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Customer Review

186 of 192 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get enough Mary Helen!, May 12, 2013
This review is from: Ballet Beautiful: Body Blast (DVD)
I got this dvd along with the "Total Body Workout" one. Both (at the time) came to a total of something like $20. Best $20 I ever spent!

Mary Helen Bowers is someone you could picture being the perfect friend to work out with. She has an incredible body and relentless focus/dedication, but also a very sensible, great philosophy about working out, food, body image, etc. She encourages self-acceptance, taking things at your own pace, and maintaining a lifestyle that you can easily sustain over years rather than some 'push yourself to death for 2 months' regime (as though THAT'S going to work long-term!!). As a result, I know some people might find these workouts not "energizing" enough but personally, this is exactly what I was looking for. I don't like working out (in the typical sense), I HATE cardio, I didn't want to be shouted at or forced to pump my booty to stupid club music in ways that made me sure to draw the curtains (TIGHTLY) every time I worked out - I just wanted to integrate a good workout into my daily life and gain strength and grace without looking/feeling totally ridiculous.

That being said, the first few weeks of her workouts will likely have you feeling like a floundering whale while she glides through the exercises - the first time I did the bridge series (working abs, butt, thighs, calves, all in one), I was in pain for three days afterwards - but it's sooooo satisfying and exciting to notice yourself improving and thinking, "Hey, I used to be unable to complete this set with her and now I can keep up!" I've never had muscles like these (even when I was really into yoga/hot yoga, jogging, etc.) so it's cool to feel strong and energetic as well as slim!

Now that I'm familiar with the workouts on these dvds, I usually don't even need the mat or the dvd: I just pop on my ipod, flop down on the carpet, and do 15-30 minutes of these exercises with Mary Helen's voice in the background of my mind ("Engage!"). Couldn't be easier! This means that it's the first time in my life I have sustained a consistent workout pattern for over 6 months, and the results are obvious and incredibly motivating. I've lost almost 20 pounds in 8 months (and at 5'8 and 140, it's not like I had much to lose, or so I thought) and I get lots of comments on how lean and toned I look now.

Some disclaimers so no one's disappointed: no, this is not a ballet class. It's ballet-based exercises. I think that's fairly obvious if you research the dvd even a little bit, but some people seemed to be expecting something else. Furthermore, don't be surprised if your weight actually goes UP when you first start this workout (for the first month or so): as we're all well aware now, muscle weighs a lot more than flab so until your new muscles start burning off fat (and they will), you'll weigh a bit more as you gain strength. To that effect, you'd be better off ignoring the scale altogether for a while; instead, go by how you feel and how your clothes fit so you stay motivated and see positive results. And lastly, some people have noted that you would need to add cardio to these workouts to get a complete fitness regimen: to an extent, I disagree. If you are looking to burn lots of fat/lose a ton of weight, yes, you probably will need some extra source of calorie-burning, like extra cardio. But contrary to what many fitness buffs would have you believe, the average human body doesn't need to be pushed to the limits of breathlessness to be healthy. There are definite cardio elements in these workouts in the true 'cardiovascular' sense - i.e. working the whole body and getting the heart rate up - so I feel like that's enough for me.

Thanks for everything, Mary Helen!

*Update: April 29, 2014 - It's been almost a year since I wrote the above review and I'm still enjoying the DVDs in this series and continuing to see great results. I think they are a very good exercise not only physically but mentally - you learn to be patient and stick with yourself for the long haul. This is no crash diet or speed-slimming approach. It's a way to build and strengthen your muscles in ways that last years, rather than weeks. Ditto for flexibility - when I first tried to stretch along with Mary Helen (note: PAUSE the DVD, she stretches way too fast if you're not a ballerina), I was hopelessly stiff; now I'm about 70% to where she is in her stretches. Hope the next year brings me even closer to my goals!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 23, 2013 6:47:30 PM PST
kterbo says:
I agree with you. I am just starting (three days in) but saw results in one day. I too hate intense cardio and would rather have long lean muscles then bulked up kind.
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