Ballet Beautiful - Cardio Fat BurnMary Helen Bowers
Year Released: 2013
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Title: Ballet Beautiful: Cardio Fat Burn
Instructor: Mary Helen Bowers
Time: 60 Minutes
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
DVD menu: Play workout, play with or without Mary’s instruction
Production quality: High, lovely classical music
Equipment used: None
Well the workout has already been broken down, so I will not reiterate the structure of the workout. This is my first Ballet Beautiful workout, I do a lot of barre workout including P57, Cardio Barre, Bar Method, Barre3, Ballet Physique, etc. I regularly do Tonique and running, so I knew the cardio would not be incredibly challenging, but for days that I don’t feel like working out, and need something more gentle, this workout really fit the bill.
Honestly I didn’t entirely get the hang of the standing ballet cardio (I’m sure I was doing it all wrong) – was it more like hopping or more like fast feet? In the end I thought fast feet with attention to form on the leg moving forward, sideways, or back was the best approach. The constant arm movements got my heart rate up, and I felt more control in my legs than if I were hopping, for more of a barre style workout.
I thought the floor work was great: first ab work with some isometric holds and I felt it really targeted the lower abs the most (which is a plus for me), then arm work which was surprisingly challenging but was only for the triceps, and finally leg work which was also surprisingly challenging but was only for the inner thigh. However, I would have liked some attention spent on other muscle groups too – glutes, outer thigh, chest for instance. The toning was awesome but definitely could not have been considered total body.
I think anyone could do this workout, but to follow the standing work in the more energetic style presented, and to have enough strength to be able to most effectively execute the floor work, I would put this in the intermediate range. I definitely plan to keep it for lower energy days. The fun factor and amount of effort exerted was comparable to an Ellen Barrett video, to me (who I enjoy very much for light days).
Mary is very friendly and motivational. However she doesn’t seem very assertive in front of the camera and sometimes her instruction seems more like a suggestion. She gave great form pointers on the floor exercises but not for the standing cardio.
I received a copy of this ballet workout to preview. The workout is done in a large bright and airy with a large picture window, and the quiet classical piano music in the background helped sent the tone. The chapters are Warm Up, Core, Upper Body, Lower Body & Total Body. The workout begins with stretches, not a warm-up: Demi-plies, demi-plies with tendus, plies, and plies with tendues. The tendus change to leg lifts, then we pedal our feet on the floor to stretch them. The comes the first cardio “allegra” interval: sort of jump and extend one leg for a while, then the other, like a dancey, jumping half jack. I wasn’t crazy about jumping like this.
The next section is abdominals. We begin on our back with legs in the air, feet and toes pointed toward the ceiling, then lift and lower our hips, first at tempo, then faster pulses. The instructor gives good form tips, such as “try to keep your legs straight up rather than bringing them toward your face.” We pause for a brief stretch before beginning what she called a modified bicycle (which reminded me of the Pilates move where you “dip your toe into water.”) Then sit up for quick mermaid side stretches before doing some graceful “c-curve” sit-ups. The section ends with a cardio interval, the same dancey jumping half jack.
The arms segment begins in a seated position, leaning on left hip with left palm on floor beside you, lowering and lifting the torso by pushing against floor (side push ups.) We hold in the down position for pulses (OUCH!) then just hold in the down position (double ouch.) Next comes seated tricep kickbacks with palm pushing toward back wall. Then it’s a quick stretch and do it all again on the other side. The section ends with the same cardio interval.
Inner thighs is next, where we lie on one side with hips stacked one over the other. Place the top foot on the floor either in front or behind the lower leg, then begin lifting and lowering the bottom leg. After doing the other side, it’s on to the cardio interval.
The last section is mostly stretches – seated forward fold, spinal twist, pigeon pose, wide leg forward fold, mermaid side stretch, and child’s pose.
Mary Helen Bowers has improved greatly upon her first two DVD’s which both came out at the same time. I remember she only allowed a second or two for stretches; she allows more time in this workout. The music was also more audible in this workout. One minor annoyance is that she does not mirror cue.