Tag Archives: Reflecting

BLINK FITNESS


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Yesterday I made a decision to rejoin the gym again.

I had many reservations about it.  Okay, it only lasted for thirty minutes, but those small reservations felt like an anchor that was going to last longer than twenty-four hours, which is unlike me.  I think I’m going to blame it on the miasma of depression and the uncertainty it causes.  Now I know to most people joining a gym doesn’t sound even remotely significant, but when you’ve made the gym half your fucking life – it’s a big fucking deal!

Joining Blink was a happy accident if I believed in accidents.  I didn’t know they built a spanking new gym walking distance from me.  So could you imagine how big my heart swelled as I sat tipsy nursing my white plum wine across from the gym Pre-Valentine’s Day eating like a silly pig at my favorite Thai restaurant?  The thought of the gym alone gave me enough excitement to give my entire body a staggering erection.

Old memories flashed before me in all my assertive and madwoman training and the way I felt empowered simply by owning truck loads of ego and exhibiting strength and personal space in the weight room alongside the brutes of men.  It all rewound itself to foggy windows, smelling the dampness of other people’s sweaty gloves, headbands and fabric while zoning out to chalky protein, diverse tunes, and colossal sounds of iron clanks as well as cardio machines that squeaked for mercy and oil.

But since I broke my ankle I’ve become somewhat of a recluse and kept myself as inaccessible as a teenage girl in her Gothic room.  Over the course of two years I joined a gym twice and canceled the same.  At first I liked the idea of going back to who I was – the full time badass who wanted to spank everyone in the gym while priding and lifting for power, mass and size.  Until I realized I wasn’t the same woman.  I transitioned into something else (I don’t fully understand yet) and my goals did too.  The thing I do know is over the course of time I wanted to default to a natural size, lose a substantial amount of weight (still do) and still keep a lot of the strength I’ve earned from a decade.

Plus, I got used to working out in my own personal space at home.  I was made aware of my troubled hermit existence only after I started to go back to the gym and notice whenever someone would come near me I would practically hiss, sneer and snap at them if they even asked, “Are you using this mat?”  I think I lost some social/interactive skills by being a recluse.  Well, I live and I learn and I also change.  I’m at a different place now mentally, emotionally, spiritually and especially physically.

So once again I’m here joining a gym.  I know some of the good involves:  Being able to strengthen more of my ankle by using certain machines like the Treadmill and I’ll also lose weight quicker by devoting longer and steadier sessions instead of doing HIIT and circuit (strength) training multiple times a week.  I burn myself out all the time.  The bad is being around people and their bullshit, whether they say no when I ask to jump in with them on any given machine [or insert any other annoying gym attitude/behavior here].  Is this something I want to deal with?

More importantly joining this gym is about reflecting harder on the possible notion that I’ve outgrew the gym.  I may no longer find the gym a daily requirement in my life.  If there is a chance I don’t feel like I need the gym anymore, then I have to learn how to come to grips with that instead of wasting precious money trying to figure it all out.  However, if I wind up falling in love with the gym all over again, then that’s just true love that feels like sticking and I’m with it either way.

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At this moment I’m setting up to go on my date with Blink Fitness.  I haven’t decided on the time yet.  It’s not only about Blink impressing me; I’m not above impressing Blink.  Don’t ask why.  It’s a gym.  I believe in making all kinds of impressions.

The gym from what I assessed is on the smaller end with just two floors.  The people there seem somewhat motivated, but they lack passion, which I’m surprised about because I guess I expect more out of people.  But I can see their blank faces droning whether they’re weightlifting, cardioing or stretching.  I’m telling myself it’s just the weekend and perhaps the energy is different during the weekday.

I’m going to shower, put cold cream on my face, smooth it over with some serum, and shave my underarms and legs.  I’ll slick the ends of my hair with protein polish and a flat-iron only to hide it’s slickness in a bun.  And although I have lots of variety (DVD’s, YouTube and paid Fitness Streaming Subscriptions) working out at home, everything is much different in the gym – energy, friendly competition and even meeting people or bumping into a gymrat I used to know takes place there.

I’m hoping being at closer distance would keep me motivated at first and I’ll have fun second.  I want to remain a gym member in my heart of hearts.  Also I don’t want a third cancellation on my gym life resume.  I would say wish me luck, but I don’t believe in luck.

Crazy excited,
Pennington

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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

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