As a lover of ballet I am always on the lookout for dance-based exercise programs. Ballet Beautiful is the best one I have encountered so far. This book covers the principles of Ballet Beautiful - an exercise and wellbeing program devised by former New York City Ballet ballerina Mary Helen Bowers. The book has a foreword by Natalie Portman and an introduction by Mary Helen followed by three parts:
1. The Ballet Beautiful Mindset - This section sets out the premise behind Ballet Beautiful and how Mary Helen came up with the program. It pays attention to the importance of having a healthy, positive mindset in your daily life.
2. The Ballet Beautiful Program - This section has the complete classic 60 minute Ballet Beautiful workout with explanations of the individual exercises and photographs to guide you. There are also 4 separate 15 minute 'Blasts' which work different areas of the body as well as information about useful stretches.
3. The Ballet Beautiful Lifestyle - This section explores the concept of healthy eating and the importance of taking care of your body by making sensible choices. It also gives guidance on how often to complete the workouts and how to make time for yourself using the Ballet Beautiful method. Some easy recipes are included in this section too but it is important to note that there is no prescribed eating plan here. Its all about health!
This is a challenging program for individuals of any fitness level. There are modifications for beginners and for those who are more advanced. The book also stands up to being re-read if you need a little extra motivation now and then. One of the best things about the program is the variety of movement and the ability to mix and match workouts to suit your own aims.
I have been using the Ballet Beautiful method for a few months now and have seen a definite change in my body shape, with more definition in my arms(try the Swan Arms series for a serious arm workout!) and a general feeling of elongation. There has also been an improvement in my dance technique, which I put down to all the stretching and lengthening exercises. I try and make time for at least 15 minutes a day but aim for a full 60 minutes 3 times a week. I have this book, the dvds and a couple of the streaming videos which means it never gets boring. Plus its you can do these exercises anywhere and you don't need equipment (unless you want to use a mat), so no excuses for not continuing while you're travelling :)
I gave the book 4 stars because, like another reviewer, I also have a problem with some of the photos. The black and white doesn't bother me, you don't look at the pictures after a while anyway, but some of the pictures are either in the wrong order or just don't fit with the exercise. If you have an iPad however you will soon be able to get the enhanced ebook which has videos embedded. Maybe the new kindle tablet will have its own edition in the future.
Ballet Beautiful has changed the way I think about exercise and healthy living. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a graceful and healthy lifestyle.