As someone who’s interested in ballet and keeping fit, I’ve been very keen to try the ballet-inspired exercises in Ballet Beautiful, written by former ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers. Although I’ve previously attended several adult beginners ballet classes, I’ve always found it more convenient to work out at home.
Mary Helen is best known for helping Natalie Portman get a ballerina physique for her role in the 2010 film Black Swan. She moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to New York aged 15 to join the School of American Ballet (the official school of the New York City Ballet, which she later joined).
After 10 years of dancing, she received her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University and founded Ballet Beautiful, which offers 24-7 global training classes online. If it’s good enough for Alexa Chung, Gigi Hadid and Zooey Deschanel then it’s good enough for me!
In the Ballet Beautiful book, Mary Helen encourages building strength and muscle tone in your body. It’s great for home workouts. You don’t even need ballet experience before following the exercises!
Mary Helen’s ballet steps have been developed over the last 15 years, which shows her intense dedication. Ballet Beautiful is a total body workout and the routines will even improve your posture, so no more hunching over your computer!
The book also looks closely at nutrition. Mary Helen discourages food deprivation and advocates healthy eating instead of restrictive diets.
Apparently you’ll see a difference within just two weeks. I’m impressed because I’ve already noticed more muscle definition in my arms from the Swan Arms technique (more on that later!).
There are targeted workouts for different areas of the body, whether you want to tone your arms, bum, stomach or thighs. If you’re worried about being less than graceful (who isn’t?!) don’t worry, there’s no actual ballet dancing involved, just easy to follow steps.
Following Ballet Beautiful helps protect your body against any joint or muscle pain. It’s certainly better than pounding the pavements in your running trainers if you have aches and pains! Mary Helen’s tone throughout the book is encouraging and positive. Regardless of your goals, there’s something for everyone!
The book is split into three parts. Part one looks at developing a healthy mindset, whether you want to lose weight or tone up. Part two is where we get down to the nitty gritty of the actual exercises. You can choose between the Classic 60 Minute Workout or the 15 Minute Ballet Beautiful Blasts (perfect if you’re short for time).
If you don’t know your arabesque from your plié, there’s a section for ballet terminology as well as illustrations of first – fifth ballet feet and arm positions.
Swan Arms. Swan Arms. Swan Arms. Swan Arms. No, that isn’t a typo. I’m just so obsessed with them I had to write it more than once! I’ve been doing a lot of the Sideways Swan Arms movements and I’m really looking forward to trying the others! Photographs of Mary Helen practising the moves accompany the text, which is extremely handy.
Part three is all about healthy eating. There’s helpful dietary advice along with lots of yummy recipes. There aren’t any crash diets, just wholesome food.
I’m very impressed with this book. It’s a different approach to traditional exercising. Who wants to slave away at a busy gym when you can workout at home? I for one, HATE exercising in front of other people. I’m quite competitive so if someone’s on a cross trainer next to me you know I’m going to work twice as hard to outdo them. Oh dear…
All hail Ballet Beautiful!
Ballet Beautiful is available from Amazon, £14.99