Friday, August 31, 2012
Everyone loves the lean, toned bodies of ballet dancers, and many people look at them and think, they're so lucky. Except luck has nothing to do with it. Okay, luck has a little bit to do with it (i.e. the dancers who get into the top companies have the right point, and are naturally flexible, with small frames, etc..) -- but mostly, dancers look the way they do because they are in constant motion, attending class and rehearsals for hours and hours, every single day. Ballet takes incredible strength, flexibility and cardio endurance -- and it shows.
Like many women, I took ballet as a girl, so I know that all those rond des jambes, frappes, arabesques, battements and other exercises really work your body out. I have a couple of ballet-inspired workouts in my DVD collection, and I always have my eye out for more, so when I heard that Natalie Portman's Black Swan trainer had a ballet-inspired workout DVD series, I was intrigued.
Mary Helen Bowers is a former New York City Ballet dancer and the creator of Ballet Beautiful, a set of techniques and workouts that build and maintain the beauty, strength and grace of a ballerina. Her 2 previous Ballet Beautiful DVDs, the Classic 60-Minute Workout and the Ballet Beautiful Blast Series, have both gotten rave reviews on Amazon (and did I mention she trained Natalie Portman?), so I was eager to get a review copy of her DVD and try it for myself.
Here's more information about the DVD:
Mary Helen Bowers, Natalie Portman’s trainer for her Academy Award®-winning role in
Black Swan and former New York City Ballet dancer, is sharing her ballet-inspired exercises through the Lionsgate Home Entertainment release of Ballet Beautiful: Total Body Workout on DVD, Digital Download and On Demand. This overall routine will help sculpt sleek and strong legs, arms, butt, abs and upper body to get a tight, toned and elegant physique. Workouts include Bridge Series, Abs, Inner Thigh, Outer Thigh, Arms and Standing that focus on trouble areas while increasing flexibility and improving posture. This targeted mat work will help create a graceful dancer’s body in no time! In addition to the six complete exercises, the Ballet Beautiful: Total Body Workout DVD includes custom workout and music-only options and will be available on September 4 for the suggested retail price of $14.98.
· Bridge Series: A challenging series of bridge exercises that sculpt and tone the muscles on the inside and back of the legs, butt, inner thighs, hips and abs
· Abs: A targeted abdominal workout that strengthens your center of balance and sculpts a lean waist
· Inner Thigh: Focused exercises that strengthen and tone the inner thighs, key to sculpting a ballerina's long, powerful legs
· Outer Thigh: A challenging workout for the outside of the hip and thigh. These exercises tighten and tone the outside of the hip, lengthening the line of the legs
· Arms: Upper body and arm exercises that quickly sculpt and tone your arms, shoulders and back and improve posture without any weights or equipment
· Standing: Dance inspired standing exercises with cardio elements
Ballet Beautiful founder Mary Helen Bowers is an accomplished ballerina and visionary fitness expert, a leader in the global trend of ballet-inspired fitness. Her signature Ballet Beautiful Method uses customized, low-impact cardio and toning exercises to sculpt a strong, graceful physique and beautiful posture. She has been sought out by A-list actresses, celebrities and supermodels around the world including Kirsten Dunst, Helena Christensen, Liv Tyler, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jaime King and Zooey Deschanel. She opened her first studio in New York City’s Soho neighborhood in May of 2011. Mary Helen’s new book, Ballet Beautiful, just launched in June of 2012. In addition, she has a global online training program and has sold thousands of videos in over 50 countries worldwide.
This is a great DVD! It's not too difficult to follow (even for someone with zero ballet experience), and you don't need much space (just enough to stretch out) or equipment (just a mat). And boy, does it burn! The day after I did this DVD I felt muscles I forgot I ever had. I also love the custom workout option, which lets me alternate workout focus and length, depending on how much time I have, and which muscles are still aching from the previous workout.
By the way, my understanding is that this DVD is essentially the same as the Classic 60-Minute Workout, with the ability to create custom workouts -- so if you already have that DVD, you probably don't want to get this one as well.
Also, I wish this DVD came with a digital copy; it would be so nice to load this workout on my iPad and take it on vacation! Note, the Ballet Beautiful website also sells streaming videos of targeted-area workouts ($8-$10 for a 15-minute workout), but they are just that -- streaming. You can't download the videos, so you need an internet connection.
The Bottom Line
Stick with this video, and you'll definitely see an improvement in flexibility and strength.
Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information is provided by Lionsgate Entertainment and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.