Ask Mary Helen - Part 1

Hello Ballet Beauties! We know that you all have many questions for Mary Helen so we asked you to share them with us on Facebook and Twitter. We received so many great questions that we decided to create a series, where Mary Helen would sit down and respond to a few at a time. The first questions that Mary Helen is answering are the questions she received relating to how you can maximize your Ballet Beautiful workout to see great results. Grab a cup of tea, sit back and read through!

With Swan Arms should I be engaging my upper back as well as my core?

One of the great things about Ballet Beautiful is that each exercise engages and strengthens the core. Swan Arms is a terrific exercise for building beautiful posture, toning and strengthening the back and core. Follow my cues in the video to keep your neck long and your abs pulled in tight. Remember to lift through your chest, open through the shoulders and extend out rather than up with your arms. One trick is to imagine holding a pencil or small piece of thread between your shoulder blades during the exercise, while keeping the rib cage closed and stomach engaged.

Also watch my video on how to Maximize Your Swan Arms Cardio workout for more great tips.

What are some great swimming exercises to compliment Ballet Beautiful?

Yes – swimming is a fun way to incorporate extra cardio without impact. Depending on the stroke it can also elongate muscles and complement the Ballet Beautiful workout. When I am swimming I like to think about my arms extending long through the water and gliding along the top. You can pull tight through the abs and add extra kick in the legs to increase the burn! My favorite strokes are the crawl (remember, think about stretching the arms and kicking the legs) and breaststroke.

Another fun way to mix up your Ballet Beautiful workout is to try Swan Arms while in the pool. The water adds the perfect amount of resistance for an extra challenging workout!

I have a tight tendon/ligament in my inner thigh that I’m struggling to stretch out, any recommendations?

Many people feel stiff and tight and think that they are doomed to be inflexible. This certainly is not true! Flexibility can improve over time with daily stretching. It’s always important to work within your range of motion to gently stretch the muscles. Try setting aside some extra time at the end of your workout when the muscles are warm to work on flexibility. Our stretch bundle is the perfect choice with many options for releasing tightness and tension trough the legs and thighs.

Could you share any great abdominal exercises while standing up?

I love standing ab work and exercises like our Skyline Series that targets and tones obliques and waist. Checkout the Skyline workout, Standing Abs workout and Bikini Twist workout in our Custom Workout subscription for a targeted Ballet Beautiful Burn!

What are the best exercises for those stubborn “bat wings” and how often and long should one perform those exercises?

I have found the key to toned ballerina arms to be a combination of weight bearing arm workouts like our dips in the Classic 60 Minute Workout along with our weightless Swan Arms exercises. This combo tones and sculpts the arms and targets the triceps and core to help build lean muscle and burn stubborn fat. Aim for a minimum of 5 minutes 5-6 days/week and increase it to 15-20 minutes whenever you have extra time!

What are the best exercises to lose that last bit of post pregnancy belly and tone the waist and abs?

I don’t think there’s a mom on the planet that hasn’t worried about this question.  The key to getting the stomach back after a baby is starting slowly and working consistently. I love a mix of toning to build lean muscle along with low impact cardio to burn off the extra bit of softness and fat. Standing workouts like our Skyline Series in the Custom Workout paired with toning in our Backstage DVD provide a perfect combo to build a post baby body that’s better than ever!

How much cardio do you recommend to maintain good shape?

When it comes to cardio I am a fan of low impact workouts that don’t tax the quads, tighten the back or bulk the legs. If you aren’t already using my BB Cardio Streaming Videos check out this link to our store or check out our Cardio Fat Burn DVD. My personal preference is for about 30-mins of cardio, 3 – 5 days a week, depending on how much time one has. Once or twice a week I enjoy something with more impact like my BB Cardio Series Allegra Workout, a hard swim, or sprints on a treadmill or outdoors.