You’re in a small gym, completely alone. A handful of weak fluorescent lights adorn the ceiling and through the shadows, you see a punching bag standing mightily in the corner. Not giving the bag a second thought, you spend some time bouncing around, examining each piece of equipment quickly. You try a multitude of machines and play with a variety of equipment, yet nothing feels intuitive. After trying your hand at most-but not all-items littered through the facility, you shrug your shoulders and think “May as well try the punching bag.”
You wander around leisurely and eventually find a pair of handwraps suited for your hands; you slide them on. You adjust them and take your time getting the fit just right. Not seeing punching bag gloves in your immediate vicinity, you spend some time examining the large bag. It looks impenetrable, formidable-but it’s only a punching bag. The dim lighting of the gym is quite flattering to the large mass of sand and vinyl; the shadow it casts on the wall and floor it hangs over is all encompassing. You run your exposed fingers against the bag-the surface of it feels brand new, as if it’s fresh off the factory floor. The weight of the bag is substantial, but you’re able to give it a soft push and it swings steadily back and forth on the thick metal chain it’s affixed to. You decide it’s time to see what you can do.
You scour the gym for a pair of gloves which fit you. In the beginning your search is leisurely, but after multiple pairs don’t fit correctly you begin to grow ever so slightly irritated. You pick up your pace when you feel the first dribble of sweat from frustration burst onto your brow and find a pair which fits-as the old adage goes-like a glove. You jog back to the punching bag, excited to see how it feels to swing with all your might.
You take your first punch and decide not to put all your might behind it-no need to go all out on your first try and risk injury. The sound of the bag and glove impacting with one another is satisfying to your auditory senses; it sounds like progression. The weight of the bag feels significantly more substantial than you remember from before. The bag absorbs your paltry shot without hesitation and hardly moves in retaliation. You take a few more shots-your untrained hands feel awkward throwing feeble punches at the bag. You throw wild jabs, errant hooks and erratic uppercuts. Your form is unpolished and the shots have no power behind them, but you’re having fun trying out the bag.
Time passes and eventually, correct form takes shape. Your shoulders get loose, your core begins to tighten, your footwork improves and you begin to feel some genuine strength behind your punches. The shots come in single strikes and in quick one-two, one-two succession. Although you do not always hit the exact spot on the bag you are aiming for, the sound of the glove colliding with the bag grows louder. The bag begins to sway back and forth slightly further due to your increased power. Although the bag’s aesthetic is unchanged, the increased power of your shots and your gradually growing comfort throwing punches helps you know you’re doing better.
Time marches forward and you can feel your form improving even more. Your punches gain momentum and velocity. Both the speed and power of your attacks are improving exponentially. The punching bag absorbs your bombs with indifference, yet you see it swing and shake sporadically. The number of strikes you string together begins to improve and although not every shot is completely accurate or precise, you know you’re putting in work. The rhythmic sound of vinyl smashing into vinyl is almost therapeutic; the sound of the large, heavy chain connected to the bag being forced to jerk around brings a slight smirk to your face.
Time rolls on and you can feel your speed and power moving the bag with ease. The vinyl of the bag is unscathed and still in pristine condition, yet the speed and raw ferocity of your punches is causing it to shake violently. You throw a barrage of combinations effortlessly-your hands move vigorously and tenaciously, each shot echoes through the annals of the dark and empty gym. Your shadow dances on the walls next to you; it would appear to an uninformed bystander as if Peter Pan’s shadow is fencing with a large wall, each strike causing it to shake and rattle. While the bag weathers the storm without flinching, you feel strong and confident.
Time rages on and your form improves even more. You realize while the hellish deluge of powerful and quick shots in rapid succession is invigorating, keeping up such a pace for an extended period time is unreasonable. You begin to string together shorter combinations while maintaining your speed and power; your precision increases significantly. Each shot feels impactful, as if it carries the force to be the haymaker which wins the world title. Each blow is strategic, precise. While the bag takes each punch without interest, the sound of vinyl clashing with vinyl reverberates throughout the facility. Your form is stupendous and you realize this is what true confidence feels like.
Time moves swiftly and you can feel yourself starting to fatigue. You aren’t exhausted-far from it-but you can feel your muscles starting to grow weary. To conserve energy, you throw less frequent combinations, electing to throw sporadic, powerful bombs which move the bag with each impact. While the bag shrugs off each salvo you launch, your precision is enviable and you know each strike is meaningful. Accuracy is key and you know you’re making each strike count.
Time makes haste and your breath grows heavy. Your punches begin to lose their accuracy and you feel your power begin to slip. Strikes begin to emulate the poor form from when you began your time at the bag. You know you can do better than this, but after the bombardment of strikes you’ve unleashed upon the sack of vinyl and sand, you can no longer find the unparalleled speed and power you maintained previously. Your shots-while still accurate-no longer send the bag swinging with vigorous inertia. The bag consumes your final punches with disinterest and you clinch the large mass of vinyl and sand. The weight feels abnormal in your arms; too heavy, too large, too slippery for your tired and sweaty arms. You rest your tired head against the immaculate vinyl momentarily to steady the chain supporting it and keep it from swinging too far.
You feel as if you’ve been productive, and you’re satisfied with the work you’ve put in. You toss your gloves aside and immediately begin analyzing each shot you threw; you love the progress you made but know if your form had been pristine from the beginning, each shot would’ve been more impactful, more meaningful. You begin to unwrap your hands and stare at the large punching bag in the corner, still swaying slightly from the final shots you delivered and your brief embrace. The vinyl looks as shiny and new as the first time you laid eyes on it, but you know you put in work and progressed. You glance at the clock; your time in the gym on this fine evening has come to an end. Weary and worn, you begin to make your way to the door.