You’re An Animal
by Holly Varni
June 6, 2013

We are all from the animal kingdom. I’m not talking about the argument of Creationism versus Evolution. On the contrary, I’m talking about comparisons to the animals we resemble in characteristics and physical stride.

While enduring exercise class, I noticed similarities between the people in my class and certain animals. I believe the best way to detect an individual’s likeness to an animal is to observe her while she runs and works out. This has been a successful theory for me, of course, only in my own private observations….in my own privately controlled experiment.

The Rabbit:

This person runs and scurries like rabbit, dodging predators with speed and quick, agile movements. She stays low to the ground and has the endurance to survive. There is little, if any, fat on her body and she love marathons.

The Ox:

She has an innate strength that is only enhanced by working out. Her girth (How many times in your life have you used that word?) and stock remind me of an ox. She is built for work. Attach a yoke to her, and she could pull a plow.

It is this gene pool that has kept humanity moving forward. She descends from a hardy people who survived famine, the Black Plague, and frontier life. There are no delicate wisps in her lineage. Great puffs and grunts are exhaled with a beet red face, but she keeps pushing. She is silent when in pain and never complains of hardship.

She’s an overachiever, choosing to do the most difficult version of any exercise. When doing lunges, her bended knee actually touches the ground. When using small hand weights, she opts for the same weight an NFL linebacker would use. When doing push-ups, she lifts one leg off the ground.

On a typical day of defeat for me, I was exercising and watching the ox perform double of what I did. I finally stopped, and said out of breath, “You’re a Beast.” The Ox smiled as if I gave her the best compliment of her life. She owns that ox spirit and is proud of her power and might.

The Deer & Gazelle:

This person takes loooooooong strides with her long, graceful legs. While warming up, she move effortlessly and appears to be engaged in ballet rather than boot camp. However, as soon as the alert is sounded, she is down to business with her elegant gait….her arms and legs moving in perfect rhythm as fluid extensions of her body.

She doesn’t have the same intense concentration as the others, yet she takes on her surrounding as if she owns it. While the rabbit scuttles around her, and the ox is a lone force way behind, she lopes across the terrain of the gym floor with ease, turning her head from side to side to converse about anything from the weather to her children. My aspiration is to fall into this group someday, but I’m not there yet.

The Jaguar:

This stealthy creature has a quiet step that makes the other animals cautious. Her fashionable exercise clothes (like the beautiful coat of a jaguar), and cute as a kitten face (like her feline cousin) masks her masculine, well-toned limbs. While other animals attempt to look around and spot the jaguar, they are usually not prepared for her approach.  A jaguar cannot be detected; she sneaks up on you.

She never has cause to move over or make room for others, because people instinctively don’t interfere with her guarded tread. Her sense of fashion and aloofness can be deceptive; she is powerful…well shaped…and ready to run. The jaguar does not breathe heavily and will never be found out of breath. She looks around and is closely attune with the weakest in the pack. It scares me how she peers at me.

The Dog:

Who doesn’t love the goofy, sweet spirited Golden Retriever? There are always a couple dogs in every exercise class. They’re the ones who socialize every minute while working out. They see exercise as play and fun, rather than a necessary torture. There’s always a smile on their faces, no matter the activity. They take a lot of water breaks and when the exercise is too hard, they modify it a bit to their own liking until the instructor scolds and/or redirects them.

And at the end of class, their eyes light up and they start to drool if the instructor gives them a treat such as a single dark chocolate. They enjoy socializing in class, love their instructor for giving them treats, and after class will all go on their merry way…out for coffee and doughnuts! I need to be more like a dog.

The Elephant:

This lumbering creature is my favorite and the one with whom I identify. Have you ever seen an elephant run and thought, “That’s just not right. She was not meant to run.” Yep, that’ me.  However, an elephant does walk, and I’m pretty sure that I could walk across Africa and be ok. The elephant stands away from the crowd observing. She is the loner, always in the background, standing with her own kind. Though slower than the other animals, she perseveres and in the end is always standing.

Do you identify with one of these animals? You can change animals. You don’t have to be the same one forever, but I think I’ll hang onto the elephant for a while. There are benefits to every animal, whether it’s strength, stride, endurance or happiness. If mine is a long memory and loyalty, I can live with that.

Embrace your animal,