Nov 25, 2013, 03:25PM

A Baffling Switcheroo at the Gym

The act of transformation.

Butterfly.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

At my gym there’s always a “monitor” stationed in the fitness room. I see her picking up leftover water bottles, cleaning machines, answering questions from members and being there in case someone flies off a treadmill. When I’m working out, the gym monitor is usually a meek, innocuous, young waif with mousy brown hair, cut in an outdated pixie not unlike the hairstyle my mother forced on my unruly hair in middle school.

She wears the regulation employee polo shirt but it appears to be a size too big for her slight, flat chested upper body. The khaki pants she wears sort of float on her legs and waist so I think they are probably too large as well. I’m guessing the plain white tennis shoes are from Walmart. She always sits timidly, hunch-shouldered on a bench and sort of fidgets. Sometimes looking in a spiral notebook, sometimes nervously glancing around the room, sometimes just nibbling her nails, her eyes darting up then back down to her lap. I silently call her “The Mouse.” She always says “Hello” and “Goodbye” to me with an uneasy yet shy smile but I always believed she belonged in the back room of a research library.

I saw her yesterday at the gym, on a treadmill. Now, before this I’ve never actually seen her use the equipment. She was wearing a black, slinky spandex cami and a  matching very short workout skort. Her shoes were a brilliant lime green. I was so astounded my routine came to a halt and I almost dropped a weight on my foot. I took a second take to ascertain it was indeed “The Mouse.” When she finished on the treadmill, she confidently walked in front of the mirror and stood there for 10 seconds adjusting her sexy top, thrusting her chest out, lifing her chin, running a finger through a wave in her short hair and just plain posing. She sashayed out of the gym shooting confident glances at several young men.

I was baffled. What could have turned this female Clark Kent into Superman?

When I looked at “The Mouse” in the gym, I thought of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. So it got me thinking about how this actually happens. I was amazed to find out that during the change, caterpillars create new cells called “imaginal cells.” These tiny cells are pivotal for metamorphosis. They’re completely different from the cells of the caterpillar and vibrate at a different frequency—carrying the blueprint of the emerging butterfly.

The caterpillar rebels and tries to attack these cells, just as we often oppose or are fearful of change in our lives. But just when the caterpillar thinks the world is coming to an end, the moment arrives for it to transform into something beautiful that can fly and soar. This theme of growth resonates with people, changing and becoming something completely different from what we used to be, undergoing the butterfly’s experience.

I guess this is what happened to “the Mouse.” She imagined herself into a new and enlivened creature. What are you imagining for yourself right now?

  • Sorry, but I fail to see any example of "growth" in this article. Perhaps you just had an attitude adjustment between times of seeing her. Perhaps her "mouse" style is her norm and this one time change is just an anomaly. Lastly, why makes you so able to determine "growth". Perhaps this woman has grown and is working on not caring about the opinions of gym rats and the other day was a regression. Your suggestion that the Mouse is in need of personal growth is judgmental to say the least, and superficial at best.

    Responses to this comment
  • Texan, I'm certainly not here to judge and hope change is always aligned with one's authentic self. I actually saw this young woman a second time working out and although we don't know each other by name, only face, I did tell her she looked "Great!" She informed me that she had begun working out and was taking a weekly boot camp class. She then said "I do have a body here." I took that to believe that she was very positive about whatever changes she was making in her life.

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment