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170 of 176 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best workout -- ever!!
I stumbled on Mary Helen Bowers series of DVD's through Amazon and have enjoyed them, her streaming videos on her website, her book and her live classes. This is DVD is the foundation of my workouts and I alternate the other DVD and streaming videos along with a live class. I have been the DVD workout queen for over 15 years and never, ever, have I enjoyed the results I...
Published 19 months ago by M. Black

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grateful for the public library
I checked out this DVD from my local library with high expectations based on the reviews here. I'm glad I checked it out first, because the mix of pros and cons just didn't amount to a DVD that I wanted to purchase. Good points: I appreciate the straightforward presentation of the production. It's simple--just piano music, and the instructor against a white classical...
Published 13 months ago by Psyflower


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170 of 176 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best workout -- ever!!, September 3, 2012
By 
M. Black (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I stumbled on Mary Helen Bowers series of DVD's through Amazon and have enjoyed them, her streaming videos on her website, her book and her live classes. This is DVD is the foundation of my workouts and I alternate the other DVD and streaming videos along with a live class. I have been the DVD workout queen for over 15 years and never, ever, have I enjoyed the results I have from just 3 months of Ballet Beautiful. I have done them all and enjoyed many, however, I have the best posture, core strength, elongated strong legs and stamina I have ever had (and this is 1 1/2 years after falling from my horse and breaking a vertebrae) and above all - I look forward to my workouts, I enjoy them and feel great afterwards. In fact, I try to get in at least 30 minutes before going to ride, makes a huge difference for me in my performance. I am not sure where the guy who reviewed this is getting his comments from, but I can honestly say the proof is not only in the physical appearance, but I am an avid equestrian and I have had trainers and other riders ask me what I have changed that I am riding so well now - versus even a few months ago. I can now finally do what my trainer is teaching me because I have the physical strength and stamina, finally! Thank you Mary Helen!!
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120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great workout, there's pros and cons, January 19, 2013
I have to say first, the only person I really workout with anymore is Tracy Anderson because I'm very short and petite and I bulk very easily. I used to work out to everything from Jillian Michaels and Jackie Werner to Leslie Sansone or Jennifer Galardi. They were effective in making me stronger but I also looked a little too strong--BULK! I was getting in better shape, yet my were getting tighter from my quads getting overly muscular. Also, the fast paced high-intensity boot camp style of working out just wasn't working for me anymore. When I discovered Tracy Anderson I was in love because she worked the accessory muscles that normal workouts don't get to and she used the attitude position for a lot of her leg/butt workouts which is very ballet inspired, and she also did most of her leg workouts on the floor (on all fours) so instead of just squatting and putting all your weight on your legs, you were doing much more varied movements without the pressure on your legs and many different leg extensions with high repetitions (usually a set of 30 compared to most workouts I had done where they would do only 8 or 10 of the same move)

Flash forward to Mary Helen Bowers. I had done a NYC Ballet workout DVD and loved it but again, if I wasn't careful, I could bulk...so when I saw the preview for Ballet Beautiful I thought it was the mix of both worlds--ballet inspired moves but floor work with high repetitions that reminded me of Tracy Anderson's style. The simple white room, a mat, nothing obnoxious, just to the point. I love that there's classical music in Ballet Beautiful though, because it's much more relaxing and it does make you feel like a ballerina, which I find motivating and inspiring to workout to. I noticed more increase of flexibility with Ballet Beautiful and it's given me better posture, which are things I didn't get from any other workout routine. Mary Helen does high repetitions for serious burn (4 sets of 8 for each move) which is what makes Ballet Beautiful a guaranteed way to change your body. Another difference between her and Tracy Anderson is that Tracy's workouts require more thinking, the moves are more complicated and varied, which is great for muscle confusion, but Ballet Beautiful is simple while still being very effective and challenging.

Here's my rundown of the Total Body Workout (I also got the Body Blast DVD, which is now my favorite of the two, but I will review that on the Body Blast page later)

Bridge Series: This one is a killer. Unfortunately, it really does hit my quads a lot because there is constant weight on your legs and you are holding yourself up on your tip toes, but it's also super effective for the back of the legs and the butt...so it evens out. Very challenging, will do the job.

Abs: It's OK. I personally don't love the rocking motion that is similar to a traditional sit up, and I get annoyed with the ones where you go almost all the way down and back up again. I just find that I can lose my balance and when that happens, it's not as effective for me. I love when she starts doing the rotations and it gets the obliques...but overall, I'm 50/50 on the abs.

Inner Thighs: Another killer. Probably the most challenging for me other than the arms, but I've done it a few times now and it's getting easier. Inner thighs will be SO SORE afterwards, but there is definitely a feeling of accomplishment. I would have liked a little more variety with this segment however, because although it's challenging, I feel like I want a couple of more moves.

Outer Thighs: I like this one, it's also very effective and has a lot of leg extensions with toes pointed doing many reps of very isolated moves. Some people may not like this, I actually like that I can just lay on my side and do these and not have to think too hard about it. It's yet another segment where I kind of wanted "more"...but it's a good workout.

Arms: My favorite part of the workout, by far. However, now that I've done the Swan Arms in Body Blast, I know that this was just a teaser for the burn to come...but this SO helped prepare me. First time I could not get through it, second time I could but I had to take quick 1 second rests, third time I realized I was addicted. The best thing about this is that once you've done it a few times, you don't even need to turn the DVD on. It's VERY repetitive, but SO effective. I've done it about 5 times just sitting in my chair at the computer or in the kitchen while waiting for something to finish cooking. It's also quick, but your arms will quickly start to tone up doing this. If you like this arm workout though, I highly recommended buying her Body Blast DVD for a 15 minute Swan Arm workout....it's similar to this, but much harder.

Standing: Biggest disappointment of the whole thing. It's so short and just a few moves. :( It would be nice to be able to turn this on if I just wanted to do a standing ballet cardio workout, but it's not long enough. It's almost like a cool down to everything else. It will get your heart rate up for a minute, but then it's over.

Overall, I definitely love this...if I didn't, I wouldn't have bothered getting the Body Blast DVD. It did leave me wanting more though (hence purchasing Body Blast) and since I have, I will probably only be turning this on for the Bridge Series and Inner and Outer Thighs. The Body Blast DVD has just as good of an ab workout, a better arm workout (besides I know this arm series by heart now), and it has a bit of everything you find in the Total Body workout but it's more concentrated and accessible since you can hit everything in 15 minutes. If you have the Body Blast DVD already and are thinking about getting this one, I would still say it's a good investment. What I would do is do a 15 min body blast and then what ever extra areas I wanted to work on, I'd turn on that chapter in the Total Body Workout DVD.

Enjoy!
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191 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, minimalist workout, October 15, 2012
By 
Pheebie "pheebie" (Kenner, LA United States) - See all my reviews
Pros: you only need a towel or mat ~ no weights, ballet barre, chair or other props required; you'll develop beautiful, streamlined muscles; the DVD is chaptered, so you can easily select one or two segments if you're short on time; Mary Helen's cuing is excellent and her voice is encouraging, but never over-bubbly or grating like a drill sergeant; the set is serene and, combined with the music and elegant moves, you'll feel as though you're taking a class in a ballet studio.

Cons: you may curse like a sailor the first time you try this workout.

I bought this DVD because I wanted to add something new and different to my workout routine. I'd been doing Physique 57 (Volumes 1 and 2) for a few years, in addition to strength training with free weights, body weight exercises, walking, and jogging occasionally. I've been physically active my whole life - I'm no stranger to exercise and consider myself to be above average when it comes to fitness. That being said, the first few times I did the Ballet Beautiful routine, I cursed and swore. A lot. I HATED the workout ~ how could moves that appeared so simple be so difficult? I thought, "I work out daily - how can this be so *&%$@!# hard? What am I doing wrong?" Turns out I just had to stick with it. After 3 or 4 attempts, I finally began to feel as though I was getting the hang of the moves and gaining strength. That's not to say the workout has become easy - that would defeat the purpose. But I can now make it through each series, doing the advanced variations, and not scream horrible, ugly things at sweet little Mary Helen (who only wants to help us).

I also LOVE that this DVD is chaptered. It's perfect for those mornings when I only have 15 - 20 minutes to squeeze in a quick workout. I don't have to waste precious time fast forwarding through the routine - I can go to the exact workout I need in a snap. (Side note - it's worth mentioning that even a short, 15 - 20 minute workout packs a punch!) When I've completed my workout, I can feel that my muscles have been worked, but I never feel beaten up or worn down (I've noticed this to be the case with all ballet-inspired workouts I've done - I love that about them.)

Furthermore, I appreciate how minimalist this workout is. It's the ideal DVD to take with you when you travel. While I'm fortunate enough to have a dedicated space in my home for working out, it's nice to not have fitness apparatus cluttering the area as I exercise - it makes the routine feel more "zen,", but that's just me.

If you're looking for a full-body toning workout that requires NO equipment other than a mat or towel, give this DVD a try. The moves absolutely deliver - they'll slenderize your thighs & lift your bum. Another perk - I've found that the bridge series is a great low back strengthener - I've not had any low back discomfort since incorporating this workout into my routine.
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84 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I almost missed out on this!, December 26, 2012
By 
GW (California, United States) - See all my reviews
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The first time I viewed the Ballet Beautiful Classic 60-minute workout I was so intimidated I put it aside for two whole months. Although I was intrigued by Mary Helen's amazing figure, excuses kept running through my head like: "I'm not as flexible as she is" or "I'll hurt my back" or "It's Tuesday." You know...the usual.

I did, however, like the fact that it's done lying on the floor to soft piano music and doesn't require a barre. Finally, I decided to at least TRY to commit to it three times a week for one month before completely writing it off.

Yes, it was hard at first. REALLY hard. In fact, I was popping Aleve like candy the first couple of weeks. Then, suddenly, by the end of week number three I managed to get through all of the reps! Instead of aching, my body began to feel free and light and graceful, without a twinge of pain in my back, knees or hips. (Did I mention I'm 47 with a history of chronic nerve pain?)

I also began SEEING results, even in my thighs which have always been my biggest problem area. Honestly, this is the only workout I've ever done that manages to cover everything. Even areas you wouldn't think it would, such as the calves, front thighs, chest and upper back.

And you do get a decent stretch. I know it doesn't seem like she holds the stretches for very long, but the fact that she does them over and over again really adds up. (Hint: I hold them a beat or two longer than she does and stretch out some more at the end of the workout.)

Mary Helen does lose count whenever she's explaining technique (gggggrrrrr!), but all you have to do is alternate the side of the body you begin with each time and it all evens out. Seriously, why throw out the baby with the bath water?

I know this style of exercise might not be for everyone (it's slow, quiet and repetitious), but for me it's absolutely perfect. If you're sick of jumping around and being yelled at, and are looking for an "elegant discipline" that delivers results, then don't let fear hold you back. Trust me, you CAN do this!
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's a totally surprise benefit (!) to this!, November 19, 2013
This review is from: Ballet Beautiful Total Body Workout (Amazon Instant Video)
I can't do the entire workout - have to skip some sets here and there, but after 2 weeks, I see vast improvement. Awesome workout. I don't care if it's "boring" to some people. I agree with other reviewers who say they like that she's not "pumping you up" with corny over-done motivation and cheesy workout music. No thanks. I like her simple, effective approach. She gets all target spots. It's more than you even need. And it really DOES strengthen and tone withOUT bulking you up - love it. Really amazing. Bit torturous, and she is very serene while she drags you through set after set of reps but it does the trick. Not necessary to do every set, you can stop and stretch here and there, as she says. After all, I'm not a professional ballerina like her! Anyway, this works fantastic. I do it several times a week but skip the cardio at the end as it's not necessary for me. I also don't want to be as skinny as a ballerina. I like having a bit more curves than that, I like having more hips. Anyway, an added benefit is, the surprising extra benefit to this workout was it has actually really improved lovemaking! It's made a great love life with my significant other even better. It must be the extra strength to the thighs, core, etc plus the specific movements you practice. So, while nobody else posted about that, it's an added benefit to this video, which I think deserves mention! Who knew?! Awesome! Never looked better! Thank you Mary Helen Bowers!
12/12/13 UPDATE TO MY ORIGINAL POST:
I've done her DVD for 6 weeks now, about 4 times per week. Mimimum 3 times per week, but I aim for 4 times. OK, I still can't do all the sets. I often do 3 out of 4 and stretch a bit longer (while she does the fourth set) because it's hard for me to keep up with her. I do my best though, and work it very hard. I NEVER do the cardio at the end. Here are my results:
I still eat whatever I please, no diet or anything:
FOR THE FIRST TIME PRETTY MUCH EVER I WEAR LEGGINGS! ME! I can wear leggings, and not be self-conscious that my thighs and butt are too heavy or not well-shaped! My inner thighs are toned! The fat that was there is GONE. On my outer thighs, the bulge is almost completely gone, I figure a few more weeks should do it. The backs of my thighs are toned. My butt is perkier! And my boyfriend keeps affectionately patting my rear, and looking at my butt. My stomach is firm and trim, my arms are slimmed down and strong, the sag in the upper arms is gone. REALIZE that I can easily put on muscle and get bulky arms (yuk) so that's why I KNOW this workout delivers it's promise of muscle without the bulk.
ALSO - it's winter and I'm way less active outdoors, so I imagine my results would be twice as great in summer! So this work out WILL give you strong, shapely legs without the bulk.
Mary delivers! My body looks better than it has in years, I can hardly believe these are REALLY MY OWN thighs! That's why I keep doing it. RESULTS. It is SO nice to feel fully confident about my body. Thank you Mary.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great results in just a month!, January 18, 2014
I've always been pretty unfit (always last in PE) and chubby. I've never stuck to an exercise programme and my diet has always been pretty terrible. I just never saw the importance of all of it, I thought I was fine the way I was, I wasn't very confident but I didn't hate my body either. After seeing one of my friends lose a lot of weight and look amazing, I felt quite jealous and I told myself that either I do something about my weight or I stop complaining. I was looking up workouts and I found this one, and what appealed to me was that it promised to give a dancer's body. Now who wouldn't want that? :) Also I live in a dorm room with limited space, so I wanted a workout that didn't require equipment or space, or much jumping. I got the book first, and then the video. The book is good because it goes into a lot more detail, ie what is the proper form, modifications etc, so when I did the video I wasn't too confused. The book also has all of the exercises listed in it so if you want you can just get it by itself, but personally I prefer having a video to motivate me.

So I tried it out and OMG I could barely keep up the first few times I did it! I couldn't believe that something that looked so easy could burn so much! I was a bit skeptical when I first tried it because it was a lot of toning exercises and just a bit of cardio, I didn't think I could lose weight with it. But something made me stick with this workout. I think it was Mary Helen's pleasant demeanour and challenging yet relaxing the workout was. I always felt good after doing it. Within a week I did see results, which spurred me on to continue, and in just a month my body look completely different. I look slim, but toned without bulky muscles.
Not only that, I started to get much stronger and I walked taller and felt much more confident in general. It's had a domino effect on my diet as well, I'm now much more balanced and I ensure I eat plenty of veg, but I don't cut out any major food groups- I just focus on eating healthy whole foods and this has helped a lot more than all my crash diets before/not eating enough.

So in conclusion this is a brilliant workout and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get slimmer and stronger. It's difficult but it does give results, and the more you do it the better you get at it (even if you can't even do 1 set to start with!) so the best thing to do is to stick with it and be consistent! It's also brilliant for people who prefer working out at home and require something that isn't too noisy and that requires minimal space.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Effective, with a few drawbacks, May 14, 2013
By 
CW (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
I used to teach Pilates, and have been doing both Pilates and Callanetics (old-school but still the gold standard for quick results) for years, so I'm in pretty good shape already. This workout has helped refine certain parts that neither Callanetics nor Pilates fully reached for me: in particular, the high inner thighs and the arms. The Ballet Beautiful workout really hits those areas hard, and I saw the difference within the first six workouts, which was a nice surprise. I appreciate that this workout hits the quads only indirectly, unlike Physique 57 or the Bar Method, both of which put bulk on the front of my thighs rather than slimming them down like Ballet Beautiful and Callanetics have done.

I also like the fact that most of this workout takes place on the floor. Make no mistake-- this is difficult-- even Mary Helen's reps start to get a bit smaller and lower to the ground during the later stages of each exercise. Nonetheless, being on the floor helps me keep tension out of the non-working parts of my body: if I'm working my legs while standing, for instance, I sometimes tense my shoulders or neck as things get tougher. Floor work is great for keeping the upper body relaxed. Mary Helen is excellent about reminding you to extend fully during the exercises-- this is absolutely essential for quick results, so do take her repeated hints!

Despite these positive attributes, there are some limitations to this video. First, I find the abdominal exercises impossible to do without low back pain. I have extremely strong abs from all the years of Pilates, and this is the first time I've encountered low back pain during abdominal work-- ordinarily engaging my lower abs is sufficient to prevent any strain on my back. There's something really awkward and painful about the positioning for the Ballet Beautiful abs, and unfortunately no modifications are offered. Frankly I'd worry that for someone who doesn't have fitness training, these exercises could cause injury, since it takes a bit of experience to know when you're feeling pain instead of just muscles working hard.

Second, the stretching in this video is negligible. Even if you're already quite flexible, the stretching isn't sufficient to maintain (much less increase) flexibility. It gets annoying to have to pause a lot in order to stretch properly, and I missed the presence of a dedicated stretching segment in the video.

Finally, if you're coming to this series of exercises from another type of exercise that relies on extremely precise form, you might find it difficult to get used to the lack of precise positioning advice from this video. Sometimes it's very hard to tell exactly how Mary Helen's leg is turned or angled, and she herself doesn't say.

In spite of these limitations, however, this is an excellent workout that really gives results.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heck yes!, February 26, 2013
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I am already a callanetics 10/10 devotee and have seen great results from this; however, I wanted to take my strength/muscle elongation exercises to the next level. I am mortified to say that I have about 25+lbs of marriage weight on my small stature (under 5'). I already eat very clean but I not super restrictive, a few beers or three make it down the hatch and straight to my belly on the weekends.

I did not have unrealistic expectations in spite of the glowing reviews but went ahead and bought the full body and the blast on instant video. I have mostly done the full body video so that is what I am reviewing. The exercises themselves are very targeted and core strength building. I do have a back injury from a bike accident that I have been particularly careful about and this has not bothered me since beginning the tapes. I find after finishing the exercises that my muscles are nicely fatigued--you can really tell you have worked each and every one. One odd thing I've noticed is that I cannot make it through the full workout without drinking 1-2L of water (this is on top of the 4L I drink already in a day). If you stick with the exercises, they do get more manageable to get through without breaking. I recall the first week I did them I certainly thought that my limbs would fall off.

Ok, on to the results: I am not particularly a fitness freak. I do not do cardio or weights. I do not starve myself or calorie count. I just eat mostly raw for breakfast and lunch (about 2 lbs veggies and fruits)and have nuts as snacks and a cooked dinner usually with eggs/lentils/beans and some type of carbs. I have taken a break from callanetics (used to do it 2-3x a week) to do the total body workout about three times a week. It's been about 3 weeks now but I know for a fact I saw results in the first week. My calves are becoming defined, my inner and outer thighs have shrunk, my love handles and tummy are much flatter....but most dramatically---and I'm not sure what voodoo MHB has done---but my butt has literally shrunk 30% in size and become firmer and more lifted. I also broke a plateau by 3lbs! in one week alone!! I suppose the results may slow down and depend on diet , frequency of exercise, etc.

I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to tone, firm, sculpt, improve their core or general muscle strength. It's also really awesome when you work with a bunch of fitness freaks that obsess about how much they go to the gym and count calories and then make more noticeable progress then they have for the past three months. :) </end gloating>

EDIT***
Now that it has been 1 month+ I thought I'd update that in total I am down 6lb and have lost a total of 13in (I measure waist, belly, hips, and upper thighs) since beginning this workout.

EDIT*** (07/22/13)
Although I've fallen off the wagon with this a few times, I try to do it 1-2x per week along with biking ~40miles (5hrs a week--which I've been doing for years). I've lost a total of 23lbs, over 30+ inches, and my core feels great. I now fit into old clothes that I had mentally written off as impossible and realized that I need to purchase even smaller clothes!. Now that I am so near to my goal of losing my marriage weight, I'd like to work up to 3-4x a week. I highly recommend this to everyone. I've realized that there are no excuses when you can fit in even one segment or blast per day :)
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68 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feelin' GOOD!, September 17, 2012
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I pre-ordered this DVD recently (Aug 2012) and finally got it in the mail. I immediately put it on the DVD player, and watched it. I REALLY liked it right away.

I've been doing this for a couple of weeks, and I'm amazed at how good I feel after doing this. I have muscles returning that I lost due to a recent illness.

All the moves are simple, and are very targeted to developing muslces. Anyone who complains about this not being "balletic" enough hasn't gotten down in the floor on a mat, and has NOT done this workout.

I used to dance in class 16 hours a week, Monday thru Thursday back "in the day", and I've not found a better work out. Wish I had had this work out long ago.

I recently lifted a flat of water that weighed 46.2 pounds (from the garage to the kitchen), and while it wasn't easy, it was very do-able. This absolutely would not have been possible several weeks ago.

I recommend this workout to anyone who is at any level of fitness. Like I am, just getting back to a workout routine after an illness, or you have been working out, and need something different. The idea of muscle confusion works really well with this workout. OR you just want to look and feel more FIT, this is my "go to" item for all of the above! I recommend taking the first 3-4 weeks slow, and gradually build into it.

Thank you Mary Helen. You are an inspiration to me, and I'm glad I found you! Hopefully one day we will have a chance to meet!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I SERIOUSLY felt it, September 28, 2012
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I got this video mainly because I needed a new workout that wasn't too over the top but still made me feel the burn so I have resorted to doing yoga, pilates, and now thanks to this dvd back to ballet. There isn't really that much ballet except for the floor serious but if what you are looking for is a dancer's body then I say definitely by this dvd. Just doing the bridge series alone which is only 15 minutes, I felt the burn after 2. I used to do ballet for 10 years and I can tell that I haven't worked those muscles in 6. I just started this dvd today and I am so excited to see my results with this. An absolute great buy and totally worth it!
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