Ballerina to the New York City Ballet at age sixteen, founder of her own fitness empire some fourteen years later, trainer to Natalie Portman for her Academy Award-winning role in the Black Swan.
Mary Helen Bowers and her innovative Ballet Beautiful program assert that the secret to a toned, graceful figure is uncovering the dancer within us.
– How did you come up with Ballet Beautiful?
I am a professional ballerina and danced for 10 years with the New York City Ballet. Every movement, exercise and stretch in the Ballet Beautiful program is inspired by my experience as a professional dancer and my love for fitness. I originally created the workout to keep my body in top condition, sleek and toned on and off stage.
Today Ballet Beautiful is about sharing this knowledge with others and giving women all over the world access to a beautiful, elegant and challenging workout that builds a dancer’s strong but feminine form.
– So, ballet is not only for professionals, but for everyday women, too. How hard is it to get into shape?
Absolutely! Ballet is for everyone! The key to getting into great shape is consistency. Working out for 3 to 6 hours a week, every week. I recommend 3 hours per week as a minimum and most women see results in as little as 2 weeks. The workout is very targeted so you can see the changes fast!
“THE KEY TO GETTING INTO
GREAT SHAPE IS CONSISTENCY”
– Can anyone do Ballet Beautiful? Is there an age limit or a certain physical condition prerequisite?
The majority of our clients are women from 18-65 years old. There are no physical prerequisites but you do want to be sure that your doctor has cleared you for workout.
– How much time does a woman need to work out per week in order to achieve a “ballet beautiful” body?
In an ideal world one would workout for an hour per day, 5-6 days a week. But life isn’t always ideal, so aim for a minimum of 3 hours per week. Everything beyond that is a bonus! If you have a big event on the horizon, like a wedding, step it up as much as you can in the weeks leading up to the event.
– You helped Natalie Portman prepare for her role in the Black Swan. What were the basic steps she took in order to get ready?
Natalie’s role in Black Swan was very intense, and so was our preparation. We began training together over a year before the movie went into production. We used a mix of Ballet Beautiful exercises, actual ballet classes, pointe work and swimming for extra cross training and endurance.
– The live online ballet courses are refreshing. How do they work?
The live online classes are so much fun! It’s amazing to know that we offer global, live, interactive classes that anyone can access from their laptop. All you’ll need is a webcam and Internet access –we host the classes on our website. I’m obsessed with technology and always finding ways to make the workout more accessible. I love my role as a tech entrepreneur and everything that Ballet Beautiful is doing to introduce this new element to fitness. The biggest barrier to exercise for most people is time. With our live classes, you have the accountability and interaction of a live workout with a personal trainer available from the privacy of your home. It’s an incredibly modern delivery and a total time saver! We are also getting ready to introduce a new Custom Workout using online streaming videos. The workout will be customized to each member’s goals and availability. Because the workouts are online they can be accessed any time from any location!
– Except from the body, is it imperative to exercise the soul, the spirit as well? And how?
Of course! Working out isn’t just about losing weight and getting fit. It’s about being kind to your body and your soul. I talk a lot about this in my book, Ballet Beautiful. To get the most out of your workout you need to get into a positive and healthy mind set, where you look at exercise and eating healthy as a way to pamper and take care of your body, not a punishment for going overboard!
– Do you believe in diets?
I dislike dieting! My approach to nutrition is very balanced and more in the Mediterranean style. I eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins like chicken and fish and healthy fats like olive oil, olives, nut and avocados. I personally feel that dieting is a waste of time. It is important to nourish the body with the right foods rather than deprive it altogether.
– What is your beauty routine?
My schedule is very busy so I’m very DIY when it comes to beauty. I drink lots of water, green tea and find that eating fresh fruit and veggies makes my skin glow from the inside. I use sunscreen everyday, no matter what’s happening with the weather because it’s easier to prevent wrinkles than get rid of them! On weekends, I love an at home spa day –I will soak my muscles in a hot bath with bath oils and Epsom salts, use a face mask and paint my nails.
– How do you stay in such a wonderful shape?
Ballet Beautiful is a huge part of my life. I use the workout at least 3 hours per week, even when I travel. I find that when you are really busy it is also helpful to do 15 or 30 minutes workout in the mornings, and again at night. Sometimes I don’t have a full hour all at once but I try very hard to fit in 3 hours a week.
– Do you have a product you never part with?
I cannot live without my Ballet Beautiful leg warmers. They are a perfect accessory for any workout, and look adorable as street wear too! When it comes to beauty, I really love the concealer, highlighter and cream blush from RMS. They are made from coconut oils and they are very light and good for your skin, covering up dark circles and adding a beautiful glow, especially when I want to keep my makeup very light and natural. These three products, plus a little pencil for my brows is all I really need!
– What is your inspiration?
I’m incredibly inspired by the women I work with. My clients are strong, ambitious women that are redefining the concept of doing it all.
SHOP BALLET BEAUTIFUL
“In the end I learned that you must treat your body with kindness and love to truly look and feel your best. ”