This NYC ballet dancer trains Victoria's Secret models

  • ModelMiranda Kerr is just one of the high-profile clients ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers has trained with her ballet-integrated workout, Ballet Beautiful.
  • The fitness regimen has a strong celebrity following – Bowers has worked with other Victoria’s Secret models like Lily Aldridge, as well as actress Natalie Portman for her role in the movie “Black Swan.”
  • Watch the video above to learn how she created a workout that gives Victoria’s Secret Angels the strength and posture to hold up those wings.

Mary Helen Bowers has been training Victoria’s Secrets models for years with Ballet Beautiful Fitness. After dancing with New York City Ballet for 10 years, she took a break to go back to school. After graduating from Columbia, she worked with Natalie Portman on “Black Swan,” and subsequently created her ballet-integrated exercise regimen. Since launching, she has gained a strong celebrity following, including several Victoria’s Secret Angels.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Mary Helen Bowers: I’m Mary Helen Bowers, founder of Ballet Beautiful Fitness. I danced with New York City Ballet for 10 years. Ballet Beautiful is really born from my experience as a professional dancer and that whole life experience of being a dancer, which is so incredibly physical, where you are using your body to express your art. And I had to learn, and it took a lot of trial and error for me to figure out the best system to take care of my body, to prevent injury, to feel my strongest, my leanest, and my best.

Once I left the company, I took a break from dancing. I needed time where I wasn’t in a dance studio, where I didn’t have that pressure to look a certain way, to perform a certain way. And when I wanted to start working out I had gained weight, my body had changed. I also didn’t want to go back into a ballet studio, I felt self-conscious. So I started picking up with my old exercises. I would do 45 minutes a day. And my body started to change. I got leaner and really all of my ballet muscles kind of came back into use. And with that process, my whole body began to change.

I started sharing my workout with friends. All of our clients have really been built through word of mouth. One of the first Victoria’s Secret Angels that I worked with was Miranda Kerr, who is a long-time client and a very dear friend of mine. We’re still working together today. And it’s been fun to train with people like Miranda and like Lily Aldridge. Through having a baby, through, maybe, a second pregnancy.

For some people it’s through multiple seasons of doing a show like Victoria’s Secret, or a big film, or runway moment. But it’s been really exciting, too, for me, to take these women through some really momentous moments in their careers. And be there to support them, to help them feel strong, to help them feel confident, and perform at their best level as well.

With the Angels, they’re training really, really, hard. I’m using ballet inside the workout, but I’m thinking of it as a really, really focused, crazy, I want the deepest burn. I want to give them the biggest impact. We’re trying to make their abs as toned as possible, to make their butts as lifted and toned as possible, to give them sleek definition through their legs. And beautiful posture and strength to hold, those wings for example, which really weigh a lot.

So it’s not that I’m giving them a workout that someone else couldn’t do. But certainly we are doing a really intensified version of the program.

A mutual friend that I had danced with, with New York City Ballet, connected me with Natalie. She was in town. She was looking for a new trainer and for somebody to help prepare her for “Black Swan.” She danced really seriously until she was about 12 or 13, when her acting career took off. So we had to kind of bring her up to speed with her dancing.

“Black Swan,” I think, played a huge role in bringing ballet into the spotlight, making it cool, making it hip and relevant in pop culture. And of course, Natalie’s role in that was huge. And I was so fortunate to have been such a big part of that film. And it also brought ballet fitness into the press, into I think, the sort of lexicon of the everyday woman.

You don’t have to be a professional dancer or to have trained your body for a dozen years to experience ballet, to bring it into your home. You feel better, you have more energy. Your body feels stronger. You start to see results. It’s really, really motivating. And as you get going, you can build that momentum to make fitness a more regular part of your life, a larger part of your life. You can prioritise.

And it takes some work to say, “I’m gonna carve this time out just for me.” Don’t wait for life to be perfect because it’s busy and it’s messy, and you just have to start where you are.

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