Conversations with your CKO Bag

March 20, 2019
Your CKO Bag Awaits

Your bag has a lot to say. Creating the perfect dialogue with that 135lb workout partner of yours can have a lasting positive impact on your workout.

So, you’re hearing voices, huh? It’s okay to admit. No one thinks you’re crazy. Everyone hears voices. They can go a little something like this:

‘Just Breathe.’

‘Take Your Time.’

‘You Got This.’

‘I’m gonna lose it. I’m totally gonna lose it. Okay. Whew. Count to ten. One..two..three..UGH! TEN TAKES FOREVER!!! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!!’

Perhaps that last one wasn’t a success, but you get the idea.


Those voices that you, and everyone for that matter, hear in your head are simply you talking to yourself. Referred to as self-talk these “verbalizations or statements addressed to the self” can be spoken out loud or internally. And there have been numerous studies conducted on self-talk, specifically the influence that self-talk has on sports accomplishments.

Back to the voices. It’s pretty normal for you to go to the gym and self-talk. It’s that voice in your head that tells you one more rep, one more kick, one more push up and so on. These statements you make to yourself have a purpose, as “both instructional and motivational self-talk have been shown to enhance performance” (Van Raalte, J. L., Vincent, A.) And who doesn’t want that, right?

But sometimes there’s another voice, lurking in the gym’s midst.

You may look around, thinking, ‘Am I nuts?’ You check all four corners wondering, ‘What is that voice and where is it coming from?’

Look in front of you, you spinning backhand master. It’s you vs. the bag, right? So, it can only be coming from that guy.

That large hanging mass has a lot to say and other than you, is the only thing standing between you and the success of your workout. What that bag says can be your make or break. So listen closely. What is your bag telling you and is it the right workout partner for you?



Bag A’s Favorite Phrases: ‘That all you got?’ ‘You call that a jab?’ ‘You can’t do it.”

You have to be careful with this one. He may try to display his power over you with his words. But they are just words and they only have meaning if you give them meaning. It’s what you do with the words, and how they affect your workout, that matters

You may prefer his killjoy attitude because it motivates you to prove him wrong. If you don’t feel disheartened by him, then, by all means, use this bag.

He’s giving you the ability to show him that you’re a force to be reckoned with. With every move he thinks you can’t do, you do it harder, faster and longer. He pisses you off enough to take everything you have inside you, and then some, and lay it on the bag.

With every strike, every grit of your teeth, every ounce of sweat pouring out of you, you show him what you’re made of.

If you don’t like what he is saying, then tune him out.

“Interventions such as thought stopping, thought replacement, and self-talk journaling are… designed for the purpose of enhancing performance by making an athlete’s self-talk more positive.”

Instead focus on the music, your form, or your CKO instructor. Or take charge by changing the subject and your relationship. If you feel that this type of bag-talk is hindering your performance, it may be time for a new relationship.

Maybe BAG B is more your style.



Bag B’s Favorite Phrases: ‘You got this!’ ‘Keep going!’ ‘Push yourself!”

For some people, “negative self-talk increases motivation and performance,” however it “is generally detrimental to sport performance.” (Van Raalte, J. L., Vincent, A.) Enter the supportive bag. The encouraging one.

He’s the one who fills you with positivity and possibility. He will ask you for a lot but he also knows you have a lot to give.

‘Wow! What a hook you got there’ is a phrase you can expect from him. His positive reinforcement keeps you feeling good, motivated and proud of every little accomplishment.

He is your coach, your mentor. He steps in to be your source of inspiration when you need it most. Yes, he may push back on you and he may be heavy to lift, but it’s for your own good. He may seem a little harsh at times, but you know that he is there to push you to be your best.

Though he expects a lot from you, he is with you all the way, cheering you on, saying, “Yes, you can!” You hear his words plain as day and almost envision him smiling and nodding in approval of you and your drive. You’re not alone in this fight. He is your teammate and he will always be there for you, telling you to keep going.



So, think about your bag. What do you need from him? How do your conversations go?

Does he tell you that you can or can’t? How you respond is up to you! And if you don’t like what he has to say, the bag next to you is ready and waiting, happy to have you.

It’s interesting that, though every gym-goer may be taking the same class, they are doing so for various reasons. Some come to get out their stress while others come to improve their overall health. Others come to build muscle while others come to escape the hard battles they are fighting in their personal lives.

No matter the reason for being there this bag gives you what you need, telling you what you need to hear. He lets you jab, cross and front kick the crap out of him. Even when you bag push him away, he always swings back to you, ready and willing to give you more.


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Article written by Kimberly Oley, CKO Contributing Author and CKO Member since 2015!