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Demo Girl

For the first time in 12 years, I joined a new gym. I didn’t think I needed a shake up but it’s always nice to switch up a routine even if it’s something as small as driving in a different direction in the morning.


I love this new gym because I don’t have to think at all. I show up and the equipment I need is set up in pods, TVs display the exercises to follow along and a timer tells me when to move stations. The music is loud, the work out is hard, and the gym is almost all windows! All windows means no mirrors. And no mirrors means I can focus on working hard and not how I look when I’m working hard. Sure, this means sometimes I don’t notice when my headband has migrated to the back of my head and looks more like a yarmulke than something to keep my bangs out of my face, but out of sight out of mind!


More than the lack of mirrors, I love the community feel of this new gym. I’d been going to a mega-chain gym since college and there was always broken equipment, they have weird bureaucratic rules and no one ever, ever high-fived me when I checked in. But that’s not the case with this new gym! I get high-fived when I walk out of the bathroom, or into the bathroom, or stand near the door, or stretch near the water fountain. We high-five because we care. This new gym is small and clean and they plan tons of out of gym activities like hikes, potlucks, mountain trips. At the other place I was just a number, but here, I’m a name. I’m just not my name.


After a few months, the new gym was getting busier and busier and the owners needed some extra help. They asked me if I'd be the Demo Girl. The Demo Girl is exactly what it sounds like: I tear the place apart with a sledgehammer! Not really. I demonstrate each of the exercises at the beginning of class so everyone knows the proper form, tempo and modifications.


I don’t think the owners used the term “Demo Girl” when they asked, they probably said something more professional and sensitive to female objectification. Something like, “would you demonstrate exercises for us” but I think Demo Girl is cute and fun so I use it. I said yes; I wanted to get more involved in this community and was excited to introduce myself to other members.


The only problem is Demo Girl doesn’t speak so I don’t control how I’m introduced. As the instructor narrates the exercise, I do the exercise. Silently. Think of me like Venus Williams meets Vanna White.


It started with the common mispronunciation of my name. Anne-Uh instead of On-Uh.

Hey everyone, Anne-Uh is going to demo for us today!

Okay, no big deal. This happens all the time and sometimes, depending on the situation, I don’t even correct people. I’ve learned to respond to both and with the melting pot that is the United States, a lot of people say Anne-Uh with an accent and who am I to correct that? Maybe that’s how On-Uh is pronounced in Vancouver?


It didn’t take long before Anne-Uh became Anne. When my name changed to Anne, the times I was mentioned by name throughout the demo I dunno, like, quadrupled?

We have Anne here demo-ing for us today. Let’s give it up for Anne! Come guys, really put your hands together for a great effort by Anne! [chanting] Anne! Anne! Come on, join me! Anne! Anne! Anne! Anne!

I didn’t love this. I don’t think I look like an Anne. No offense to Annes, I just… well, it’s an unwelcomed shortening of a name that’s not mine so I think I have a right to be upset and don’t have to justify or apologize to Annes.


A few days later, I took my position at the first station, and waited for the instructor to introduce Demo Girl Anne.

Welcome, team! Today we have Annie taking us through the exercises. Hit it, Annie!

Annie.


Well now we’ve just gone too far. There’s no way I can pull the instructors aside and say “hey, no big deal, but my name isn’t actually Annie. It’s Anna.”

(This might not translate well in text so wherever you are right now, say these names aloud: Annie / Anna) Very different, right?

I might as well go up to the instructors and say “hey, no big deal, but my name isn’t actually Annie. It’s Randolph.” THAT’S HOW DIFFERENT IT IS.


I wonder if this ever happened to Vanna. Was she ever called Vaughn-Uh? Or…. has it been Vaughn-Uh all along?


Annie.

Honestly, though? I love it. How cute! I'm Annie now and I'm never going back to Anne.

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