Tag Archives: Healing

Animal Flow


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I have too much muscle for me not to put it to use.

I guess, just because I’ve been challenging myself without dumbbells and barbells doesn’t mean I can’t challenge myself in other ways.  My body craves movement.  It craves to feel blood swirling and pumping, to feel its skin get tight when performing.  My muscles crave dynamism and action.  I knew I had to think of something fast that would allow my body and I to be challenged and fulfilled.  Eventually, I came across Animal Flow or Primal Movement.

In the past I’ve done some animal-type movements but added them to workout programs when I wanted something a little different.  A few weeks ago, I decided I want Animal Flow or Ground-based movements to be the center of my attention, along with Yoga and mobility work for my continual internal and external healing.  Which reminds me, I remember getting used to ground-based movements when I was doing a lot of Ballet Beautiful and Barre work.  Half of the exercises were on the mat making it more challenging than the weightlifting I’ve already became accustomed to for over a decade.

I think subconsciously my body deeply craved ground-based workouts again, even though I was very scared (and still am) of letting go the religion of weightlifting.  Maybe not forever, but for the moment.  And so far, I’m right!  My body craves this kind of expression.  Over the past few years, I’ve come to enjoy moving my body in different ways.  I seek out more flow-type workouts that are super challenging and therefore allow me to concentrate in ways I usually don’t.

I want mindfulness, new movement patterns and new folds in my brain.  In a way, only now can I see how one-dimensional many of my movements were when I was weightlifting.  In the process, I’ve gotten better at writing a more balanced workout program.  I feel like I didn’t have a choice, but I’m not complaining.  I get better with time.  In distancing myself from what I normally do, I’m giving myself permission to see things differently, which in turn allows me to continue being open, so I can crave different things.  I love going on and learning from new journeys.  What I find interesting about practicing Animal Flow is I must work my way up, which makes it harder for me to overtrain even if (when) I want to.

I’ve had too many up’s and down’s with motivation due to chronic pain, stress and health issues that I can’t always say it’s been easy for me to be discipline 4-5 times a week every week regarding fitness over the past few years.  But what has helped me is going back to how much I love to move, how good I feel when my body is pumped, how blessed I am to have all my limbs, how nice it is to set goals and to stubbornly meet the goals and drive further for extra goals.

I’ve had conversations of giving up my love for fitness as well as conversations about why we (my different shades of personalities) should continue it.  I’ll never forget a coworker of mine when I asked her one day, “Do you want to train with me on my break?”  She said, “Why not?  You’re the trainer.”  That day we trained together and during, she said to me, “You love training!  I never see you so happy, so big with your smile until you train.”  And the thing is I never realized how happy I was when I move, exercise and put my body through intense work.  I was solely training to train.

Last night, I was elated!  I was walking on clouds, super high on endorphins.  I couldn’t get enough.  I did a move called The Underswitch.  I’ll link the move at the bottom of this entry with an article about AF.  It’s basically being in a crab walk position and rotating your entire body until you’re in a bear crawl/beast position.  Granted, it was my first time doing this move.  However, sometimes I have a bad habit underestimating myself and my physical strength.  I thought the underswitch would be harder to do because I weigh 223lbs.  Mentally, I felt like I shouldn’t have been able to do it, but physically I can do it.  I made sure to perform it a few times on the left and right, so I know it’s not a fluke.  And I had so much fun!  I couldn’t stop smiling!  There are few things in life that make me happy in this barbaric world.

I’m happy I’ve been practicing for weeks with Bear Crawl or Beast Holds.  I’ve been picking up one limb at a time and shifting my weight while being hovered a few inches off the floor just like in the video above.  I’m also practicing traveling or walking forwards and backwards also with the Bear Crawl and Crab positions, which are harder for me because I’m not the best when it comes to coordination.  Still, I think I found something I can put my body, mind, spirit and soul to use.

Have you guys done any Animal Flow?

– Pennington

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Barrier Break


A year and a half ago my life changed when I fell backwards on the skateboard and my foot got caught in the back of my other leg just before my bodyweight came crashing down on it and I broke my ankle.  My life changed just because I wanted to have fun, just because I desired to take risk, just because I desired to feel emancipated.  I made a choice despite peer pressure.  I made a choice despite my beginner status.  I made a choice because of adrenaline because of confidence and that single moment changed my life in a nanosecond.

After the cast, wheelchair, crutches and learning how to walk all over again I became afraid of everything from tying my sneakers to going outside.  I also didn’t like anyone.  I felt I couldn’t relate anymore with others.  The people who I thought would be there when the chips were down weren’t even there.  So I kept myself in isolation because this felt easiest.  I wasn’t feeling the world.  During the process I questioned the world.  I debated on my entire existence.  I no longer identified with the biggest part of my life – fitness.  I only identified with healing and recovery.

So I became afraid of everything living in a repeated trauma.  The body is an amazing machine.  Still, the psychological portion is where my issue exists.  For a good amount of time I didn’t want to walk on my crutches from fear of injuring and falling again.  After the cast came off and I could walk without an extreme limp I had the problem of wanting to step in the shower because I could slip in there too.  To this day I fight through many different mental and physical barriers.  I tell myself, “I’m a warrior.  I’m fine.  I can do this.  Everything will be okay.”

But no matter how wintry or full of spring it is, going outside is another battle because stepping on or stepping off the curb sends an apprehensive trigger within.  Then in a split second an image appears with a thousand ankles all lined diagonal breaking at the same time and the bones make a big sharp crunch sound.  This is where I remain frozen.  I get lightheaded.  I feel the panic and anxiety creeping like mad ants throughout my entire body.  I stand on the sidewalk like a lost little lamb trying to hide my terror from everyone outside.  I stand under the shade for 5-20 minutes or find the nearest bench I can sit and rely on.  I try to shake it out my head like it’s the nightmare it has been for over a year plus but it’s painfully difficult.  I wonder when these fears and worries will take flight?

Time, strength, online friends, partner support and my current therapist have been by my side.  I had to break wall after concrete wall in order to get to an elevated place.  What I learned is recovery comes in different stages.  Healing takes forever and a day even with positive self-talk.  Now I have to push through a new obstacle – one I used to love doing actually – riding a bike.  Before the accident I remembered loving to cycle.  I remembered the feeling of the wind giving me foreplay all over my body with its soft breeze.  I remembered feeling like a madwoman cycling and eating down bridge after bridge like some sort of luxury freedom like a huge accomplishment.

But now I’m scared.  Once again mental preparation becomes my only way through.  Like everything else, I’ve come very far, and baby steps are how I work back to the old or with the new.

 -Pennington

Missing Myself


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Here’s the truth:  Over the course of 2 months I’ve lost interest in everything.  A big part of this happened due to the unexpectedness of life and mostly because I was losing what I consider to be my identity at the core to strange and newer thoughts and to feelings I would never even give a seed to sprout from.

I went from power poses to vulnerable ones.  I went from an assertive voice to a squeak of a mouse.  I went from eating like a beast to eating like a tiny bird.  I went from being sure and proud of every decision I come to make up to now to drowning in what others wanted for me over night.  And how was I not myself?

It wasn’t until this week where I started to listen to music again.  It wasn’t until this week where I let nature come into my heart once more and touch my face and allowed it to perk up every one of my senses again while I paced myself from short travels or long city walks.

The only thing that has gotten me out of bed has been the productivity, the goal of going to school to get one degree so I can get another.  And it’s whatever works, whatever gets you through to the next day so one doesn’t feel reckless.  But I’m still out of control, I’m still holding onto negative views and I’m out of order when it comes to concentration.  It’s completely unlike me and if it wasn’t for my inner strength I would imagine I’d let go because all I feel is alone.

The last few nights I’ve taken mere opportunities to perform some bodyweight squats because in the back of my head I’ve brainwashed myself to move it or lose it.  Not too long ago before I knew what I knew I had taken a week off from having a troubling head/chest cold and Dark Knight being the strict personal trainer he is at the time made sure to pat and grope my ass to say, “Just checking.  It still feels firm.”  And of course I could have cursed him out and brought up the double standard views of genders except I didn’t because I understand what it means to be this way.  But the reality is there are countless factors that determine how quickly strength or physical looks are to diminish and I’m not within that realm of possibility.

Now I have to be smart and heal from the procedure I had on Monday.  I’m looking at (hopefully) another 2 weeks and if lifting heavy steel wasn’t an issue enough, there’s the not having actual penetration part either.  Oh goodie!

I could only remember the last few workouts I had in the beginning weeks of January.  One was working out with an acquaintance of mine (I forced him) and we worked out upper body until I caught a dead arm and until he pretty much tapped out on going set after set.  After we were done I had to pressure him to hydrate like a camel and eat something because he was coming down with chills as he did his best to try and keep up with me for every single static hold, rep, pyramid set and every other compound exercise while losing track of time.  We never made it to the movies.  But I was high and delighted as if I had an orgasm with merry smiles. Fuck me! I even caught people wishing they could be my training partner since the eyes never lie.

I remember the second workout was in my house where I supersetted (E-Z Curl) Small Barbell 40lbs (all I have at home) Squats with Push ups for as many sets as I could give as I was struggling to breathe still from a really bad hacking cough and lungs constricted where I needed my asthma pump from time to time.  Then I threw in Pauline Nordin’s The Butt Bible right after that workout to make sure I felt as if I worked all angles on my legs and glutes.  It did the trick because after all was done I felt orgasmic and wiped out once again.

I’m quick to believe for a moment (due to freaking out!) that once I reach a certain degree of shit that I can’t turn back and do what I used to do the way I’ve always done it (which is total bullshit by the way)!  It makes me as happy as receiving oral sex to now eagerly daydream about going back to the gym.  I feel I’m ready mentally, not yet physically.  But I can’t wait to bring a new attitude and vigor to my sets with various movements.  I can’t wait to steal the limelight from others who are working next to me.  I can’t wait until I feel somewhat sexy again.  I can’t wait to feel the blood pumping throughout my body making me feel beastly and edgy and powerful.  I can’t wait!

It’s strange to feel like I’m sitting on the bench for something that was out of my control.  I don’t ask life why anymore.  I stopped that.  One reason is because it sounds beyond melodramatic and I’m sure there are lessons in place for me as much as there are mistakes.  But even though I told myself not to deny anything I feel during this delicate emotional and mental moment I have to move slow although I really just want to move on to a different chapter in my life.

Still I have a friendly jealousy towards all the amazing people who are working out currently and I get to watch their progress on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.  No matter what social media I’m on there’s fitness at every turn.  I’ve been enjoying some folks who have been taking the time out to send me their photo improvement as well.  They don’t know that underneath it all they’re feeding me constant energy and therefore are inspiring me.

The other truth is:  I’m determined, passionate, have good work ethics, have a thirst for more so I’ll never be able to truly let go. I’ve never been a weak person.  I’ve always had and continue to have a fire in me that won’t quit.  So in the end I’ll get through this as everything else I’ve gotten through in my life.  However this time around and to take a quote from Country Strong I want to, “Fall in love with as many things as you can (or possible).”  I want to give that a go too and maybe we all should?

And as far as tonight goes I’m flirting much with the idea of Yoga.  How much strain could it possibly put my body through right?  I will do something therapeutic this late evening like cook dinner and make tacos. 😉

P.S.

If you manage to read this all on your first time:  Thank you!  And even if you didn’t, thank you anyway!  And if you come here to check my page out regularly enough to read it thank you!  And if this is your first time on my page:  Thanks for coming aboard at this moment! 😀

-Pennington