Tag Archives: Ballet

The World As I See It from Ballet-Inspired Training


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In weightlifting it’s about contractions with the muscles.  Examples are:  Tightening, squeezing, static holding and rarely locking out the arms.

In Ballet, it’s about the extension.  Example:  Locking out to a degree; lengthening, reaching; stretching outwards with the body long through the neck, arms, through the knees and ankles.

In weightlifting it’s about how many calluses you build on your hand – it’s a sign of respect and work ethics.  In Ballet, it’s about how you carry your grace through your hands and how you group your fingers together in poise.

In weightlifting it’s about strapping your wrists tight for the most important lifts.  In ballet, it’s about keeping the wrists flexible and allowing the wrist to go limp while you have graceful curvature of the fingers.

In weightlifting it’s about never rounding your back.  In Ballet, it’s about rounding your back.

In weightlifting it’s about arching the back.  In Ballet, it’s about the tailbone being tucked underneath for straight back alignment and not what textbook fitness call “happy cat.”

In weightlifting it’s about engaging your core.  In Ballet, it’s about pulling “inward” through the center.

In weightlifting it’s about static stretching.  In Ballet, it’s about a combination of stretching from dynamic and ballistic, while searching for angles that work best for you in stretching even if seems like you’re coming out of alignment within a single stretch (evidently with the know-how of not hurting yourself).

In weightlifting it’s about muscles being timed and under tension.  In Ballet, it’s about moving your body as effortlessly as possible allowing the body to move freely with zero muscle tension.

In weightlifting it’s about muscle bellies.  In Ballet, it’s about body lines.

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Of course whether I explained things correctly or not isn’t what this entry’s about since these are my experiences and how I personally perceive them to be.

I hope you found my observations to be as interesting as I found it interesting to reflect.

Happy Training!

-Pennington

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Ballet Beautiful Vids


New entry.  Here’s the link.

-Pennington

Accommodating Self (Part 2)


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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

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

Say What! Ballet?


Sometimes in my life out of thin air I receive a surge to try something fresh. Usually this happens for a few reasons (whether I’m in need of revived stimulation/inspiration, trying to fill in a void, keeping my mind busy and setting it on altered focus), though it tends to happen at a subconscious level first.

Last year I dabbled in how far I could go from sane to insane changing my nutrition program and learned the annoyance and benefits of calorie counting.  During the same year I got lost in the intensity waves and tests of pushing your body to its limit aside from puking called: CrossFit.   The year before last year I was gung-ho and practiced my blocks/kicks and making some of my classmates jealous with how well I improved in a few weeks (even though they didn’t understand how hard I practiced at home) for Tae Kwon Do.  As for this year it seems I have quickly fallen and am getting used to many different things that may not necessarily have much to do with Bodybuilding/Bodysculpting.  But does have a lot to do with connection since the body works as one unit: Yoga, Pilates, Sprinting, Jogging, Tabata Training and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to name a few.

This brings me to this year and both my conscious/subconscious have led my mind/body on things to help with my muscle imbalances, smaller detail muscles, trigger points, posture alignment, poise and flexibility.  I believe Yoga, Pilates (soon to be Ballet) will and have lengthen, tighten, cracked, clicked back to its original place, stretched and thoroughly strengthen the tiny muscles that go unnoticed to someone who loves to throw around big weights to target bigger muscles.

There’s an infamous Dance Studio downtown not far from one of the places I work where they have everything from Modern Dance, Hip-Hop, Tap to Ballet. My one only concern however is (possibly?) wearing those ballet shoes.  I’m very finicky about anything pink and girly/feminine.  I’m not a big fan of representing my fem essence.  Overtime I’ve learned to thrive on and express my womanly nature.  Therefore Ballet seems suitable for me in this day and age.

I’ll leave off on the note where I like to add different dimensions to my physical activities and I love to self-teach.  Evidently, no?   I love the grace, the poise, the technique, vocabulary and the perfection it takes to learn Ballet.  So now my plan of action is to practice the 5 basic positions at home, learn the Plie like the Lat Pulldown, lengthen my hamstrings with difficult stretches, build up my tibia/ankle/soleus with Thera Bands before I step foot into a class.

I totally despise classes!   But courage is beauty and fear in this case can take a backseat as I’ve done many times before.   I just don’t want to look horrible (which I will since I don’t have any experience) on the first day I step in.  So the least I could do is research/homework and don’t come off as both stupid and completely de-conditioned during the process.  Hopefully I decide to go through with a full course.

It’s times like these I truly wish I had a girlfriend who would love to go on this adventure with me.  Will keep everyone posted. 😀

Pennington