Animal Flow


Animal-Flow3.jpg

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

Everything


Now that I have my dumbbells and E-Z Bar put off to the corner of the apartment, I’ve been focusing on other things like cardio (biking), twerking, walking with nature, flexibility and mobility work.  My physical therapist has even whispered restorative yoga and has recommended some DVD’s specifically for pelvic floor dysfunction that involves yoga.  So, you know where that’s taking me.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of cardio, but I’m a fan of being healthy enough.  To make biking for miles fun at the apartment, I blast tunes on my S1-Pro Bose!  The music gives me goosebumps and sometimes I can feel the bass deep in my heart as I drown out everyone else’s music in the building.  Sometimes I like multiple sessions spreading them from morning, afternoon or night.  And when I’m in a carefree mood, I’ll ride the bike without undies because that’s something I could never do at the gym!

Some people underestimate the work it takes to twerk.  It’s a hell of a workout!  Plus, it’s something that gets my heart racing quicker than I can shake my ass, probably.  I’m not supposed to squat, lunge or do crunches, according to my physical therapist, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, even though it may hurt me.  The main move of the twerk is a squat!  Still though, there are so many damn drills from standing, to bending over, to squatting on your toes, to performing movements on the wall or floor.  It’s great!

I remember when I first started twerking my body didn’t have the best muscle memory.  It felt like the first time I tried to dumbbell chest press; massively awkward and almost impossible.  I remember being self-conscious trying to chest press, more so than twerking.  Now, my ass has graduated!  It has a mind of its own and moves on its own freewill.  The only thing I need is a nickname for my twerking persona.

So, it took me a long time to be more flexible, but I got somewhere.  I stretched more of my lower body than I do my upper body because one day I want to be able to do the split.  Flexibility always reminds me of mobility work, so I do them both.  I used to think warmups, flexibility and mobility stuff were a waste of time, but that’s only because 1.  I can be kind of idiotic and 2.  because I was young and could get away without doing those things, so I thought.  I’m older now and my body is not having that shit anymore.  I must warm up and get all my juices flowing before I can dive into any kind of training just like foreplay before the climax.

Well, I’m new to restorative yoga.  I hope to practice it to the point where I turn into an airplane and levitate above the masses and hope to write about the journey of my new elevation.  So far, it’s weird to me.  At least, the process of being gentle as well as the process of consciously relaxing.  It’s eye-opening.  For the longest time, I lifted aggressively at the gym.  And to my amazement, I’ve never considered myself to be aggressive, even when others pointed and RAWR at me.  But by doing restorative yoga, I can see now how hostile, and often, how destructive I was.  Shit!  I have the injuries as proof.

Learning how to relax is something I needed in my life but didn’t know I needed in my life.  Isn’t that how it often is?  You never know what you need because you’re usually fixated on wanting something else that it overshadows what you actually NEED!  Anyhow, it’s taken me a long time to come around and relax for my overall well-being.  To be honest, the idea of being gentle to myself is/was pretty darn foreign, but I’m less guarded to being tender now with newfound appreciation.  This sums up everything!

Here’s an article to the introduction of restorative yoga if you’re curious.

Try it sometime.

Pennington

Missing Myself


Camera 360

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

Reflections On Yoga



(Written Previously)

Tonight…

out of the blue, I decided to hop-scotch my ass to get down and groovy with 45 minutes worth of Yoga in mi casa.  I know Yoga isn’t the first, middle or even the last thing on my exercise regimen list to perform.  But sometimes one must scratch deeper than what’s on the surface when it comes to the Training Life or existence itself, surely.

Yes, Yoga is a new realm I don’t touch much.  But I’ve done it twice in my life with other DVD‘s I’ve purchased out on a whim.  So I’m not a complete idiot when it comes to Yoga or am even put off by it.  I know with Yoga the  main significance one should take away from is knowing breathing is a part of movement and movement apart of breathing.  (I think I love knowing this the most actually.)  Besides the breathing, there’s the whole world of balancing, holding poses for periods of time, allowing yourself to be/feel within the present moment and seeing how good or how bad you SUCK when it comes to this word: Flexibility.  (Among other things.)

Now I’m a big believer in the what’s underneath..meaning I like to think what brought me to meditate with Yoga tonight is my subconscious.  It’s telling me that stretching would do me and my entire body justice.  I’m not going against this one bit.  I’m going to second it.  With intuition comes great responsibility.  I’m going to allow my instincts (as usual) to take/triumph over the guidance of my ego.  Especially when I have the goosebumps of faith to let me know deep down inside this is what I should be doing for the moment.  And well, the extra benefits of practicing Yoga is learning how to relax my mind.  Lord knows I could sure USE this lesson every fucking day!

Also I had this conversation with this fabulous person who so happens to be a great Pilates and Yoga instructors at one of the gyms I work in during the weekends I’ll call Dee.  She basically explained that even though “Many folks who weight-lift believe their muscles are getting stronger, it’s not necessarily true.  To gain strenth in the muscle one must lengthen them.”  One must lengthen the muscle so excessive fascia doesn’t become an issue.  (Foam-rolling too!)  Also tight super contracted muscles are lurking waiting to pop out like can-in-a-worm-injuries.  I can attest to both those things she mentioned.  (Fortunately or unfortunately.  ER!)  So does Yoga seem EXTRA like the right thing to do?

Well as soon as I started the Yoga session Crunch: Candlelight Yoga (which I shut the lights off in my room and lit a candle by the fucking way ) a radiance of peace and smiles washed all over me.  It was as if my spirit was cleansing itself before I even had the chance to dive in and fully see what it was all about to begin with.  Quite pleasant if you ask me!  I’ve no idea if my spirit reacted in such delight to what I was about to do?  Or if I was thrilled at myself for shutting off the light, lighting up a candle and about to let my guard down immensely?  I breathed all too deeply and allowed the flow to change from the inside out.

At first I wondered about how hard this was going to be for me, if the poses were going to be bearable or dreadful in my tight muscles and fibers?  But I quickly listened to the guidance of the video instructor and closed my eyes and allowed the breaths to run deep into the movements of the pose.  Before I knew it, I was laying on my purple mat and there were instances when I really began to zone out and I completely forgot I was inside a room.  Pure blank isolation?  Or an awkward sense of higher intelligence?  (*Scratches head!*)  This is by far difficult for me to do in my own skin, let alone my mind.  I’m typically wound up tight like my muscles due to lifting stress or the everyday turmoils of my Life.  So I guess I can consider this: WIN!

There were instances where twisting or side-bending became hard to inhale and exhale correctly.  But I didn’t back down for one second.  I stood with it and made sure I’m in the Present moment.  I could easily tell which areas I seem to be the tightest:  Top side corner of chest (ARGH!), inner thighs (What else is new?), hamstrings (Hm.), obliques (Understandable) and certain parts of the hips/glutes ().  But I made it through by aiming my breath into the areas that needed to be loosened, as the video instructor explained to perform.  Of course some poses were more difficult than others, but the challenge to dig into the muscle and visualize them lengthening as oppose to contracting with resistance machines and bodyweight exercises was incredibly delightful.  Renewal, even.

I’d like to practice more with Yoga.  Not just for the flexibility and balance concept.  But because delving into the realm of meditation .. well I can profit greatly from this.  It’s the other side of evenness of peace for mind, body, soul and spirit for me.

And you?

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