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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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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!
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on April 21, 2013
I adore this obsessed with it! Oh, how it burns...but I feel so amazing afterwards! Mary Helen really keeps you aware of your form (keep your stomach in, stretch your legs out, etc.) which helps with posture and maximizes your efforts. Doing these workouts have made me focus more on my posture and have transformed my outlook on exercising. These are workouts you can fit in any time (If you're pressed for time, you can do one or two, and if you have more time you can do the full 60 minutes!) and will make you feel happier in the end :)
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on March 13, 2014
I just love this workout dvd! I like how you can choose the different workouts seperately. There are 6 mini workouts, about 10 min. long, totaling 60 min. Each workout is nicely compressed to really work you out and tire your muscles. At first, you think it's easy but then after doing the repetitions, your muscles are burning! You will probably not sweat alot, since there is no cardio, except for the last session but I like that because you're just concentrating on toning. This way you can choose another day to do your cardio. I would recommend this workout for everyone but for beginners, I would suggest to watch your form, as you need to be somewhat flexible for her workouts.
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on September 8, 2014
After watching Black Swan, i sign up for ballet class during the summer in a reknown ballet school, but i quit after 4 classes (too busy, too far, too pricey). But, my body drastically change after the third class and i only went to 1 class per week!
So, I bought this dvd because i didn't want to give up on it. The exercice on this dvd are very similar to the warm up we did before we actually did ballet. The pointed toes in every toning exercise, the streching, engage your center (very important for posture) and lots of bridges are exercises we did during warm up. After one week, you can see some change in your body. I did it 5 times per week the entire workout (according to the book). After the third week, my body have lean muscle and it looks really good. I highly recommend it. I will try out the cardio dvd as an alternative to spinning or running.
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on April 1, 2013
Tough workout! Results are noticeable pretty quickly, if you are starting out just keep up as best you can you build strength quickly. Easy to memorize the moves so you can do some while travelling, etc. Highly recommend!
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on October 21, 2012
This is an amazing workout! I first read the book "Ballet Beautiful", then I decided to buy the DVD so that I could follow her guided workout.

I like to do yoga, Pilates, and other toning workouts do this suited me perfectly, It's challenging and fun! You feel like a ballerina... graceful and elegant. There is soft piano music playing in the background to set the mood. I even ordered some practice ballet slippers to help further with the mindset.

Mary Helen's techniques are simple but they are practical. She has opened my mind not only to a new exercise but a new, healthier lifestyle. And it's convenient because you don't need any equipment or weights - just a yoga mat. And you can practice it anywhere.
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on June 15, 2013
This is one amazing workout! At first, I found it quite difficult and I still am unable to do all the exercises in the same way as Mary Helen but persistence and consistency is key. After 2 months, I am achieving the results I have been looking for. Very happy with this workout!
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on February 6, 2014
This workout is difficult...but very effective. It starts with the bridge series, then abs, inner and outer thighs, arms, then some ballet moves. The bridge series is HARD but the results are unbelievable. It lifts your butt and it's great for that annoying cellulite.
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on September 16, 2013
Maggie Gyllenhaal's quote on the back of this dvd says Ballet Beautiful makes her feel confident, graceful and strong and that is exactly what it does. If you enjoy ballet or want to experience it for the first time this is an excellent choice. Even after doing the work out once I already saw changes in my body. My posture has improved and I have more energy. Mary Helen is a great instructor as she is calm and gently encouraging. These exercises are very challenging I learned it is best to take her advice and take a break when I need it. I am actually excited to do these workouts every week.
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on September 20, 2014
Didn't like this. Found it very slow and didn't really feel like I got a great workout from it. Wouldn't really recommend.
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