Most helpful positive review
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Can't get enough Ballet Beautiful!
on July 18, 2013
It hardly needs to be (re)said but I thought I'd pitch in with the praise in case anyone's on the edge of buying this: I LOVE Ballet Beautiful and have all of Mary Helen Bower's dvds thus far. I've also pre-ordered the cardio one coming out in Sept. 2013. Mary Helen's entire philosophy is so ridiculously simple and yet she's virtually the only 'fitness guru' that I've seen/heard saying it so far: everything in moderation. Don't kill yourself, don't starve yourself, don't obsess, don't focus on the pain or punishment of workouts - just do what's good for your body and it will start to come naturally. As someone with a history of eating disorders (and knowing that Mary Helen trained Natalie Portman to look like an over-achieving maniac in Black Swan) I was nervous about taking on a ballerina's approach to diet and fitness: you look at Mary Helen's body and you're sure it's going to be regimentally strict like, hello iceburg lettuce and endless plies. So imagine my surprise when I got this dvd (and others) and saw that none of these 'workouts' are longer than 16 minutes! You can do anything for 16 minutes, right? The first couple weeks of trying the different segments had me rolling on the floor and wondering how anyone could withstand that kind of very targeted muscle-crampage but the key (as Mary Helen explains) is to modify and take breaks as needed so the exercises are bearable as you get strong enough to do them like she does. Don't try to keep up if you're dying - hit pause and stretch it out, then come back to it. You'll be amazed how quickly your body builds strength.
Now, I've been doing BB for about 10 months and I can usually make it all the way through a workout at the same pace as Mary Helen: it's an awesome feeling of measurable progress! I aim to do 2 (or 3, if I have time) BB workout segments, 5 or 6 days a week. I try to alternate muscle groups - e.g. do the arm and bum workouts one day, followed by inner and outer thighs the next, followed by abs and standing series the next, etc. to give all my muscles a chance to recover and rebuild properly. It's weird but your body never seems to fully 'adapt' to these exercises: you will still be feeling the burn months after you start, mostly because you can always push a little higher/further and continue to improve the same muscle groups that way. At the same time, none of the exercises strike me as "Oh I could NEVER do that" and you will be able to do them all, though you might be taking a LOT of breaks initially because yeah, they really do kick your butt into ballerina shape. However, with the soft piano music and Mary Helen's positive, lovely instruction style, it's easy to remain calm, grounded, and respectful (rather than judgmental) of your body's current fitness levels. Eventually, the simple exercises are so easy to remember that you'll be able to just do them anywhere, anytime. I was travelling for two months and kept up my BB toning but just flopping down on the carpet with my iPod a few times a week to sneak some exercises in - so easy and it worked great!
Tips/side notes: I find it really nice to think of my Ballet Beautiful time as if it were meditation or a nice cup of tea: it's a treat for your body, not a punishment! I like to slip into some tights and some cheap ballet slippers I bought to feel more 'in the zone' too. Also, do not be discouraged if you initially find you're not losing any weight or, if you're relatively slim, you even GAIN some weight with this DVD: it's because lean muscle weighs so much more than fat and before it helps you burn some fat off, it has to build up a bit; when I started I gained 4 or 5 pounds before I lost any pounds/inches but it all sorted itself out soon.
At this point, I want to be thorough because I really appreciate when people leave detailed reviews about products' performance, but I can't accurately review this product without sounding like a jerk/narcissist so here goes: I will honestly catch sight of myself in the mirror sometimes and think, 'WHOA is that MY butt/legs/arms??' lol People I haven't spoken to in years comment on my facebook photos wondering what the heck I am doing to look like this and all the compliments have been a wonderful incentive to continue. I'm slimmer than I've been in a long time, but I don't have the gaunt/deprived/skinny look that takes over when you're pushing yourself way too hard. Instead I feel like I walk around with this glowing strength and vitality - an amazing contrast to the "man, I'm so hungry and tired" feeling that a lot of diets or workout routines instilled in me. You really only have to look at Mary Helen to see the ultimate results this workout gives: yes, she has a leg-up (ha! ballet pun) in the form of years and years of training, but once you do the workouts you can tell that these really are the exercises she is using to maintain that fantastic physique.
In conclusion, this DVD is for you if any of the following apply: a) the pretty, feminine, graceful aspects of ballet workouts appeal to you; b) you are looking for a sustainable, doable fitness plan and not a quick, drastic change in appearance or weight (you will change both but it definitely takes months, not weeks, with these exercises); c) you're willing to commit 20-30 minutes most days of the week, and keep a reasonably healthy diet (no restrictions: focus on what you should have rather than what you shouldn't, and treat yourself to small portions of your naughty favourites). That's it!
Realistically, I'd say this DVD may NOT be for you if: a) you like a really high-energy cardio-based workout (maybe the Sept cardio dvd will address this need though?); b) you think you'd like to lose a lot of weight relatively quickly (however, keep in mind this really isn't a great idea for so many reasons...); c) you're looking for actual dance/ballet class workouts - this is ballet-based exercise, not actual dance class format.
Hope this helps someone make an informed decision and apologies for the length of the post - it's hard not to gush about this awesome workout style once you've tried it and seen the results!