The Instagram fitness model who went viral after the clip of her fighting off her would-be rapist in the gym went viral credits her burgeoning bodybuilding career with helping to save her life.
Nashali Alma, 24, told DailyMail.com exclusively on Thursday: 'I was confident I had strength and mentality to fight back. I was much stronger than I think with all my fitness work and bodybuilding, I am proud to be a bodybuilder!'
Alma, whose Instagram page is littered with photos showing showing off her incredible physique, said that she wants to see the suspect in prison 'serving a long term because that is what he deserves.'
The fitness star disclosed that she does not take any self-defense classes but the ordeal has prompted her to look into attending one.
Describing her strategy in the beatdown she said: 'I just kept punching him with my phone, my hands, upper cut him on the ground, pulled his beard hair out, I just kept punching and moving so he wouldn’t get a chance.'
Alma earlier said in a video released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office that when her attacker approached her, she pushed him away. She told him to leave her alone, but he began to chase her around the gym - before he grabbed her and she rained punches on him.
The incident occurred in the Inwood Park Apartment Complex in Tampa on January 22. Following the attack, Alma advised women caught in similar situations to 'Never give up.'
Her attacker later told police he was trying to rape her.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said: 'I was disgusted by the suspect’s actions, how he preyed on this young woman. I'm grateful that she came forward, I know her story is going to be an inspiration to other women.'
Alma said that she let the suspect, Xavier Thomas-Jones, 25, into the building because she recognized him as someone who she had seen inside the complex once before.
At one point in the video, Thomas-Jones is seen pinning Alma to the ground but she continues to throttle him while also trying to call the police.
'When it was happening, I actually had no fear,' Alma said in describing the attack. 'I am a bodybuilder, and I’m actually pretty strong, so in my mind, he was kinda equal to me.'
She continued: 'The more fight you put, the more they want to give up... If I keep going, I keep pushing, he's going to stop. He's going to let go and he finally did.'
Alma said in an interview that she is a bodybuilder and that she knew that she would be able to fight off her attacker
The suspect in the attack is 25-year-old Xavier Thomas-Jones, Alma said she was able to gain an advantage over him by twisting his beard
'My advice would be to never give up,' Alma said in the video. 'My parents always told me in life, to never give up on anything and that's one thing I always kept in my mind when I was fighting him.'
The model was able to drive her attacker away and he fled building before officers arrived. He was arrested around 24 hours later and charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.
reports that Thomas-Jones left in the apartment building. The station, citing court documents, said that he admitted to officers that he was intending to sexually assault her.
The station reports that when he was arrested, the suspect had leering at a woman on a balcony and had gone to her apartment in an attempt to gain entry for 'sexual' reasons.
He asked her if she wanted to 'hang out,' she replied: 'Who the f*** are you?' Thomas-Jones entered her home which alerted the woman's fiance who chased him off and recorded him on his phone.
It was through that information that deputies were able to track down and arrest Thomas-Jones.
That woman told 'You have no idea who I am. You have clearly been watching me from outside my apartment and you just decided to come out and knock on my door. It was weird. It was really weird, really scary.'
In an interview with Alma went into more detail on the attempted attack.
'He grabbed me and I'm like, "Heck no, it's game time. I took my phone and I smashed his head and punched him. I knew I had the strength, I knew I could fight and I wasn't going to let this man win at all.'
In an interview with WTSP, Alma said: 'He grabbed me and I'm like, "Heck no, it's game time." I took my phone and I smashed his head and punched him'
On her Instagram page, Alma refers to herself as a fitness trainer and online coach. Her profile is mainly images showing her working out at the gym
Alma is a graduate of the University of South Florida and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rasmussen University
Her boyfriend assured friends and family in a post on his Instagram page that Alma was not hurt in the incident and that she is 'stronger than ever' because of it
Alma boasts around 10,000 followers across her Instagram and TikTok profiles
In that interview, Alma encouraged other women to come forward to report attempted sexual assaults. 'It’s better to reach out to law enforcement sooner than later. The sooner they have the information, the sooner they can catch that person.'
In another interview with WFTS, Alma said that she was able to gain an advantage on Thomas-Jones by repeatedly twisting his beard.
On her Instagram page, Alma refers to herself as a fitness trainer and online coach. Her profile is mainly images showing her working out at the gym.
Alma is a graduate of the University of South Florida and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rasmussen University.
Her boyfriend assured friends and family in a post on his Instagram page that Alma was not hurt in the incident and that she is 'stronger than ever' because of it.
A 2021 study from fitness resource website found that 87 percent of women reported feeling unsafe at the gym. While a shocking 93 percent said that their workouts had been interrupted during workouts.
Another 75 percent of women said that they were catcalled at the gym and 63 percent said that they changed their routines due to persistent harassment.