Tag Archives: Ballet Beautiful

Updated Aspects (Training)


Shanna comic

The other half of this blog is here entitled Updated Aspect (Life) if interested.

Lately I’ve been having trouble getting into the gym to get in more cardio work.  Lifting has never been a problem once I enter the gym with my mind in the zone, scowl and broad shoulders.  Still, the emphasis is cardio because I have a lot of weight to lose by my standards.  This bad habit started when my ankle broke and when I isolated myself from the world.  I tried going back to the gym to be the fitness buff I was, but nothing was the same.  It was me against trauma, coming to terms with mental illness and recovering from the worst year of my life.

Nevertheless I needed to feel a rush; I needed to balance out the chemicals in my brain somehow.  I wanted to feel alive again.  I wanted to feel my body in motion, so I learned pretty quickly how to workout at home.  I looked at the upsides of home workouts:  not being bothered by anyone or anything.  Working out at home was safe and therefore it became my retreat.  I never thought I’d make fitness at home my full-time job.  I never thought I would pay a subscription to stream videos.  I also never thought I’d canceled a gym membership after being a gym-goer for 13 years.

Of course a month and a half later my headspace was in a much better place after I canceled the gym membership, but it still took a year and a half for me to get back into the gym a few times a week.  Still, a dilemma hovered big as an elephant – getting to the gym on a regular basis seem to be a problem.  This is also something I’ve never had before.  I started feeling like one of those average people.  I’ve never felt gym ordinary before.  I’ve always been the one to rise above the starting point.  Again, nothing is the same.  I’m in no rush to lose weight, which is very unlike me.  I used to drop 8lbs in a month, month after month like I was going to compete somewhere on stage.  Not this time.

The bright side is when I do go to the gym my adrenaline takes over and I forget about the time or when’s the last time I ate or what else I have to do after I stroll out the gym at midnight.  I don’t stop until I have nothing more in the tank – my usual – and I thank God that’s still the same to this day.  My mind-muscle connection is even more in depth, which I find both absurd and incredible.  I’m starting to believe for the first time in my life that less can actually be more.

I’ve changed my training style again.  I used to move around heavy weight all the time.  I toned it down.  I used to do a lot of volume.  I can’t say I toned that down.  Right now I’m focused on basic exercises (not unique ones) and variations of the basics.  I like working with my bodyweight.  I leave the isolated movements and core training for Ballet Beautiful and other Ballet-inspired workouts.  I do tons of unilateral sets since my accident – I still feel an imbalance within my body.  I do pump out high reps; mostly because I was always a 5-10 rep woman.  But how will my body react long-term when the switch has been/is 20 reps and over?  I also do strength-training at home in circuit-training fashion at least 2 times a s week.  Also, twerking which is a fun way to do cardio at home.

I notice other things I don’t do anymore in the gym I used to do is scout out who I wanted to compete with for poundages or on cardio machines.  At this moment, I don’t have the urge to compete with anyone anymore because I’m in my own groove and free in my own zone.  This is both good and bad.  Good because fuck everybody else in the gym – I’m here for me yet bad because you can always get extra drive and push yourself further when you and the stranger are knowingly competing with one another.

So, what about this gym ordinary thing?  I’ve been giving thought to what I have to do to make sure I get into the gym at least 2-3 times a week every month.  I shouldn’t be comparing myself to the 5-6 times a week of cardio I used to do especially because I’m not feeling it.  At the moment, I don’t want to live in the gym like I used to.  I want to perform more than the minimum, but live out of the gym.  But, what can I do differently?  What did I used to do before to get in the gym multiple times a week for hours at a time?

Well, for one I didn’t make excuses.  Two, I always made sure to established good work ethic every single time I stepped foot in any gym.  Three I would think about the professional fitness enthusiasts and how busy their lives are and just how they make time to get their cardio in multiples times a week.  If they could do it, so could I.  Four, I need to create a set routine, one I can’t easily get out of and also with at least 3-4 back up plans just like I used to do.

However, I think I kept this long enough.  Also, I’m open to suggestions.  Please don’t say running, jogging or walking because I’ll cut you with my ankle bone.  Walking still hurts me and this is one of the main reasons I go to the gym to do cardio because I can sit on a machine (bike) and burn calories away with minimal pain.

Happy training!

-Pennington

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ballet-inspired: core


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

-Pennington

Ballet Beautiful Vids


New entry.  Here’s the link.

-Pennington

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.

BB 2

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.

BB 9

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.)

BB 10

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!

BB 8

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

Reflecting Meathead


Is it true once a meathead always a meathead? 

I’m not entirely sure but I have been testing it out on a weekly basis.  During the week I perform multiple Ballet Beautiful workouts, however in the weekends (and one day a week) I save my weightlifting sessions and treat them like royalty.  I savor every exercise and every rep even though I changed my rep style and training techniques.

Since my goals are different my programs consist of higher rep ranges than what I’m used to, also more circuit-training style and also tri-sets/giant sets.  The rest time has been super short and interesting.  Ever since I started spreading out my Ballet Beautiful workouts throughout the day – I became comfortable with doing quicker workouts.  I also became addicted to a different kind of fascinating localized burn.

For a long time I used to perform 2-3 hours in the gym on weightlifting and cardio sessions but now I’m on to doing everything different.  To be honest, I don’t think I enjoy long workouts at the moment.  At the moment it feels like getting my workouts done quickly is a new accomplishment.  I do have to control my breathing as I’m dying half the time, with or without digesting caffeine.  On this note:  The last few years I actually enjoy taking caffeine for workout sessions because there are times when it blunts the hardcore pain and burn – it makes it easier to get through difficult super intense workouts.

I’ve broken up my weightlifting/strength-training bouts typically into these body parts:  Shoulders, Traps & Back, Chest & Back or Chest, Squats & Arms or Legs, Glutes and Arms.  It’s very typical of me to do any body part along with Back (and I’ve been trying to get out of this habit) because I love training back!  Then there are times when I throw in many different push ups at one time and bang them out as quickly as possible while aiming for 100 reps or higher as a round 1 or round 2 of my workout in the day.  I have a soft spot for push ups because being a woman it proved difficult for me to get to a place where I could do one push up, so now generally I go buck-wild doing them because I can now.  It keeps the upper body and core strength high anyway.

This past weekend I performed Barbell Bent-Over Rows (underhand), Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes and Dumbbell Bicep curls one after another.  I’ve never been a big fan of tri-sets or giant sets back in the days – here and there they were a once in a blue thing, but for the most part straight and supersets were always my go to with rest-pause/staggered sets.

Back to the weekend, I dug my feet into the ground and got into a perfect 90 degree with my body so my hamstrings are stretched yet contracted isometric and pulling underhand for the Bent-Over Rows.  I felt absolutely amazing!  It’s like an invisible breeze flowed through my hair, although it felt like a sauna in the room.

And I felt wild fire spread across the forest of my muscles.  I love when it feels like my entire body grows swollen in a matter of seconds and the delts start to fill like balloons.  I love when the body comes off as if it’s hitting muscular failure when each set goes on and the pull of the motion seems to get jerky and doesn’t feel as smooth yet the reality is you’re not jerking your body in a discombobulated fashion.  You’re just becoming one with the mind-muscle-body connection.

Then I moved right into the Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press as my abdominals pulled itself in while the glutes keep taunt and super tight to aid in a strong soldier position.  I pumped out reps and focused on maintaining good breathing techniques as my heart raced and raced and raced.

My lats became a passionate bonfire while in the Dumbbell Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes.  I got into the perfect 90 degree, and my hamstrings are stretched yet contracted isometric again, but this time I have to pull back almost in an arc.  I fought through the raging flame.  I fought through gravity.  I fought through the speeding heart.  I grinded my teeth.  My cheeks puffed up like a hamster binging.  My mascara sweated and burned in my eyes.

Then quickly I moved into Dumbbell Bicep Curls and smiled at myself in the mirror.  My delts are pumped and I could see these lines embedded in the top of my traps every time I alternated curling and squeezing for two seconds before coming back down.  And it’s in these times where I realized how much I’ve busted my ass training with the first loves of my life:  Dumbbells and Barbells.  This is true resistance.  I love the iron and nothing can ever take its place.

I felt the rush of blood raged through my veins rep after rep after rep as I moved and grimace on to each exercise until I finally took a rest for a few moments before I had to hit it again for another 3 more big sets.  This was another reminder that once a meathead is always a meathead.  It’s a drug.  It’s an addiction.  It’s something my body and my mind calls for without a shadow of a doubt.  This is true love.

Weightlifting gives me a different outlet by allowing me to tap into various types of emotions that dwell within me.  When I want to feel like a hungry beast, when I want to take my aggression out, when I want to tighten my skin, when I want to swell my body parts like I live off a tank of helium and when I want to feel like my strong self again – I have weightlifting to count on.

Ballet Beautiful allows me to feel feminine and it provides contrast for my weightlifting.  Weightlifting makes me feel masculine – and if this sounds sexist to you – then that sounds like a personal problem.  I embrace both essences of gender.  Both training systems work for me in different ways, like I work on bigger muscle with weights and smaller ones with Ballet Beautiful.  They both have everlasting techniques and history.  They both share technique, strength and grace.

I acquire distinctive endorphins from both training systems, but it seems like weightlifting is what makes my blood fire instinctively and it makes me feel powerful and invincible – capable of anything and everything.

  -Pennington

Shifting the Brainwashing


o shifting the brainwashing
I am absolutely elated!  I’m joyful and in high spirits training speaking (and yes I’m talking about Ballet Beautiful).  I never thought anything other than weightlifting could bring me to a place where I’m both happy and full of plenty endorphins.  For thirteen years I’ve devoted lots of time, effort, tears, injuries, strains, tears and more into the lifestyle of weightlifting.  This has been a part of me like my genetic makeup.  The iron has forever been my best friend when I didn’t have any best friends.

The truth is over the last year or two – I associate a lot of negativity with weightlifting.  There were endless moments where my weightlifting sessions were more about doing my best to fill in my countless voids rather than for the purpose of how I looked or other health related reasons.  I was destroying my body to the ground with force and brainwashing myself with negative words and connotations.

Day in and day out I would break my body.  I used to work hard for hours in the gym doing 60-90 minute cardio sessions and a separate 60-90 minute weightlifting session a day up to 5-6 times a day for many hours.  I bet I could light up Times Square with all the energy I gave to the gym daily.  Sometimes I would split the sessions up and other times I would do it back to back with a protein bar or a shake in the center of the sessions.

The twenty-four hour gym was my haven – it was my alcohol and bar.  I gym hopped from one gym to another especially when the manic nights wouldn’t let me sleep.


This leads me into another subject where I built more brainwashing for my training life mind.  I tell you now that everything is a lesson in disguise if you have the ability to recognize it and flex your self awareness often.  The fitness industry can be a motivating place for some and a disheartening place for others.  The one thing I know however is the fitness industry has a powerful impact on everyone in the world.  I wish I could say I’m immune to it, but I’m not.  Sometimes I get caught up in the strange world.

I like to pride myself on rarely looking up to anyone in the fitness and bodybuilding industry because no one is like me and I’m not like anyone else.  I don’t look up to the pros in the fitness industry because I don’t agree with most of the things they say.  Everything is airbrushed, enhanced and they’re in competition mode selling us lies that come in imagery, supplements and pill bottles.

The thing that gets me the most about these fitness pros is their brainwashing – it is pretty much the same talk and mentality.  They’re like clones of one another with their mantras:  “No pain, no gain” and “Train insane or remain the same.”  Should you train with pain?  It depends on the kind of pain.  Should you train through your pain?  No.  Will these pros tell you that?  No.  But they’ll tell you whatever you want to hear to make you buy the products they themselves are forced to sell.

To my knowledge (and I don’t know of every person in the fitness industry), almost every single coach, IFBB/National Pro and even fitness gurus talk about extreme dieting and extreme training.  One day I viewed a video someone on Twitter linked and was shocked when I saw a powerlifter expressing his extreme viewpoint on why you should work through elbow pain, and if you don’t, then you really don’t want your personal records and so forth.

This is hogwash!

Just because you refuse to bury your body into the ground and you want to live and die for your weightlifting/Powerlifting numbers – doesn’t mean YOU should.  Just because you have a tear in your shoulder/knee and need to beat out your competition as a way to prove to yourself and the whole world YOU can do it – doesn’t mean YOU should DO it.  You should take a step back and really analyze the world and what they’re telling you and what dream they’re selling YOU.

The thing is you need to look at facts aside from asking:  Why are you putting your body through hell?  What are your reasons?  Are they good reasons?  Or are you doing it for your business, for your team or for your country?  Is there something in your life that you’re running away from?  Or is there a void you’re trying to cover?  Or do you simply live for the passion and want to break your body in return for this passion you’re feeling?

To be continued..

-Pennington

Accommodating Self (Part 2)


BB fitness
The best decision I made was breaking up with the gym.

I did a ton of reflecting.  In general I have no problem working out at home, but I just never knew I’d feel more comfortable working out at home around the clock as much as I do.  Training at home has allowed me to take the pressure off mentally as I can’t compare myself against who I used to be.. way back when.  Aside from less self-demands I can’t ego lift at home like I can ego-lift at the gym.  It does suck I can’t feed off people’s energy in the gym, but the focus is deep having to feed off my own energy.  It’s been about 4 months since I’ve been strength-training at home and I must say it’s been beneficial for me mentally, emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually.

Here are a few reasons why I enjoy training at home nowadays aside from the little I just mentioned:  I can be myself.   I don’t have to smile, be polite, and pretend I’m in a good mood or have small conversation when I don’t want to.  I can workout whenever I want without time restraints or gym holidays getting in the way.  I can focus 110% on my form, on my breathing and zero in on the way I feel mentally or emotionally.   I have to push myself differently and get extra creative making home workout programs so they are super effective and exhausting because that’s what I enjoy.

Also I don’t have to feel uncomfortable or awkward trying to hide my extra fat in huge hoodies and sweat pants.  I can rock a spaghetti-strap tank top and spandex and I wouldn’t secretly judge myself in front of others and make the awkwardness awkward and obvious to those who may or may not judge me at the gym.  (Judgement-free zone only happens at home and not at Planet Fitness.)  I don’t have an aversion at home, but I do have one outside – where I secretly believe people can tell if I previously hurt my ankle or not.  (Yes, it’s mental.)  Also I don’t have to spend over $112.00 on Metro Card money to travel to the gym and back home.

Then there’s the other obvious like I don’t have to wait for machines during peak time.   I compete with myself, build my confidence and track record rather than pressure myself to compete with the person I used to be in the gym while being at the gym.   On a really good note, with at-home workouts, I can do laundry at the same time I train.  And as an introvert – I do enjoy my time alone.

New inspiration?  Now over the past month and a half I’ve been newly inspired by Ballet Beautiful.  I owe it to BB for re-motivating me again.  I can do any of their workouts at home and spread it out among the day (on top of my weight training) for minutes at a time multiple times a day and night.  The exercises, technique and workouts themselves are extremely challenging and work very well!  Ballet Beautiful approach comes off more about quality than quantity and the workouts itself are about strength, power, flexibility, balance, technique and grace in a totally different way.

BBStrengthI absolutely swear by Ballet Beautiful and I haven’t been doing it very long at all.  In the past I’ve written about how I enjoy the extremes of both bodybuilding and ballet as I find them both to be very similar in terms of disciplinary action, strength, beauty, aestheticism, athleticism and art.  I love them both.  And I feel like I want to embrace them both and see where they lead me to.  For the good month of August I fell in love with Ballet Beautiful for countless reasons aside from what I perceive ballet to be – graceful.  One reason why I love Ballet Beautiful is because of the minimalist style.  Two is because the exercises and stretches involved are complex, detailed and difficult.  Third reason is BB has increased my motivation by 100%!

All this time, I was searching for something.  Strangely – and out the blue – I fell in some kind of dear love for Ballet that started around 2009.  But, I didn’t know something totally different from weightlifting would give me the “wow” factor and innovative inspiration I needed.  In ballet, there’s a quiet and classical tone set, as well as an elegant breathtaking history, same as Bodybuilding for me.  There’s art, power, focus and balance in every single ballet movement which I find irresistible.

Of course, a few times a week I will continue to devote time and effort to strength-training, but it was Ballet Beautiful that took me to another place mentally, emotionally and physically.  It’s because I can start fresh and it’s because I’m not bound to the past decade and associations of weightlifting.  Recently I started to realize how my training has been changing in ways I’m not fully understanding yet.  It seems weightlifting doesn’t have the same flavor for me – maybe because I associate the past decade with weightlifting?

I’m a new person now.
And I want my training to reflect this as well.

BBQuickTip-ReEnvision-final-revHere’s what I know now:  I have a new vision for my body.  I don’t want my old body back because I don’t go backwards.  I want a more symmetrical and streamlined look.  I want to be more refined.  I want to be less soft.  I want to be less bulky.  I want less of the comfort I’ve had with my body in the past.  I want new strengths.  I want new exercises.  I want new challenges.  I want new posture.  I want new everything!

I will continue to focus on smaller muscles because all the bigger muscles on my body are well-developed.  I will continue to work on the tiny details in every single muscle.  I will continue to use my first love – dumbbells and barbells no more than twice a week and no less than one.  Weightlifting will always have a home in my heart, but what I want now and what motivates me now is vastly different.  I’m going to enjoy shifting.

And who knows what it might bring?

P.S.

One of my current goals is to go to the gym twice a week for extra cardio purposes.  I have an initial 30lbs to lose.  I’ve already dropped 7lbs in 2 weeks.  It’s game on.

-Pennington