A woman works out at the same gym every week. A good-looking guy asks for her phone number.

She may be torn about whether she shouldlet him have it, but years of being taught to be polite override any misgivings.

That, said Fairfield police Detective Beth Irizarry, is a mistake.

"We're flattered that a guy would ask for our number," she said, but instead of giving him your number, ask for his.

Irizarry's advice came at an information session last week about a Rape Aggression Defense class that will be offered jointly by the Fairfield Police Department and Fairfield University. The four-session course includes instruction not only in some physical moves women can use to defend themselves, but also ways to prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.

Critin Jameson, a local realtor, took the RAD course about a year ago, and intends to take it again as a refresher.

She had some martial arts training previously, Jameson said, but the RAD course left her feeling "very empowered after the class was over." Now, she said, she believes she'll be able to do what is needed should a dangerous situation arise.

The course is free and open to all women. Jameson said she doesn't know why any woman would not take it.

Irizarry, who is also a certified RAD instructor, outlined some changes she has made in her own life.

A runner, the detective said she tries not to run the same route all the time. "I stopped running with my earphones on when I took RAD," Irizarry said. "It's opened my eyes; no one is immune to attack. If there's an opportunity for someone to take advantage of you by taking you by surprise, they will."

When she goes out by herself, she said, she makes sure she sends someone a text message letting them know where she's going and what time she left.

"Communicate. Reach out so people know what you're doing," Irizarry said. Pay attention to your surroundings, she said, and don't be afraid to speak up if you feel someone may be a threat to you.

The last day of the RAD course will include an opportunity for women to actually practice the self-defense techniques on an "attacker," and Irizarry. During the information session, Fairfield U. police Sgt. Robert Didato provided a brief demonstration.

Didato said no men are allowed to take the course. "We don't want an attacker in the class," he said, and participants don't have to take part in the last session if they don't feel comfortable. "We do encourage them to at least come and watch," he said.

Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said a second informational session is planned before the class starts in March. Women who sign up for the class will be given the dates, location and time.

For more information or to sign up for the RAD class, send an email to Irizarry at Birizarry@town.fairfield.ct.us, indicating your name, a phone number at which only you can be reached, e-mail address and the days and times of the week that would be best for you.