The practice was just a hobby for Cassetta, 39, at first, but as she reveals in this exclusive clip from Thursday’s episode, she committed to martial arts as a career after experiencing the tragic events of September 11 first hand.
“I was working downtown, about three blocks south of the World Trade Center,” she recalls to Robinson. “So I showed up for work, on September 11, in the morning, and when I got out of the subway, I just felt all hell had broken loose, and everyone was just running around and pointing, I had no idea what was going on, and I just followed their fingers to this massive, gaping hole in one of the towers.”
“I remember being hysterical thinking this is it, this is where, I’m going to die.”
Cassetta says she was able to make her way to SoHo, and sheltered with her friends at her martial arts school.
“It kind of became this refuge place,” she says. “In any of my spare time, all I wanted to do was get back to the martial arts studio and train.”
Six months later, she decided to become a personal trainer focusing on martial arts.
“I was committed to doing something with purpose for my life, because I realized from that incident that life can be cut short at any minute,” Cassetta says. “I didn’t choose my path, I feel like my path chose me.”
Now she’s training Robinson, 37, in the practice, as part of her Strong, Safe and Sexy plan, and told PEOPLE that martial arts is fantastic for strength training.
“It’s a great core exercise, with so many mental and emotional benefits,” Cassetta previously told PEOPLE. Martial arts training is actually really like high intensity interval training because of the intensity of the workouts and the rest periods. But you’re also learning to defend yourself at the same time.”
And Robinson is excited to work with Cassetta, especially after gaining a deeper understanding for her background.
“Listening to Jennifer, she went through this life changing experience and committed to martial arts,” Robinson says.
“Although it’s nothing like 9/11, this experience that I’m on now is making me reflect over some things in my life and commit to this journey.”