Ballet Beautiful | TESTED
I recently reviewed Ballet Beautiful, by Mary Helen Bowers but in addition to reading the book I wanted to fully test the routines and see how they would work. Heather McGowan is a vocational ballet student with the Bolshoi Academy in Russia. On holiday for the summer, I asked Heather to read the book and choose which elements to try in order to keep her flexibility and strength to a high standard because there are no ballet classes for her to take in the style that she needs, while she’s away from the school.
This is what Heather says about Ballet Beautiful :
“After reading the book through for the first time, I decided to set goals for mainly my arms using the ‘Swan Arms’ workout for the first few weeks as my arms and back are places I feel I need to gain strength. The fact that this was the workout Natalie Portman used for the film Black Swan made it so much more interesting as there was such a public limelight on how Portman managed to get her ‘ballet physique’ for the film. I, personally, was very intrigued to discover that this is similar to the personal workouts she was using!
The Ballet Beautiful book says that you should think of the contents of the book as a lifestyle rather than a workout, and where I was more than happy to adapt to that with the workouts, I was happy with my own diet and I didn’t feel it was necessary for me personally to take on her diet. The workouts were all quite challenging, and on my first time trying some of them out I could ‘feel the burn’ before I had even gotten halfway! The book promises results within 2 weeks and the workout definitely got easier which means that I was obviously getting stronger.
Mary Helen Bowers suggests doing 1 hour, 3 days a week minimum. I tried to do more than this as I have a lot of time on my hands and I am trying to stay in shape over the summer! Depending on time, I would do a variety of the different workouts, also according to where I felt was a weakness. For me, I liked to always try to do abs (Abdominals workout) and arms (Swan Arms workout), and then according to how tired I felt or whether I had time I would try to incorporate some of the other workouts. I like to mix and match the exercises. The hour workouts, such as the ‘Bridge Series’ were almost Pilates based with a more balletic twist, which being a ballet student were a great combination as there was never a worry of ‘am I building up this muscle group too much ?’ as Mary Helen was a ballet dancer herself.
A big bonus in the book were the little side comments (pointers helping you out with what to think of etc) which, for me, were very relatable and she had a positive resolution for everything: from fear of the scales to motivation tips – there was an answer for everything.
I mentioned that the ‘Swan Arms’ workout was one of my favorites. This is because you can really see and feel the effects. I love how Bowers has quite literally taken the exercise straight out of Swan Lake, which shows the direct relation to ballet.
I tried all of the workouts from the book, but there were several which really worked for me. I like to use; ‘Swan Arms’- for arms and back, ‘Bridge Series’- for hamstrings and butt, ‘Abdominals’- with focus on lower abs, and the ‘Inner Thighs’ which gives me an all round workout in the places I need work.
Overall I really feel that I have toned up using this workout, although to another person I feel that it would have probably taken longer than the promised 2 weeks for them to notice. I have been doing the workouts for over a month and I am sure that the results are evident to others now. Alongside this I found many answers to some of the typical ballet puzzles that all students face throughout training, such as; things to eat, and ‘which muscles are needed to be toned for this ballet move?’
My overall main goal was to maintain the best fitness and tone possible whilst at home, and I feel that with the help of Ballet Beautiful, I achieved this.
Ballet Beautiful is very motivating and positive. I definitely aim to carry on using these workouts, especially whilst I am in England over the summer holidays.”
Ballet Beautiful is available in the US and the UK as listed below. If you are in the US then you have the added option of purchasing the Ballet Beautiful DVD as well as a Ballet Beautiful Bundle and the Ballet Beautiful Blasts. The Ballet Beautiful book is available in paperback.
I recommend you purchase a yoga mat to do these exercises on, and here’s one :