I spent last night and this morning shopping around for a new workout program to follow. I slacked off this week and I’m itching to find a new structured plan. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve mainly been working on strength with gymnastics rings and dumbbells, and I’ve seen some great gains in a short time. However my lower back has been bugging me a little for awhile, which is a sure sign my core needs some extra work. At my day job I do a lot of twisting, bending, reaching and just about every other uncomfortable position you can think of. So in short – I need a workout program that targets all my core and stabilizing muscles, while still building my overall strength and cardiovascular endurance.
I looked at some gyms in my area and considered getting back into powerlifting, but as much as I think lifting is amazing, I’ve honestly not been in the mood for explosive power workouts lately. Which brings me to a point I want to make: There’s nothing wrong with structuring your workouts according to whatever mood you are in, as long as you are still doing something that will improve your functional fitness.
[Stay tuned for a list of the best workouts for every mood, I’ll be posting it later today]
I also considered using the indoor running track at some health clubs nearby but I would also have to invest in much better shoes to do that or my knees would kill me. Plus after a long day at work I don’t often feel like working out in public. Now I do want to get into running again, but it’s not something I’ll be doing every day. In my opinion running alone doesn’t suffice as a comprehensive workout program. It’s great – but supplementing running workouts with strength training and core work is crucial.
All that research led me back to a type of workout I’ve tried on several occasions – Ballet Beautiful. It fits all my needs and I’m excited to start doing it regularly. I know in the past I’ve been into some really intense programs, like CrossFit and Interval Training with weights. Let’s just say that over the past few years I’ve developed a serious craving (aka addiction) for intensity in my exercise regimen. When I’m done I want to feel like there’s nothing more I could have given to that workout.
Contrary to what you might think, BB offers plenty of intensity. Mary Helen Bowers makes the workouts look 10x easier than they actually are. Trust me. I think people (including myself at one point) tend to underestimate the amount of raw strength and endurance it takes to condition your body for ballet. And there is good reason for that – a good dancer should make their movements look easy and light.
Who is Mary Helen Bowers?
From her website: “Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Mary Helen trained at Manhattan’s prestigious School of American Ballet before being invited to join with the New York City Ballet at age 16. Mary Helen danced for a decade with NYCB at Lincoln Center and on stages around the world before completing her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University and founding Ballet Beautiful. At the heart of the Ballet Beautiful method is Mary Helen’s expertise; the exquisite grace, beauty and strength that are the essence of a ballerina’s form.” She used the Ballet Beautiful method to train Natalie Portman for her exclusive role in the award-winning movie, Black Swan. She also uses her method to prepare Victoria’s Secret models for competition. To read her full bio on her website, click here.
Here’s an overview of what BB has to offer. Each workout is based on real ballet conditioning exercises, with some excellent stretching breaks throughout so you build strength and flexibility at the same time. The exercises consist of small, strength-building movements that target all the tiny stabilizing muscles, as well as more dynamic, full-body moves to get your heart rate up and challenge your endurance. Workouts vary in length, focus, and difficulty level. I personally find the cardio workouts to be the hardest because they incorporate full body ballet moves that my body is not used to doing. It requires coordination and concentration, not to mention a ton of strength – all of which is perfect because how will I ever grow if I don’t challenge myself in those areas?
As of 1/18/2018, the Custom Workout subscription costs $40 per month and gives you unlimited access to MHB’s online streaming workouts as well as videos that break down each individual exercise in detail. You can program your workouts according to how much time you can devote to exercise each week, as well as your personal goal (Fat Blaster, Full Body, Abs & Arms, Legs & Butt). You can also buy DVDs, books, and individual streaming videos online.
If you don’t believe these workouts can be effective, for whatever reason, I challenge you to try the workout below. It’s a sample of some of the best BB exercises and I guarantee that if you aren’t used to this type of workout, your muscles will be dead in no time.
Ok. I think I’ve stressed how hard these workouts are enough 😉 But to be clear, I also don’t want to scare you away. You don’t have to be a dancer or crazy flexible to do these workouts. Honestly, none of us are going to look just like Mary Helen. She danced for the NYC ballet for 10 years. She’s elite. Which makes her a great source for effective ballet-inspired workouts, but you certainly shouldn’t expect to look like her just yet.
Aside from the exercise combinations themselves, I also love this program because MHB is such a sweet, graceful person and I really enjoy following her lead. I love the piano music in the background. Honestly the whole atmosphere around the workouts is so peaceful and soothing it puts me in an almost meditative state even though my muscles are shaking and on fire. Weird, I know. But it’s nice to slow down, focus, and push myself all at once. Not to mention the fact that the workouts don’t require any equipment and can be done anywhere.
So yeah. Anyone can and should try Ballet Beautiful workouts – I’ll keep you posted on my personal progress. I’ll also be doing rings and DB workouts a couple times a week to maintain those skills and target my larger muscle groups.
What is a new workout or exercise you’re trying? Have you ever danced ballet? Leave your thoughts in the comments!