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The Gym

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The gym where I train and workout, the Dubuque Martial Arts Group, is a place where I know who I am. It is a place I can go to escape my problems for a while and release some stress. It's not the actual physical building, but rather the events that have occurred there over the years. It's where I have formed some of my closest friendships. It is the place I have invested years of hard work for many of my accomplishments. To some it may seem odd that a place associated with sweat, blood and physical pain mean so much to someone. However, in my eyes it's almost like a second home.

A certain familiarity is developed over time that makes it home. Sitting here I can vividly picture being there. I drive my car into the pot-hole filled parking lot off the highway and park in the same spot I always have, people just seem to know that's my spot. Walking around to the back I open the brown door and enter. The familiar damp smell of sweat still pierces my nose when I walk into the hallway even after all these years. The rhythmic beating of the speedbag and clanging of the punching bag hanging from the ceiling echo through the hall. When I walk into the gym I see our instructor Dean with his long dreads sitting at his desk talking on the phone. It sounds as if he is trying to set up some fights for us. I turn my head to the left and see everyone doing their own thing. Chris is kicking the stuffing out of the heavy bag, he thinks he's such a bad-ass. Mitch and Don are goofing around as if they were fifteen, even though they're almost forty. Stretching out is Cara, she's the only female fighter but I wouldn't mess with her.

I head to the locker room to change my clothes. In the locker room are Dan and Jason. I say hello an...

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...ng side of it tend to invest much more time and effort into what we do there. Therefore we spend a lot more time together than with any of the others. A unique bond forms between us. We are almost like a family. We know what each of us goes through while we are there. We all know what it feels like to work ourselves to exhaustion night after night in preparation for a fight. We know the dread of waking up before the suns up to run. We know the feeling of stepping into the ring in front of a thousand pairs of eyes looking only at you. We know what it feels like to look across the ring and stare into the eyes of a man who would like nothing better than to knock you out cold. We know the adrenaline rush followed by the ring of the bell. Only we feel the pride accompanied when our hand is raised in victory, or the disappointment of having it left hanging in defeat.
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