Tag Archives: Weightlifting

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

The Theme Is Being Gentler


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I cancelled my gym membership and felt relieved.

The first reason why I decided to cancel my gym membership is because I don’t use it anymore.  I thought joining a gym closer to home would be convenient, but it wasn’t.  I became one of those people I used to talk shit about – paying monthly and not showing up.  I decided to stop wasting money and put hundreds back in my pocket.

The second reason why I cancelled is because I don’t weightlift as heavy as I used to.  This was the purpose of my gym membership; to play with all the hammer strength machines, barbells and dumbbells until I abused and depleted myself.  Now, I can’t step into the gym without lifting heavy.  I can no longer control myself, so I don’t go.

I have developed too many muscle imbalances and there are parts of my body that are asymmetrical (according to me).  Aside from my muscles who enjoy living their life in a state of contraction, they’re holding onto emotional and physical trauma.  The tension I carry must be release from within.

Every time I lift weights, my nags escalate until it’s full-blown inflammation.  It affects me in such a way where my body keeps instructing me to listen.  Over the years, I have decreased the load, given cardio strength a try and included circuit training with lighter dumbbells/barbells only to go for heavier weights eventually.  Therefore, continuing the hurt.

And, my body goals and nature has changed.
Nevertheless, I’ve been heeding the advice of my body.

Slowly, listening.

And I’ve been listening in time to lead me to the third reason why I decided to cancel my gym membership.  For the past few months, I’ve been seeing a physical therapist for pelvic floor dysfunction.  This dysfunction coupled with my fibroid issue and stress incontinence has pretty much ruined a good part of my life that I’ll leave for another entry probably.  Because of these newly found issues, it behooves me to learn how to be gentle with myself in every regard possible.

It’s quite interesting, over the course of the last few years, the theme of my life seems to be about being gentler to myself.  My therapist has also helped me to solidify the idea of furthering my compassion for myself.  I must be gentle in how I speak to myself, in how I respond to myself, in how I regulate my emotions, in how I treat myself, in how I exercise.

It all points to being gentler and I’m actually refreshed because of it.

– Pennington

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

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.

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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

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)


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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

Hiding Out


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I stayed indoors with my fears of falling again and re-injuring or injuring a new body part of mine. I stayed indoors because I live in New York City where the people are wild with busy bodies. I stayed indoors because I realized quickly that the world outside is definitely “lack of movement friendly.” I stayed indoors because it was better than dealing with the antics of and lack of wheelchair or crutch accessibility. I was much safer being in the house, safer being away from obstacles that would love nothing more but to come and test me.

During the moments of going out into the world, I watched and lingered with my eyes on people’s ability to move, walk, jog, sit, jump, ride a skateboard and dance. It looks easy – using two legs to perform. Everything is easier. I wonder, if they understand how awesome it is to be able to move so freely in the world of rapid movement.

I wonder, how many of them were grateful.  Or how many of them like me never even pregnant a thought of having their ankle mobility and such taken away for a limited of time. So, I miss being able to use my ankle in various ways in a very mobile friendly world.

Moving on – everyone has a habit of wanting to tell you what to do with your life and they even go as far as to give unsolicited advice many times because everyone whose not you has the solution to everything, including your broken/displaced ankle. Imagine when all kinds of people – relatives, registered nurses who are connected to friends and the surgeon want to chime in on my life and what decisions I should be making and why I should do this or that.

There were quite a few people who were against me and my obtaining a wheelchair. They said it will limit my body use and I’ll lose my muscles at a quicker rate, not to mention stall the healing of my ankle. I got a wheelchair anyway because this is MY life, not theirs. And if these people have never had the pleasure and interesting experience of learning how to use crutches and over long distance (or have a built-in mental fear of using crutches), well, why the FUCK would I listen to them for?

To rewind a little, from the emergency I was given lots of pain medication and they practically threw the crutches into my lap like another useless perscription of sort without instructing me on how to use my brand new legs. Did this build my confidence level with crutches? And was it supposed to? I think absolutely fucking not!

Towards the ending when I was heading out the emergency room it was time for my body to vomit it’s organs, raging anger and maniac depression out. I was outside (thankfully with a good friend) at 4am from the cab ride home to the concrete of what was going to be my new place of stay – vomiting and vomiting and vomiting and vomiting. I thought about people who used heavy drugs and why? I thought about why was I going through this and than quickly thought: Why ask why?

It took me 30 minutes to get inside the apartment, due to my drugged-ness of medication and learning how to use crutches for the very first time. The feeling of illness, nausea, pain in my foot, vomiting every few crutch-steps, along with a crackhead up my ass telling me a home remedy consisting of soaking my foot in butter and sugar – while trying to balance from the extreme dizziness I felt and eyeing the ground for immediate cracks on the floor at 4am was one of the hardest things to do in my life. I still don’t know how the fuck I made it into the elevator or into the abode.

The same week, a few days later, I felt froggy and decided on going to hang out with a friend of mine like we do every Friday. The only catch was using crutches. (I didn’t even think about getting a wheelchair yet and the thought of staying indoors seemed very depressing.) It didn’t hit me until I got to the lobby where I actually felt frightened – as frightened as the first day of kindergarten: Was I going to fall? How long will it take me to go to his car from the building (which is a 40 second walk) with these crutches? Am I sure I want to do this? I allowed myself to feel the panic. I digested it and braved on. It took roughly 10 minutes.

Mentally I was completely helpless. I felt powerless, which triggered humiliation, shame and pure embarrassment. Note: This doesn’t mean I look at people who use crutches or a wheelchair and say to myself, “They should feel humiliated.” This is what I feel personally. This is my experience. And those 10 minutes felt long. I lowered my head in defeat, and when people asked me if I needed help – I smiled half ass and unconvincingly. I was drowning, fatigued. I had to stop short every 5 crutch-step. It was enough and still is enough to use a wheelchair when necessary, especially when I’m going the distance and/or shopping.

I’m not above using a wheelchair at the moment and I don’t see why I should be. Why can’t I make things easy for me when I need it now the most? Why do I have to abuse myself physically even when I have a broken bone that needs to fuse together and heal? I physically abuse myself when I go to the gym and weightlift for hours during the week. (This doesn’t include cardio or stretching work.) I easily put in 10 hours or more at the gym a week. This doesn’t include workouts at home or how much I walk the city streets for extra mileage and to boost my metabolism whenever I can.

I also know, unlike most people I don’t have a problem with inactivity. I have the opposite problem – where I need to learn and force my hand for when my body, central nervous system or mind needs a day off from the gym. So when it’s time to bounce back, I’m going to put in 100% because I have a wonderful gym mentality and like a dear friend who reads my blog has stated to me, “You want it more than most.” And I do. And I’ve already proven this to my motherfuckin self for a decade with weightlifting.

So, excuse me if I want a fucking wheelchair. Excuse me, if for the moment that I believe it’s necessary to take a moment out, to relax, to say, “Hey, it’s alright to take it easy because it’s important right now.” I’ve given myself permission and fuck what anyone else thinks. Who likes hopping or swinging on one leg? This is my life. Fuck everybody else!

I write this, just in case someone else is questioning whether they should use a wheelchair at any point in time for their fibula fracture when they need it because people couldn’t mind their fucking business and you may doubt yourself. Just because you’re young and not obese doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to use a wheelchair. It’s your life, your business, your prerogative. Fuck everybody else and their shameless opinions. They don’t know you or what you’re going through. They get NO say! You have my permission. 🙂

Pretty soon I’ll be hopeful in not needing to spend money on cabs like I’m made out of trees or hold my heavy leg up during the cab ride because New York City and their infamous potholes hurt! I’ll be hopeful to not have to base a decision at the whim of a day or night – trying to figure out if I can be fundamentally happy where I nap and put the world and my ankle to sleep, so I don’t wallow in pain or depression. I’ll be hopeful about the near future where I don’t have to pick something off the floor in trembling balance and any sign of dog toys or sneakers on the floor won’t instill fear in me.

-Pennington