I am so inspired by dancers! They are elegant, athletic, strong, and graceful all at once. Many of them have the lean, toned body that so many women want. :)
Because of this, I’m not surprised that lots of girls ask me my opinion about the exercise program Ballet Beautiful. I’m excited to share more about the program with you to help you make the best possible decision about your workout routine.
Mary Hellen Bowers was a ballerina with the New York City Ballet for 10 years, and she trained with Manhattan’s School of American Ballet. After retiring from her professional career as a ballerina, she attended Columbia University and started Ballet Beautiful. This program is based on ballet moves to help women achieve a lean, graceful body.
Women don’t need to have dance experience to do these workouts. The exercises are designed to help build strength and flexibility throughout the entire body.
Mary wants Ballet Beautiful to inspire women and help them feel their best. She acknowledges that different things work for different women and that an individual woman’s needs might change during her life.
Because of this, Mary tries to listen to her body. She notices when she’s tired or hungry. Mary encourages other women to do the same and to adjust the program to suit their needs.
This is a 13 minute, low-impact mat workout. Mary is great at explaining the exercises and why they are important to do.
The workout starts out with leg and side stretching, something that Mary value a lot. Stretching is essential to these workouts because they help to prevent injuries, and she emphasises being relaxed while doing them. The stretches also offer some gentle toning, as you do pulses during the stretches too.
After stretching, you do side-lying leg extensions on one side of the body. Mary has you extend the leg up and down as well as back and forth. She encourages you to focus on your posture and core, and she explains the correct form throughout the video. For example, she says it is best not to slack or bend the knee.
After completing one side of side-lying leg extensions, you do more stretches before repeating the extensions on the other side. The video ends with a final stretch.
Because there is only one move in the entire video, this workout might not seem like much. However, the repetition and slow, steady movements cause quite a burn by the end! This workout shouldn’t cause any unwanted bulkiness.
In this 30-minute live stream video (which is also posted on her site for members), Mary leads you through a workout that focuses on the entire lower body: thighs, legs, and butt.
Once again, she starts out with stretches, and she says that doing pulses or rocking back and forth throughout the stretching can make them more effective. The stretches include rolling out her ankles and knees. As a former ballerina, she’s incredibly flexible. Most people watching probably won’t be quite as flexible as her. :)
The workouts include a variety of leg extensions that work both the inner and outer thighs, as well as the butt. She provides specific information about where to place your legs to really feel the exercises targeting all the right muscles.
She stretches after every exercise, and she drinks a lot of water throughout the video. Mary doesn’t seem concerned about the speed at all. Instead, she makes sure that she has perfect form and feels the exercises correctly.
Mary uses a 1 pound ankle weight and, during one exercise, a 1 pound dumbbell. These aren’t necessary, and she doesn’t recommend using heavier weights than this.
These exercises shouldn’t cause too much bulk either, especially if you don’t do them too often. If you are concerned about bulk, you can always try them without the weights too.
At just 9 minutes, this is a short workout that’s meant for women who are post-natal, who have had an injury, are recovering from surgery, or who are simply new to the Ballet Beautiful program.
Mary uses a half dome to lift her body off of the floor, but she says you can use a couch or an ottoman at home too.
Throughout the video, she emphasises good posture, deep breaths, and pulling in your core. Here are the moves she does:
Throughout all these exercises, she takes periodic breaks to stretch the legs, chest, back, and core.
These workouts are primarily about leg extensions and lots of stretching. Her live stream workout is a stand alone workout, but the others could easily be combined with other videos.
I like that you can pick and choose videos from her website to make a full workout. This lets you choose what works well for you and your goals. You can avoid exercises that aren’t good for you. :) Mary also does a great job of explaining the correct form for all the exercises, and she sometimes provides alternatives if you need them.
These videos don’t include typical lower-body moves, like burpees, lunges, or squats. These exercises are great for building muscle in your lower body but if you prefer a leaner look and you’d like to make your thighs smaller and not bigger, avoiding burpees, squats and lunges is a good idea.
This is a 14-minute video that is focused on doing variations of lunges, plies, and plie holds. Mary uses a 1 pound weight, but you can exclude this if you don’t want it. She starts with a standing stretch to help warm up her body.
After this, she begins with a plie. During a plie, you bend your knees and straighten them again. Mary’s feet are turned out slightly while she does this. The move is somewhat similar to a squat, but you don’t go as deep.
Then, she steps into a demi-pointe. In this move, she steps out onto one foot, and she puts all her pressure on the balls of her feet (right under her toes). She simultaneously lifts her other leg and opposite arm back. If you aren’t able to get into a demi-pointe, you can go into an arabesque instead. Here you do the same leg lift, but the difference is that you keep your entire foot on the ground.
The entire video is basically variations of these different moves, but the repetition can be quite challenging.
These moves can all cause some muscle bulk for girls with mesomorph or endomorph bodies. If you’re concerned about bulking up your thighs or calves, be careful not to overdo it. If you have an ectomorph body type and you want to build some muscle, these workouts will most likely work well for you. :)
This is an 11-minute tendu workout. Tendu is a ballet move in which one leg is extended along the floor. You stretch your leg out until only the tip of the toe remains on the floor. You can do it from the front, side, or back. Mary includes this move in a lot of her videos.
In this video, Mary combines plies with tendu, and she uses a resistance band throughout. The band helps build strength and tone.
Like her other videos, this one includes a lot of repetition in movements with some variation, and she does all exercises on both sides of the body. The repetition causes quite a burn, but she includes regular stretching breaks like usual.
Because this routine includes a lot of plies, it can be risky for mesomorph or endomorph girls who want to avoid building too much muscle in their legs.
This is a full-body 18-minute workout.
Like always, she starts out this routine with stretching. After you finish stretching, she has you start in first position, but she also begins some later exercises in the videos in second position.
From these positions, she has you do plies and plie holds, as well as grand plies. Grand plies are like plies, except you go lower until your thighs are horizontal to the floor. She also combines the plies with tendus.
Throughout the video, she integrates bending, lifting, and stretching. Although these moves primarily work the lower body, you raise your arms a lot and use a lot of core strength. Because of this, you end up working out your entire body.
Like the other videos with a lot of plies, this video could definitely cause some bulk in mesomorph or endomorph girls.
The barre videos include a lot of lower-body moves, like plies and some lunges, that can contribute to unwanted muscle development for some women. If you have a mesomorph or endomorph body type, you could easily see some bulk from these videos. But if your goal is muscle gain, then these workouts could work well for you.
I like how well Mary explains these moves, and some people might enjoy learning some basic ballet positions. :)
I see why some people love Ballet Beautiful! Mary is the epitome of elegance, and she does an excellent job of kindly explaining how to do these workouts. If you’re somebody who likes slow, controlled, and lower intensity body weight exercises, you might really like these videos.
The mat exercises are great for girls of all body types, and I love how much stretching they include. However, the barre exercises are risky if you’re a mesomorph or endomorph who wants to avoid adding muscle bulk in your lower body.
Although Mary’s program is a good choice for some women, you shouldn’t combine it with my Lean Legs Program which is designed to be done on its own. Adding other workouts to it will cause you to overwork your muscles, which can cause bulky thighs, injury, and burnout.
You don’t need to combine any other workouts with my program to get lean, toned legs. :)
Love Rachael Xx