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A thick, rubbery smell, combined with the unmistakable stench of sweat surrounds the early risers in the UFC gym. A bright red wrestling mat, glistening with sweat, challenges fighters to spar with their coaches as soon as they enter, followed by an octagonal cage, inviting only the daring and fierce to step in. From the comparatively less noisy section towards the left of the cage, float only low grunts and the sound of vibrating weights. In comparison, the right side of the cage houses nearly thirty-five boxing bags and a dozen sweaty, panting individuals. A lean boxing coach enjoys his time advising various individuals by the punching bags; near the weight equipment, a fitness instructor helps people of all sizes perfect their lifting form which contrasts the tall kick-boxing instructor, who brawls inside the octagonal cage.
A boxing coach floats around in his grey joggers and navy blue t-shirt, reading “Hustle,” from person to person and motivates them to keep pushing their limits. He pushes that the people do the various exercises quicker and motivates whoever slows down. Following an intense warm-up, the coach shows the eager learners how to throw a certain kick-boxing combo. After a long three minutes, he demands everyone to perform jumping jacks, rock-climbers and various other exercises back-to-back, followed by another complex, yet effortlessly displayed combo. Three tiresome repetitions later, the group is asked to move over to a long red turf track, where the rest of the brutal exercises take place. After another effortless display of the agenda, the coach begins to feel the rhythm of his own music playlist and follows with a couple of swift dance moves to refresh everyone’s spirit.
On the less active side of the gym, a muscular fitness instructor gathers his weight equipment to keep the area "trip-free." After the short clean up, he spots a husky squatter who appears to be lifting the weight of two average teenagers, combined. After some loud motivation from the chiseled fitness instructor, the bear-like man, with a furious exhale, pushes the huge weight plates up and on the rack. The instructor then steps away after patting him on the back and starts helping and guiding a lady for her workout. He shows her exactly how he wants her lunges to look and feel like, and then provides critical improvements she can make. After repeating this with several hard workers, he takes a break and leaves the gym.
Contrasting the orderly movements of a workout, two fighters, one of whom is a slender yet tough kick-boxing coach, brawl in the eight-sided steel cage, and try to take down the other in a furious three minute round. The coach seems to be taking it easy on the fighter and only fights back when he is in danger of a takedown. After a fatiguing round, the individuals take a quick break and return back to brawling for another seemingly "hour-long" three minutes. After they pantingly finish five rounds, their energy lacking fists throw themselves towards each other for a fist bump. They approve of each other's effort and leave the ring.
All in all, this gym represents something different compared to the others. It represents countless hours people spend trying to perfect self-defense skills and learning new ones along the way. The various disciplines of martial arts are taught to eager, intensity loving individuals. A place where people voluntarily come to get punched and kicked, so they can learn to defend themselves in a hostile situation, and effectively defeat fear itself.