Tag Archives: balance

ballet-inspired: core


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The other half of me: Link here! Thank you for reading. 🙂

-Pennington

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Ballet Training Life



Ballet Training thus far has been a really interesting journey.  It’s about 4 months (or a little more) and I’ve grown to take immense pleasure in Ballet Beautiful (and other Ballet Conditioning work I’ve come across).  I always liked Ballet, but I can appreciate it more now that I perform Ballet-inspired movement (and some actual Ballet exercises).

Ballet has been very tricky in some areas like getting the form down.  There’s a lot going on most of the time – movements come from all angles and are done simultaneously at the same time.  For example: Picture yourself balancing on one leg while the other leg is in midair lifting up/down/sideways/bending or performing large circles while you swaying your arms up/down/side/waving.  It’s challenging and the focus needed has to surpass 100%.


There’s a lot of balance and concentration involve, but it’s all good because I’m a special kind of woman who’s built for this with my work ethics.  I have the capacity to push myself beyond my mind’s or body’s limitations especially since I have to deal with burning arches and aching cores throughout each exercise.  Not to mention dealing with borderline cramping even if you’re simply bending or stretching to one side or backwards without arching the spine.

There’s also the act of practicing stability and working through a super intense muscle burn along with having super muscle control.  What I enjoy the most is getting through the first exercise sequence of 4 sets in counts of 8’s at a rapid pace because the exercises are so difficult particularly Ballet Beautiful that for you to finish without pausing is a HUGE accomplishment.  And although there’s a lot to learn I’m keeping my mind and body open as I carry on flexibility in every technique and exercise I approach.

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I benefit from using different muscles than what I’m used to.  The techniques and exercises I’m performing have further enlightened my sense of physical awareness for instance engaging the center.  I currently pull in through the center even when I do dishes or take a shower.  Back then the only time I engaged my core was during a weightlifting session since it’s very important to do when you’re Deadlifting, performing the Military Press and Barbell Squatting.  Sometimes I think my core is lacking, but I think the only reason why I think this is because of the fat on top.  There’s nothing wrong with my core – it’s much stronger than I give it credit for.

There’s also the ease of gaining lower back, hip inner/outer, glutes and ankle flexibility.  As is, there are positions (including Yoga) where I couldn’t get the top of my foot flat and now I’ve made gains where I can flatten my foot another centimeter or a full inch – which is outstanding as FUCK!  To get this foot and ankle where I want it to be has been a mission.  I’ve been given the wrong information from stupid surgeons saying if I can’t make any gains in 6 months to a year from the accident then I won’t be able to make any improvements.  However, since Ballet Beautiful I’m making tiny gains after a year and naturally this makes me very happy.  Plus I’ll take any miniature gain I can get.

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There’s the minimizing of cellulite behind the back of my upper thigh right under the glutes and no matter how many lunges I’ve done in the past that’s been something hard to knock off when you have extra weight on.  I have extra weight but the cellulite is still minimized like some kind of magic trick.  The best part is (although I don’t need it) I’ve received an even higher instantaneous butt lift at the same time my cellulite is disappearing.  In the beginning I was scared of losing my curves with Ballet Beautiful, but I haven’t lost any – it’s all being enhanced.

As far as the flexibility is concerned, well I’m back to the flexibility and have even surpassed the flexibility in certain poses (including yoga).  Holy crap!  You don’t even understand how awesome this is for me as I used to stretch intensely for an hour, and sometimes overstretch to the point where I would actually hurt my muscles and couldn’t stretch for a week or more.  I used to think I have to stretch at least 5 times a week in order to get to where I want to be (one of the goals is a front/middle split), but it’s not true.  Ballet Beautiful is magical when it comes to simply just performing exercises and having you become flexible within the process where lengthening happens literally overnight.  I will say – better flexibility also means better sex.  (I apologize.  I had to throw this in here.)

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I love exercises that are different and difficult.  So it intrigues me very much to perform exercises that have a lot of internal and external rotations.  I’m carving out the larger muscles I’ve built over the years simply by building all the small muscles and vice versa.  This creates an even better and more efficient foundation.  I like having to create and work for better isometric contractions.  I like that there are new rules I have to learn like rounding my back during exercises or going through a full extension through the knee as opposed to never locking out like weightlifting and bodybuilding.

I like leveling up my fitness and I enjoy cross-training again.  I like being introduced to a whole wide world of new muscles.  I like feeling as if with less weightlifting – I’m allowing my body to become more symmetrical.  I’m decreasing size (mass/bulk) and even bodyfat at a pace I didn’t think would be possible with my exceptionally low thyroid and such.  And did I mention my posture?  It’s also changed immediately!

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Just like weightlifting – ballet exercises give me the feeling of constant motion in physical existence as well as completeness in the present moment within the body.  To close this long entry I’m still learning everything I’m sensing from head to toe with Ballet Beautiful.  This is one reason why trying to write about my Ballet Training has been different as I feel these entries don’t flow as well as I wanted to.  I digress.. I believe I’ve exceeded the phase of novelty, so this isn’t a phase I’m going through and I’m into ballet-inspired workouts which is not to be confused with actual dance ballet and such.

Happy Training everyone!

-Pennington

Assigned


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I’m too cold.
But, I’m not callous.
I believe I’m meant to be alone,
Even though
My deck of cards contain malice.
I have a heart of gold
Because I believe in
Good balance.

What do you say?
I’m cerebral.
Do you pray?
Or fight against evil?
I can be your part-time hero.
And even then
I will let you down
By being in the middle.

And what do you say?
I’m detached, dislodged.
I don’t belong here.
I’m only a fog.
I’m a burn in a throat –
A clear strict scotch.
An aftershock full of scars,
Just you watch.

And what can I say?
I want a young sharp mind.
I want it primed, full of rhymes
And perfectly timed.
I want to cuddle with an objective book.
You can join me,
But get your own.
I prefer when things are assigned.

-Pennington

Break a Sweat in a Different Way


aeon_flux_by_lucirgoI’m a big believer in doing things differently in life every few weeks, months or years as it shows maturity and continual personal development.  I carry this thought process in every aspect of life – especially fitness.  I like to switch things up all the time.  I can’t even do the same workout twice in one week unless I’m no good at something and I need to improve to make a set of gains I find to be necessary.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in everyday routines because it doesn’t take much conscious effort.  A routine and few redundant examples are: Traveling the same way to work, spending quality time in the same exact way with your kids, knowing what your partner is going to do later on tonight in the bedroom and using the same training program your uncle wrote you when you were like fifteen years old.  Being on auto-pilot is safe on one end, but dangerous to your health and depressing in another.

This leads me to being a big believer in changing my workouts.  (I despise doing the same workout twice even in one month.)  On top of my weightlifting workouts, I now have reintroduced a lot of things I used to do because I must keep it funky fresh and because my ankle has made some gains.  Some of these workouts are total body circuits, dance fitness, ballet, Yoga, Kenpo X and Pilates just to name a few.

These workouts on top of the strength-training aren’t JUST because I want to lose weight or gain a better core or reintroduce balance again, but it’s because my metabolism is sluggish since I broke my ankle a mere year ago and have gained weight.  I’ve notice in the past – when I want to kickstart my body and have it be a fat-burning machine my body needs something different.  My body needs something out of left field in order for it to start responding in the way that I like.  I believe it’s partly due to having a low thyroid as well as my dietary intake – it’s not the best or the worst.

And this is where my theory comes in, and why I’ve chosen to once again mix my workouts heavily.  I have twelve years of weightlifting under my belt and some of my fibers are used to this weightlifting plan.  This means that focusing on the strength-training aspect to pick up my sluggish metabolism initially doesn’t work for me.  It’ll actually work against me since my body is already used to picking up steel and putting them down.  So, my body needs a different shock.

It’s not a wonder why over time one has to overload their muscles to the point of no return, and that’s simply to make a small gain.  It’s easy to gain muscle in the first 3 years, but after that it becomes harder and harder to make the gains AND at a quicker pace.  I believe that on one end, weightlifting for twelve years has hurt me in some respects, and in others it has blessed me.  I’m restarting from a different place where I had mobility, balance, proprioception, strong fibers and a decent metabolism for the longest time.  Now I’m working to gain each and every one of these back and much stronger than before.

In my partner’s words, “You’re getting sleeker”, but it’s not necessarily due to the weightlifting at the moment, it’s due to everything else my body isn’t used to handling.  I laugh hysterically whenever I pick up 3lb-10lb dumbbells and have a tough time doing a difficult exercise and am not allowed to perform reps and sets that constitute ego lifting.  I’m humbled every time I perform the Swan Arm Ballet Workout and Bun Shaper wanting to cry from the scorch I feel throughout my body, yet I can do 100lbs and more of Barbell Hip Thrusts for 4-5 sets on a working bench with no problem.

Because the fact remains that the things your body is good at and is used to – you can do it forever without breaking a sweat; however the things your body isn’t used to – you can only do for a small amount of time and break under the sweat of a new raging world.  I know I love to do things I’m good at.  (How about you?)  I know that I hate to make myself look bad or stupid or like I’m not strong enough in front of others.  But that’s just fear, embarrassment and ego talking.

This also comes from a place where one doesn’t want to evolve because of fear, but making the conscious effort and having the desire of wanting to excel despite looking silly, or knowing you’re going to fail and such leads to maturity and personal growth.  We learn more about ourselves from adversity than we do when we’re full of joy and happiness.

In hindsight, breaking a new sweat because you opted to do something different will break you (people) out of your (their) safe routine life.  And in turn, will break you out of your plateau – yes this includes fitness – the kind of plateau YOU (they) weren’t even aware about.

Happy Training folks! 😉

-Pennington

Distorted Gauge


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Since February I’ve had a pattern of working out straight for 2 weeks (multiple workouts) and the next 2 weeks I’ll idly be standing by wishing hard on a star that I could unearth the motivation I require to make muscle gains and decrease body weight/bodyfat – as well as gaining that feeling of being normal again (after breaking my ankle) while increasing my sexiness also.

Fast-forward to May I made my debut in the gym 9 months later.  I thought being at my second home would give me all the motivation I needed – that being around the energy of like-minded folks would get my desire burning high.  But the truth is most of those folks in the gym wouldn’t know what it’s like to be me.  And currently speaking, I’m not sure what it’s fully like to be me anymore.  I’ve been transitioning into the unknown on a myriad trip.

Ever since I broke my ankle, my existence has changed.  Everything has become distorted, painful, effervescent, unique, spiritual or unidentified.  I still have complications, and I must obtain a second and third opinion from new surgeons, in order to gain some knowledge, so things are less unknown.

However, things have changed rapidly, and now I can set up back in the gym, but I’m intimidated simply by stepping on the elliptical machine, even though I force myself, so I don’t look like a scared cat in front of others.  Aside from the intimidation, I have constant shooting pains in my foot and they go upwards and I visualize these pains as shooting stars that go into the cosmos of my calves – and I wonder why I’m in a gym at all? And one glance at the chin up assisted machine and it looks like a skyscraper both mentally and physically – how am I to climb it without being frighten on the descending part for I can slip and break my ankle again?

I feel the anxiety of nerves freeze me in place in the center of the gym and I hope nobody notices my own little drama and sense of defeat.  I hope no one notices and this is why I cover myself with an overbearing hoodie to hide behind.  I’m overweight by my standards and I don’t know how I’m not myself anymore?  I am not the gym rat I used to know.  And should I be this gym obsessed person just because I’ve been one for over a decade?  Should I act as if nothing changed when everything changed in my life?  Or should I act as if everything changed as it did and proceed accordingly?

The next month I wrestled with doubling and tripling workouts in a single day at the gym despite my innermost disruptive sentiments.  I wanted to believe I can work through this by moving forward and forcing myself on these machines that used to be my favorite friends.  I do what common people do and bring guests with me so we can workout for the purpose of keeping accountable and motivated.  Well, I burned myself out in a month and a half.  I believe I did this subconsciously until the real answer tore from its denial system and decided to surface: I disliked going to the gym.

There are things I can’t do at the moment that I miss so much like Walking Lunges or Single Stiff-Legged Deadlifts. I can’t bend my foot in half without my arch giving way to a pain quite massive that I lose all hope in working out at all.  I don’t have the balance to stay on one foot for more than 20 seconds on a good day.  And I do focus on all the things I could do like push ups, shoulder presses, seated rows and such, but not even this keeps me motivated.  The next month in the middle of June I told all my guests I can no longer go to the gym 5-6 times a week which includes the multiple sessions in a day.  I’m breaking up with the gym for a little while.  I can probably go once or twice a week on the days where my mood is as bright as the sun.  I need a mental and physical breakthrough, and until this time comes I’ve changed gears.

Now I’m back at home with workouts.  I don’t have to hide from anyone, but myself (at times).  I feel freer and am creative with the dumbbells and barbell I have at home.  I pressure myself less on who I used to be since I’m not that person in and out the gym right now.  I have different goals, and one starts with the shape of my mentality.  Side notes consist of:  Taking turns doing multiple sessions in a single day from Wii Fit, fitness DVD’s and writing my own strength-training programs.  Home workouts seem to be more intense especially when mixed with less rest time.

One day I can go hard on my body, whether it is my Legs or Yoga, and the next day I have to pull back the reigns because the sour pain in my ankle won’t let up.  It all becomes about creating balance.  It all becomes about my preparation now for when I do go back to the gym with a body and mind-frame that would be better than even the person I used to know.  I’m a different person now, and this is a fact.  I have a different body now – another fact.  And what remains is that I’m just in the midst of trying to figure everything out in the meantime.

To be continued.. work in progress.

-Pennington

Vital Home


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I stretch long and strong and wide like a rainbow.  I have my colors back from my fair complexion – and the ones I deem underneath my skin – muscles.  I bask once again in the glory of my religion at the gym; eight months later after being snatch up from a break and fall accident.  I’m finally home.  And I welcome myself back with the eyes and psyche of a new foundation and fresh perspective that glitters like gold from the inside out with positivity and nourishment that stems from redefining everything in my life.

It’s been a long while – shy of four months to make a full year.  But now, I’m in my happy place where endorphins give way to my bipolar lows so I can obtain a high again.  The gym is where I center myself, where I create the magic concoction to establish balance and management of my historic chemical imbalances.  It’s where I get to feel the rush of heat on my chubby cheeks and where I get to unleash my every day aggression.  It’s where I thrive on the blood that swirls in burn and ache in every direction from the temple of my body and mind.

I’m once again grateful for all the higher powers that be for allowing me to feel my muscles with hurt on every movement I push without limits.  I enjoy each turn as I wince out of delight from a rotation where my oblique contracts and I involve myself in the flashback of yesterday:  Engaging full integrity on a few hours of work.  Because for a while I forgot how soreness felt.  I forgot about the subtle peaks in muscles.  I forgot about the way those peaks slowly raise with fever over the course of the night and the next forty-eight hours heavy with temper – delayed onset muscular soreness.

The truth is:  I can live with every part of my body given to the brutal pain of a committed lift.  I can dedicate my entire life to infinite repetitions.  I can die happy on my last breath being exerted against the resistance of iron, and the cerebral connection vital for my mental, spiritual and emotional therapy.  I mean, after all is said and done, the gym is a home dedicated to self-love, despite the general mundane (and sometimes) pieces of a day to day.  This is where my importance lies and one of the many things that gives my life character, spirit, purpose and beauty.

-Pennington

The (New) Affair of Jogging


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Tonight I broke in my Saucony running sneakers.

I haven’t attempted jogging or running since last summer, mostly because I was going to do a 5K Obstacle Race and after that race (which sadly I didn’t get to do because I showed up 3 minutes late) I had zero motivation to continue jogging or running.  Still, a desire aches deep within.  This evening, during my initial 5 minute walk on the Treadmill I felt like I was strolling, cushioned by eternal clouds all around my tender feet and ankles; how lost I felt within instant change from my regular cross-training battered Nike sneakers.  With a Cheshire-cat grin on my face I said, “I can get used to these clouds,” just when my mind shotgun me a warning, “Better not get comfortable, you’re going to need every ounce of yourself tonight.  We’re starting back at square one.”

And this entry won’t be about every little thing I did (although I’ll add a little in for the sake of healthy reminders and anew celebration), but of some observations I learned this evening.  I’m happy because although my body was already exhausted from the burdens of continual soreness, I fought for every minute I walked and every minute I jogged.  And even though I couldn’t finish strong with the pace of 5.5 towards the ending, I placed extra mileage (4.5 speed) on these sneakers and feet because I want nothing to stop me.

The small moments of invincibility I’ll take on any day in which I battled long, hard and steady for.  Towards the last countdown of the game, over the hill of more than 3 and a half miles I gave myself a few fist pumps and thumbs up even if people thought I was a crazy loser at the rear Treadmills.  But I earned the crown of headache-jogging and for a moment, I earned the world of guts once again.

I took in quite a few observations about jogging and getting close to the ideal of going at a running pace for my short legs which stopped at a 5.5 speed.  The most basic observation being the amount of focus I have to demand and generate at sheer will.  I have a habit of looking down at my feet/legs or even at the numbers increasing or decreasing on cardio machines at the gym.  But looking down takes my focus away from jogging and allows my mind to drift even when I don’t want it too.

At one point I had to decrease the 5.5 to 5.3 because I could sense my balance being off track and I was going to no doubt bust my ass if I continued on that speed.  I lowered it for a moment to regain my focus again and not look down at my feet or try to change my music on the ipod.  Instead I just stared up at the television where the label on the board wrote out: TNT.  OH!  And every now and again, I stared at this flamboyant guy who jogged worse than flailing wrist forward females, in which, put my mind at ease about being a self-conscious beginner jogger.

The other observation was about the need to relax myself while trying to find the poise of fluidity and balance.  I don’t make any excuses for my body fat or the solid muscle I do have on my structure.  But with both the fat and muscle generally it’s difficult for me to feel relaxed and/or light.  I’m on edge even when I sit down on a train reading a good book and my hands are close to bunching in a fist and my arms are never fully extended because of tension I hold tightly to my body.  The small moments when I do feel light, it’s a rarity, kind of like allowing myself to trust in a stranger; unfamiliar territory, needless to say along with grandeur vulnerability.

So, in turn, having to trust myself while learning how to loosen up and let go throughout jogging is a test I must study to overcome.  I’ve come a long way with this, as well, because when I first attempted jogging and running years ago, it wasn’t until I took off my headphones that I heard the loud thunder of my feet hitting the Treadmill belt.  Apparently, I was a little too good when it came to stomping and probably better at hurting my joints in the process.  Tonight I focused and auto-suggested to myself how I’m light as a feather and balance become me.  There were clear moments of fluidity and of a highness that offered itself to me in the form of joy and glide.

Short side note here:  There’s nothing like jogging when it comes to my body.  I wonder if it’s due to the fact that I’m inefficient at it currently.  But, seriously, nothing taxes my body like a jog or short run.  Nothing!  I wonder if I’m one of those people who aren’t built for jogging or running and if it’s something I could just be spinning my wheels on?

Another observation or rather, a question balloons:  How soon is too soon to push beyond the limits of what I think I can perceive?  I’m aware of my body in many areas, but there are moments when I can never be too careful (aside from thinking the worse fantasies of falling on the Treadmill and somehow splitting my kneecap open).  I know my body well enough to know I need at least a 5 minute warm up before jogging.  Then I could only jog or attempt running for 5-7 minutes at a time because anymore than that and my left shin starts to give out.  So I walk for 5 and jog for 5 minutes and repeated this until the point where my body is getting tired, but it seems like my mind gets tired at the same time as my body.  Actually, it’s hard to know which is fatiguing first.

However, my lungs can handle it well and my legs have done more than enough strength-training and Plyometrics to where they don’t tire as quickly as someone who’s never done that type of training before.  But my feet aren’t strong and neither are my shins when I compare them to my lungs and the rest of my legs.  Eventually the shin splints and dead feet start to weigh me down.  This usually takes anywhere from a total of 20-30 minutes of jogging.  (Again, I’ve never been consistent with jogging.)  Tonight I had this feeling where my legs seemed to outdo my brain and it was running quicker than I thought I could; running so much I had to decrease the speed as my stability once again was getting out of control and I was going to fall.  So, finding the balance (that has nothing to do with the mind/body itself), but of my limitation is another challenge.

It took me approximately one month and a half to break in my running sneakers.  This is a fresh new start to the world of jogging and running for me.  This time I want to be consistent.  I’ve made up my mind long ago to be well-rounded when it comes to fitness.  I don’t only want to be good at one thing and nothing can replace my first love of dumbbells and weight-training.  Still, I want to be good at multiple things fitness-related.  Originally the goal was to run for a total of 30 minutes.  I came up short and reached 25 minutes.  I added an extra 5 minutes even though I felt like I had barely anything else to give because my body was failing me right from the beginning as my chest, traps, shoulders, back and lower abs were and still are completely sore from a workout the other night.  I felt this made the jog excruciating in a sense.  Nevertheless, I most likely prefer it to be this way.

Next time I’ll see if I could push more or at the least get better time while having my body on much fresher and recovered terms.   After my delightful jog (the only thing that gets me sweaty in no time and for some reason also gives me water retention the longer I go), I stretched for 35-40 minutes.  That’s one of the worthwhile benefits I found with jogging; the stretch after is remarkable as my entire body had zero choice in the matter, but to yield to laxity.

This is just the beginning of something different.

-Pennington

This Past Week


The only workout I got in was Shoulders and Biceps on Monday.

We are now heading into Friday.  (It’s Thursday 4:05am.)  And though I know I can’t have good weeks every single time, despite how much I desire.  I have to learn when it’s in my best interest to take a time-out and relax.  I do not wish to go beating myself up over and over and over again over a few missed workouts.  Life happens and this is where obtaining some sort of balance is required.

I can stand still nowadays and think back to all those fond and strenuous memories where I’ve pushed myself during times I shouldn’t have.  It’s either brought me bittersweet irritation from overtraining, a terrible sickness like a sinus infection or minor/major setbacks that would only fuck me to not progressing as smoothly as I would have liked.  However in this case, my monthly red friend comes to pay a visit.

Ms. Red Riding Hood!

There have been many months where I’ve push through my most vigorous workouts through my menstrual flow.  Mostly to prove to the inevitable negative self-talk wrong!  And of course, there are other reasons as follows:  To break through another barrier of my life, never allow my body to be too comfortable and gaining mental toughness through a better track record of performing my training sessions despite what I’m undergoing.

And this was one of those weeks as I had two great episodes of cramps from my monstrous period.  This is the time where my head feels heavy with mood, sludgy and muddy on my shoulders.  It feels like depression, something ancient as Reptilians.  This is the time where each of my breasts feel like 20lbs, where I feel like I’m openly carrying a full cart of luggage right in front of me for the money-celebrity folks.  This is the time where I bloat fatter than a frog, fatter than the hogs who are submitted to eating grains and grains til their eyes are about to pop.

The last thing I want to do is move.  The last thing I want to do is be conscious.  The last thing I want to do is eat.  The last thing I want to do is have fun.  The last thing I want to do is train.

Sometimes it’s just one of those weeks out of the month, out of the year.  And I’m not going to fight this every single month.  I’ve acknowledge this and I’m doing my best to control, forgive and handle the situation correctly.  Sometimes the best bet for me is to surrender.  I’ll look at the brighter side of things like extra recovery time, extra freshness my muscles will undertake when it’s time to get back in the gym and hit it all over again like a maniac.

And with this, I tell myself it’s okay.
Everything’s going to be okay.

Pennington