Ballet News Reviews | Ballet Beautiful
Who did Hollywood actress turn to when she needed to play a ballet dancer convincingly, transforming her body into a long, lean physique with taut arms, a strong core, defined muscles and the famous ramrod straight posture, for the film Black Swan, which went on to win an Academy Award ? Former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers. Why ? Bowers had become a fitness instructor following injuries which kept her off stage, defining her philosophy that a healthy body is about confidence and flexibility not fad diets. She spent time working out how to recover her own health and fitness during recovery from injury and now has published a new book. Called Ballet Beautiful, it is divided into three parts – mindset, methods and lifestyle. Also, as you can see, Ballet Beautful promises visibel results in two weeks so it’s perfect if you are jetting off on holiday or have a wedding, graduation or big event coming up.
So, what’s all the fuss about ?
Everyone knows you can’t look like a ballet dancer unless you put in the hours of hard training, but Bowers claims that you can achieve some of the core components of a ballet dancer’s physique with targeted exercises, while setting achievable goals such as losing weight if you need to at a steady rate of around 1-2 pounds a week.
The Ballet Beautiful programme consists of a classic 60 minute Ballet beautiful workout as well as specific 15 minute Ballet Beautiful Blasts to tone highlighted areas – so there are Swan Arms and a Plié Workout, among others. Step by step, Bowers guides you through the routines with clear diagrams and lots of encouragement, which is vital as the routines are far from easy.
There are five Ballet Beautiful lifestyle principles :
Eat well and often.
Substitute for satisfaction.
Forgive and move on.
To begin with you’ll tackle your own mindset so that you are ready to beat the challenges, such as “I’m too tired to do to the gym” and then you’ll work out your own goals and begin tp pay attention to how you feel. There’s a round-up of the ballet terms used in the exercise programmes – coupé, plié, tendu, rond de jambe, assemblé, arabesque etc, along with diagrams showing you the five positions of the feet and arms in ballet. Stretching is vital in any exercise programme and here it’s covered in full, with photographs of Bowers showing you what you need to do. I’m pleased to see Bowers emphasising the importance of hydration during exercise and her personal story highlights how much of a difference it can make to your performance.
Once you move into the Ballet Beautiful Blasts, you can try Swan Arms, which Bowers loves because she says the exercises allow her to connect with a ballet that is one of her favourites.
The Blasts are challenging and aim to transform your arms, legs, butt and abs. The advantage is that you can do a Blast anywhere – the park, at home, in the gym – wherever and whenever you have the time. You can mix and match them according to how much time you have or what your body needs. Bowers wants you to think of the Blasts as steps in a ballet class, and she says that even if you only have 15 minutes a day you will still see “incredible changes.” If you only have 15 minutes to work out a week, Bowers says that her Cardio Series Body Blast is the one for you.
The Ballet Beautiful book explains why dieting is a waste of time and what you need to do to get on the right track and stay there. You already know the five principles, and here they are again to help you reach your goals. Bowers offers guidelines regarding what to eat, how to prepare it, shopping tips, favourite snacks, eating out and travelling.
Towards the end you’re given an idea of what a typical Ballet Beautiful week looks like, with food suggestions mixed with the workouts. There is also a selection of recipes for you to try.
Overall it’s a comprehensive approach that has been honed over time and if you enjoy a challenge and are reasonably self-motivated then you may well find it very useful, though the book is suitable for all abilities. Bowers says ” I work with a wide range of clients : women in their late thirties who want their bodies back after childbirth; forty-something women who have been so busy building their careers and taking care of kids (or not) that they haven’t worked out in a decade; students and young models who wish to add muscle and definition to their lean frames; and women in their sixties who are fighting the effects of aging and staying youthful by strengthening their bones and muscles in a way that is not high-impact or stressful.”
You aren’t likely to get the exact body of a ballet dancer unless you’ve put in the years of training and are predisposed to begin with, but you can work on the core elements that make up a ballet dancer’s body with Ballet Beautiful.
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.