yourself, get great exercise, and make new friends.

Meet Claudia Dalesandro

claudia2Claudia Delesandro began her training in 2011 and is a purple belt at Team Rabadi Brazilian Jui Jitsu. Training for the Delesandro family is quailty family time. Claudia works as a corporate controller and in her spare time she enjoys CrossFit and is an avid reader. Claudia says her life has been filled with many obstacles to overcome. However, she has always thought of them as challenges.

According to Claudia getting started in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be intimidating, but once you get over the beginner’s bump it will become a massive part of your life. She says training martial arts is one of the most positive and beneficial things she’s done physically and mentally. Jiu jitsu brings a great refreshing atmosphere of camaraderie and girl time on the mats.


“For me there is no secret formula for staying motivated. Motivation comes from within, If you burn out, which you may, step away a few days, you’ll probably miss it and get the itch back.”

Claudia says it is important to always train as often as she can. Remember to support your academy. and your instructors because they work hard to give you their best.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.