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Ballet Beautiful: Transform Your Body and Gain the Strength, Grace, and Focus of a Ballet Dancer Paperback – June 12, 2012

87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Natalie Portman
“Mary Helen’s technique . . . allows anyone to achieve the long, toned physique of a dancer.”
Zooey Deschanel
“Mary Helen knows how to make ordinary women look like ballerinas. She’s the real deal.”
Liv Tyler
“Mary Helen is wonderful! We train together using her Ballet Beautiful program doing leg work, butt lifts, and stretches. I love working out with her.”
Publishers Weekly, 11/28/11
“Shows off a celebrity fitness trend that could just be the next Pilates.”, 6/12/12
“We recommend her book not only for the easy-to-follow, illustrated exercise plan, but also for Bowers' extensive explanation about how to get into the right mindset for changing your body.”
People, 6/13/12
“Bowers counts Zooey Deschanel, Kirsten Dunst and Liv Tyler as clients. If doing these ballet-inspired workouts allows us to look like any of them, we’ll be donning our tutus shortly.”
Daily Mail (UK), 6/13/12
“The ballerina responsible for whipping Natalie Portman into shape for her role in Black Swan is giving us the chance to attain ‘prima’ perfection with the release of her a book.”, 7/25/12
“Provides step-by-step exercises, as well as a detailed rationale as to why and how her program can get you that coveted ballerina-esque grace and poise, as well as a strong, lithe, dancer’s body.”, August 2012
“Filled with photos and a world of good advice regarding a sustainable health regimen rather than fad diets or overworking one’s body.”, 8/2/12
“Not just an exercise book but a book about grace, style and elegance, which ballet dancers have in abundance…The fitness routines…are an unconventional approach to toning and shaping, and will certainly be effective for readers who can stick to them.”

ForeWord This Week, 8/21/12
“With dozens of ballet positions and exercises in [Bowers’] 60-minute workout, along with healthy recipes and meal plans to turn fat into lean muscle, this fabulous guide provides the methods for any woman to achieve the long, toned, powerful body shape of a dancer.”

San Francisco Book Review / Sacramento Book Review, 9/4/12
“Combining Bowers’ exercises and eating tips is a surefire way to change up your workout or jump-start your weight loss plan.”

Midwest Book Review, September 2012
“Clear examples of basic ballet movements even non-ballet readers can absorb.”

Taste for Life, October 2012
“With this book, you can learn how to transform certain areas of the body to become more sculpted and defined…This book is for anyone who wishes to gain the strength and grace of a dancer.”

Portland Book Review, March-May 2013
“Every woman’s ultimate guide for learning how to create a balanced, healthy lifestyle, from fitness to food to philosophy…Bowers is motivational and inspiring…Unerringly realistic, Bowers is that rare proponent of balance amid extreme yet popular fitness and health ideas.”

About the Author

Professional ballerina and founder of Ballet Beautiful, Mary Helen Bowers is a sought-after fitness expert with a high-profile clientele. Mary Helen trained at the School of American Ballet and danced with the New York City Ballet for ten years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780738215907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738215907
  • ASIN: 0738215902
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Helen Bowers is a professional ballerina and the founder and CEO of Ballet Beautiful. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Mary Helen moved to New York City at age 15 to study at the School of American Ballet. She was invited to join the New York City Ballet the following year and danced 10 years with the company at Lincoln Center and on stages across the world.

After retiring from NYCB Mary Helen earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Columbia University. She launched Ballet Beautiful, a fitness and wellness program inspired by the grace and athleticism of ballet, in 2008. As a tech-savvy entrepreneur, Mary Helen developed one of the world's first online fitness studios. Today Ballet Beautiful has a global membership with a high profile following and impressive celebrity clientele. Ballet Beautiful and Mary Helen have been featured on CNN, ABC, the Today Show, the New York Times, Elle, Vogue, Women's Health, Harper's Bazaar and the Wall Street Journal.

For more information, to check out online classes and Ballet Beautiful videos, please visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By AgnesaB. on July 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a devoted fan of Ballet Beautiful method/concept. I own both DVD's and almost all blast videos available online. No surprise I am an owner of the printed version of the book as well!

Why would I recommend this book to other girls and women - and not only to those who love ballet as I do?

First of all, the book is written in very pleasant, calm and sensible style. It is divided into three parts (these are divided into chapters).

The parts cover all you need for building some kind of regimen or just approach to your work out routine and food choices:

* mindset
* the actual work out (stretching exercises, the classic 60 minute workout and three 15-minutes blasts workouts: 1 for arms and 2 cardios). Here you also obtain some basic ballet terminology, few basic BB principles
* third part talks about the approach to food - shows what food choices are great, the essential philosophy here is the intuitive/instinctive and very sensible approach to food. I apprecciated the suggestions for breakfasts, snacks, lunches etc. There are also suggestions for how many times per week to work out (ideal week, a moderate and light week). You will also find usable and practical tips on how to deal with cravings etc. In the very end of this part and of the book itself you can find few quick and healthy, yet easy recipes provided by Mary Helen and her friends/family.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Eliza T. on June 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I've been doing Ballet Beautiful for just under a year and it's been amazingly transformative for me. This book embodies everything I love about Ballet Beautiful and Mary Helen. It's funny, optimistic, sensible and very challenging. The book is filled with all the exercises that helped me change my shape but it's also got the essential advice and support that helped me make those changes permanent. It guided me in remaking my way of thinking and about my body, food and exercise and maybe more importantly it revamped my confidence in the fact that I have the power to create new healthy habits in my life. This book talks to my whole person - mind and body! And it even gets into all those icky, negative feelings about bodies / food / accomplishment that we all get and that block us from making progress.

Also I find it so easy to stay positive and connected because of all the resources available in the book but also online at Ballet Beautiful anytime of day / night. That's made all the difference for me. It used to be so frustrating when life didn't allow me time to exercise, but now that I know don't have to run to the gym to get a great workout I feel confident that I can keep it up. And I've learned how to be realistic about setbacks, the kind of things I used to get so mad at myself about. I "move on" as Mary Helen advises. And guess what? It's working!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Deb Nam-Krane VINE VOICE on January 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Note about me: I'm a former Yoga and Pilates teacher who prefers to work out at home.

I first heard about this program last year. I was intrigued and heard good things from people. I bought the Total Body DVD and got this book. For my money, while both are good investments, I'm getting more out of the book.

Some of the exercises are difficult to learn the first time around, particularly the standing exercises. Ballet is notoriously difficult to teach on paper; the fact that I could follow the exercises after a second review speaks to how well she did describe them. And I loved her concise reference sheet of ballet terms with descriptions and illustrations.

The bulk of the first program is best thought of as floor barre, but with a little bit of a twist. (And if you also want to think of it as a more elegant version of the some of the floor exercises women have been doing since the Fifties, you're excused.) Bridges, leg lifts and inner thigh lifts will be familiar to anyone who has taken a Pilates class in the last decade, and the abwork will probably remind you of some of the Lotte Berk/Bar Method/Core Fusion/etc. Bowers usually has you perform 4 sets of 8 reps, then pulses at the high point for the same number. Definitely more reps than in Pilates, but fewer than most of the barre work out there. What the book has that the videos don't is the Reverse Bridge (which Pilates practitioners might recognize as Grasshopper). While the Bridges work both the lower back and glutes, the Reverse Bridges call on those muscles as well as the upper back and call for more extension of the spine. Hugely important for all of us.

The standing sections or Blasts work well together as a cardio-sculpting workout.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Joy on April 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Mary Helen Bowers has a kind, conversational way of writing that gently shows you a healthy way of looking at food and exercising. She emphasizes a clean, well rounded diet and no calorie counting or food obsession. Her attitude of seeing food as fuel is refreshing and effective.
Then there's the workout. My goodness, does it work. Sure, i wouldn't exactly do it in front of anyone (the bridge series looks like you're reverse humping the floor tbh) but you definitely feel it working just where she says it will.
I've been using her dvd (the classic 60 minute one) for a few weeks and i've noticed my legs and arms literally changing shape. No amount of lunges or squats have ever toned my thighs like her workouts do. Plus i move much more gracefully and elegantly (my girlfriend has even commented on that!)
So all in all, buy this book! Then buy the accompanying dvd because it's beautiful and helps you understand the movements. Together, they'll change your life.
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