I would love to be able to tell you that I worked out religiously every day during my very recent pregnancy with triplets. Though I did do light yoga and stretching I did get quite a bit bigger and cow-like than I ever dreamed which made moving around, well, nearly impossible the last few months.
Pregnancy left me with tighter muscles and less stamina than I had ever had before. Even worse, it left me with jiggly arms and thighs which is, for anyone that knows me, absolutely unacceptable.
I danced for many years until a broken ankle sidelined me. I stopped dancing and working out after the injury. Living in London I did yoga, pilates (both mat and equipment), and walked everywhere. I kept a flat in Paris and don’t think I took taxi one whenever there. Same went for pretty much anywhere in Europe I went. I was in good shape and I didn’t have to do any strenuous cardio or any real equipment workout to stay that way.
It wasn’t until after the birth of my babies I really started to miss dance. Mostly because I knew I had to start doing something to regain the tautness of my now entirely too wobbly “bits” but also tame my out of control (lack of) core muscles that had been stretched beyond recognition. The thought of the typical “gym” life has always left me a little cold but with three new babies added to my family along with client schedules and other obligations, it didn’t interest me at all.
I was thrilled to find Mary Helen Bower’s Ballet Beautiful. Remember Natalie Portman in Black Swan?? This is the woman behind Portman’s incredible transformation. I cannot stress enough how amazing it is. First, I get to reconnect with the dancer in me in the comfort of my own home (and believe me when I say I have lost some of my form). Second, between DVDs like her Ballet Beautiful:: Body Blast to her streaming videos to her über innovative live classes, this method means to get you in tip top shape with a long, lean, elegant posture and strong, taut but flexible muscles in no time.
At first the routines look alarmingly simple. I remember introducing the program to one of my clients who happened to love the gym and her first reaction was “You can’t possibly achieve any results by simply flapping your arms.” Fast forward 15 minutes. “I can’t believe the burn!” Fast forward one more day and the muscle soreness she experienced was enough for me to be smug for a week.
I love this program so much I subscribed to the custom workout which lets me plug in how much time I have to devote to making over my body and helps me design a workout just for me all in 15 minute intervals which allows me to break up my workout schedule when needed. (And triplets will ensure I need it!) It also gives me access to the entire streaming library which contains every workout Mary Helen via streaming video rather than download. (She has chosen to stream her videos instead of download which some will find a problem if you don’t have internet access all the time but thus far that hasn’t been an issue for me . What’s more is I can use them from my iPhone, iPad, or computer anywhere I do have internet access.)
You can buy access to individual streaming videos for $10 but if you are committed, like me, to connecting to your inner ballerina and getting that dancer’s body, it works out more cost effective to go for the subscription.
What’s even more genius is, when I have a little time, I can sign up for a live class anywhere I am in the world all online. I can schedule in either for a group class or even a private lesson and, thanks to technology, I can see the instructor and she can see me which means she can correct my form or change up the routine when needed. For me, living abroad and traveling often, this gives me no room for excuses and allows me to keep up my getting into shape without having to change my workout plan. I can be in Tokyo and still catch a class from her SoHo studio! How crazy is that?
I bet you want to know if I actually see results. In the short three weeks since I have been using Ballet Beautiful, I have seen definition in my arms and thighs returning and I can feel my core tightening up though I haven’t actually seen my muscles through the “post baby belly” yet. The jiggle is definitely tightening up.
For the detractors that may say ballet or Ballet Beautiful isn’t strenuous enough, I urge each and every one to take a class and tell me if you can tie your shoes the next day. The workouts our quite doable though you will burn during some of the different exercises. This is a workout you won’t feel the need to cheat through. Beware though, you will feel it during the workout, after the workout, and the day (and days) after in muscles you didn’t even know you had.
Ballet Beautiful is my pick of the year for best workout program, barre none. (Get it??)