In celebration of the wallflower

Sometime in September of 2016, I met a woman who I immediately classified as a wallflower. She was attending an interview to participate in a women’s-only 6-week fitness challenge I was coaching, and her mom tagged along to the interview. It was classic My Big Fat Greek Wedding…except I came to learn later she was Macedonian. She was shy, her adorable, tiny-yet-overbearing mother spoke for her, and when she left the room to get her wallet, the mother spoke quickly and softly of how important this program would be to her daughter’s health. Had she not joined on the spot, I would’ve sworn I’d never see her again.

Fast forward a couple weeks. The wallflower, who we’ll call Kay, was quiet but hardworking in class. She was by far the biggest girl in the challenge, and also the most committed. Her genuine smile tried to cover her discomfort at any number of simple movements. She didn’t appear to befriend anyone in class, and I could never tell if she liked me or the other coaches. (Not that I showed I cared…I had an icy reputation to uphold, you know.)

She never missed a class. She rarely spoke. She worked her ass off and it showed. I thought…hey, wallflower, I like your style.

Then, one day, the workout called for hanging from the bar and raising your knees to your chest. She candidly proclaimed that her hands weren’t cut out for such things. She struggled to even hang the first time. Hung cautiously for 2 seconds the second time. And by the end of the workout, was hanging from the bar and lifting her knees to her chest. A wave of idontknowwhat rushed over me and I proclaimed, “Kay! Your BRAVE is showing!” That unmistakable smile shone through and she just plugged along at the workout, now 16 pounds lighter than she’d been just 8 or 10 weeks prior.

Fast forward again, to December. She had decided to join another challenge, this one with an incentive to win her enrollment fee back if she hit her transformation goal. She boldly proclaimed that not only was she going to get her money back, but she’d apply it to a CrossFit membership…something most of the Challenge gals seemed to be deathly afraid of. Not long after, she handed me a small gift…it was a framed card that said Empowered Women Empower Women. I sat in my office chair, took a deep breath, and thanked the Universe for two things: not letting me underestimate this woman and for bringing her into my life.

It’s January now and she’s well on her way to earning her money back. She’s created a video testimonial for us to use to promote our challenge. She’s come out of her quiet shell and she lets that honest, heartfelt smile break through the struggle-face most days. The other day, she even told me this great story…

“You know, when Sia first started singing instead of just hiding behind her songwriting, it inspired me. Imagine how much untapped potential I might have if I just wasn’t so shy.”

Yes, Kay my all-time-favorite wallflower. Just imagine.

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