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Mary Helen’s Postnatal Training Tips

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When it comes to working out again after having a baby, flexibility is key. Life with kids is chaotic and for a new mom, time may no longer be your own.

In my experience during those first few months, the world basically revolves around when the baby does or doesn’t sleep, with feedings and diaper changes and lots of snuggles in between. So where does working out come in? What does postnatal fitness involve and what should we expect from our bodies?

The first step is getting cleared by your Doctor to workout again after delivery. This typically happens around six weeks after delivery, but keep in mind that every body and delivery is different. Once the Doctor gives you the green light to start training again, it is important to remember to start slowly, particularly if you had a C-section or any complications. It takes many months for the body to recover and heal from childbirth. Your postnatal workout routine should rebuild strength and muscle tone without shocking the body.

I now have two daughters, a three year old and a fifteen month old. My deliveries and recoveries were very different with each. With Lumina (our oldest), I had a C-section. The healing process for my body was slower and harder than I had hoped for or expected. While I was ready for some exercise when she was six weeks old, there were lots of things that my body was not able to do. I focused first on rebuilding strength through my legs, butt and arms before beginning to gently target and strengthen my core. For all the moms out there who have a C-section please remember to be gentle to your body and do not push too fast too soon. We have a C-section specific postnatal workout coming soon so please stay tuned!

With Violette, our youngest, I had a vaginal delivery. I felt stronger much sooner and had a greater range of motion. I was ready for light ab work sooner (closer to 2-3 months post natal) and found I didn’t have to worry as much about swelling around my incision or doing the occasional arabesque.

While each of my deliveries was very different, my approach to postnatal fitness was similar in terms of pacing (slow and steady). I started back after both with light inner and outer thigh exercises, bridge work, a few plies and arm exercises, building and adding in more repetitions and complexity as I gained strength. As the babies grew, I began slowly adding in more core exercises and working harder to keep my core engaged and strong in every exercise. I also tried to set reminders for myself like trying to pull in my abs once or twice when nursing, which I basically did all day every day for a period of weeks.

I breastfed both girls for over a year and found that my body needed a huge amount of water, protein and high quality fats to make enough milk, so dieting wasn’t something I even thought about until they were older. I found that when I began adding exercise back into my routine, I needed a lot more water and calories to balance out the burn and keep my milk production high.

As far as scheduling, I tried to be as flexible as possible on fitting in my workouts. Five minutes here or there while the baby was sleeping or doing tummy time made a big difference for me in starting back. As they each got bigger and my body was more healed, I was able to extend the time and increase the intensity of my workouts, building from mat work to adding in standing exercises, slowly working up to 30 then a full 60 minutes when possible. As I was able to train longer and harder, I found that my body slowly began to regain strength and muscle tone.

This does not happen over night! For me it took well over a year to feel my strongest and best, this time as a Mom! My body is different than before I had Lumina but I don’t see that as a negative. Some things are better and some things, like the skin tone on my stomach, may never be quite the same. What is important to me is that I am active, happy and strong.

Wishing all of our Supermoms and Ballet Beauties a beautiful workout!

xoxo – Mary Helen

Your Ballet Beautiful Journey

We are constantly inspired by the hard work and dedication of our Ballet Beauties. You all are so committed and dedicated to your workouts and we love how you encourage each other to believe in and accomplish your goals! We have heard many amazing stories about how Ballet Beautiful has helped you gain confidence and be your best selves, and we wanted to share them with the rest of our beautiful community so we could all motivate and celebrate each other.

A few weeks ago, we asked our BB Beauties on Facebook to share their success stories with us, and we were blown away by the responses 🙂 We received so many great submissions from BB Beauties all around the world that we are going to continue this as a recurring series, so stay tuned for more and please keep sharing your stories with us. We always love hearing from our BB community!

Here are your first four Ballet Beautiful Journeys! We hope they inspire you as much as they inspired us!

xoxo — The Ballet Beautiful Team

Michelle Hakkensen 

I was overweight all my life until I lost weight with the help of a nutritionist when I was 17 and never found a good workout routine until I found Ballet Beautiful. I can’t highlight enough how Ballet Beautiful transformed my body. I never thought it was possible for me to even come close to the results I have been seeing. The before picture was taken a year after my son was born. I had to go through years of hormonal treatment until i got pregnant with a IVF try. In my pregnancy I was on bed rest for 12 weeks. I was happy that we got a healthy baby boy but the inactivity took its toll. I found Ballet Beautiful by chance and got in the best shape of my life both mentally and physically. Furthermore, I feel great despite my PCOS condition simply because the whole Ballet Beautiful lifestyle brings my life into balance. I feel empowered and strong – all thanks to you.

Julieta Campos

I love BB, it completely changed my life. The picture on the left was taken in July of 2013 when I was at my heaviest, weeks before I discovered Ballet Beautiful. The picture on the right was taken in January of 2016 after almost a year of committing to doing BB and BB only for 6 days a week. I lost 25 pounds over 8 month following the BB mindset and using the BB Custom Workout and DVDs.

Chiara Forni

With the exception of yoga, which led to an important wrist injury, I’ve always hated working out. I hated the screaming instructors, the cheesy music and the muscular look that it gave me. I’ve always dreaded the workout time and I kept giving up on every method I tried.

When I came across the Ballet Beautiful book and the Classic DVD everything changed for me. I discovered a whole new way of taking care of my body, one I now look forward to, and this led me to appreciate my body, as imperfect as it is, to have new confidence, and to wear the first pair of skinny jeans in my entire life.

Ballet Beautiful improved my posture and slimmed my legs, and also gave me a healthier approach to life, and definitely more self confidence. I went from not working out at all, to doing one hour of Ballet Beautiful 5 times a week consistently for 2 years.

It’s magic! The workouts are tough but even if I’m not coordinated, or blessed with great flexibility, I have never felt like it was too much to handle and have never felt like giving up. I have never injured myself or pushed my body too much, and still saw amazing results, slimmed down, gained more flexibility and strength. I’m so grateful Mary Helen entered the fitness world or I would probably still be crying about my wrist.

Emily Hoehne

A few months ago, I gave birth to my first baby. The pregnancy was really traumatic, and my body went through a lot. I felt so much pressure to get back to my “pre-pregnancy” body as soon as my baby was born and started making a plan on how to accomplish that. Right before my baby was born, however, I came across an interview with Mary Helen Bowers about post-pregnancy exercise that completely changed everything.

In the article, Mary Helen talks about viewing our post-pregnancy bodies in terms of a whole new body and celebrating what our bodies have done to grow and deliver a baby. My perspective and appreciation for my body immediately changed.

Now, four months post-pregnancy, I have exercised consistently and feel that I am in the strongest and best shape of my life. I have not stepped on a scale, and I am not on a diet, and I know my body has changed for the better. Adopting Mary Helen’s attitude of gratitude and celebration for the amazing body that I have has made all the difference. I am exercising and eating well daily because it helps my body feel good and perform at its optimum.

I love my Ballet Beautiful DVDs and online workouts! Thank you for sharing a program and life-changing philosophy with me and so many others.

No Barre, No Problem!

Every ballet class begins with exercises to warm up and strengthen the body at the barre. In some respects barre exercises could be considered a foundation of classical ballet training.  The barre is the training ground for a dancer to focus on developing the correct muscles needed to execute more complicated dance steps and positions in the center and ultimately, onstage.  Barre work is also a wonderful place to gain more flexibility and muscle control.

Ballet class inspires our Ballet Beautiful barre workouts. We love using the barre to aid in balance so that we can hone in and focus on targeting ballet muscles in the butt, thighs, back, abs and arms.  A Ballet Beautiful Barre workout is a great way to increase strength in areas where you might feel a little weak, or to experience an even deeper position for extra burn.

If you don’t have an actual ballet barre at home don’t worry, any stable surface will work.

Possible ballet Barre substitutions:

Counter top

Windowsill

Stool

Chair (If using for a stretch put your foot or leg on the seat of the chair not the back)

Banister

Dresser

Trainer Tip: Pay attention to your body position while using the barre. Your hand should be lightly resting on the barre, not gripping. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck long. Most importantly make sure the barre is the right height for you. You don’t want to sink down or strain to reach the barre. Ideally whatever surface you use should be slightly lower than shoulder height.

Pro Tip: For extra cardio and balance work, challenge yourself to perform the barre workouts without the help of the barre. Build your strength and comfort with the Ballet Beautiful exercises at the barre first and then repeat without holding on. This is a great balance test that adds instant challenge and Burn to any BB Barre workout.

Try one of our BB Barre workouts:
Barre Stretch & Posture Work  Plie Barre Burn  Cardio Barre  and Essential Ballerina: Ballet Barre

Inside the Custom Workout, March

Hello Beauties!

Our new March workouts are here and we could not be more excited!

This month includes some of my all time favorite exercises for the booty in Floor Barre Derrière. This mat based video uses a reverse bridge to target the back of the legs and lift and tone the derriere. This is also a great exercise to strenthen the muscles in your lower back, which helps support your ballet core.

Floor Barre Derriere, Pro Tip – Don’t focus on how high the leg lifts off the floor, pull the stomach in tight to engage the abs as you squeeze through the butt and back of the legs to lift the feet up into a reverse bridge. Even if the thighs remain on the mat you can get a great workout by targeting and engaging these key ballet muscles.

Floor Barre Mini

Curtsy Cardio is a fun dance-y workout that incorporates some of the most elemental steps in ballet including plies, passés and curtseys to lift the heart rate and tone your ballet muscles. I love this workout because it provides a great full body blast that makes you sweat and burn all over! Don’t be fooled by how graceful this video looks – the burn in the legs and thighs is intense.

Curtsy Cardio, Pro Tip – Remember to differentiate between a true bend and stretch of the knees as both are equally important for shaping lean ballet muscles! Follow my cues in the workout and be sure that when the knees are bent the standing knee is in a true demi pile with the knees over the toes. When the working leg lifts into cardio check to make sure that the standing knee is fully stretched with the knee lifted.

Curtsy Cardio Mini

Take a peek and get started today.

Have a beautiful workout!

xoxoMary Helen

Ballet Beautiful Buzz #8

BB Buzz Feb 2017

Read: Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This book is such a great read! It is based on two young girls who dream of being dancers, but only one has talent. They have a close but complicated friendship, and as they get older their lives take them on different paths. The book touches upon race, class and status to delve into each person’s life in this beautifully written novel. Zadie Smith is such an incredible writer and this book will definitely not disappoint.

Watch: La La Land

We know, we know, everyone is talking about this movie! But we still can’t help being obsessed with it. We loved all the singing and dancing, and it was so fun to see a musical made and set in today’s world. If you haven’t seen it, treat yourself to this dazzling movie with beautiful music, dancing and choreography! And if you have already seen it, we have enjoyed listening to the soundtrack on our commute – it is sure to put you in an upbeat mood!

Listen: Modern Love Podcast

We love this podcast! It is based on the super popular NY Times column – Modern Love, which is a collection of reader submitted essays on love and relationships. The podcast consists of notable personalities like Katie Couric, Colin Farrell, and January Jones reading these stories with updates from the essayists themselves. The podcast is so touching and beautiful, and we love that they are based on true relationship stories.

Wear: Dreamy Gowns

We love gowns and Marchesa’s dreamy, lady like designs for their Spring 2017 collection have inspired us to look for something gorgeous and airy to wear when the weather finally changes! Check your local vintage shop or take a look at our Make the Runway Look Your Own for sleek feminine leotards you can pair with flowing skirts or tutus to recreate the look.

Make that Runway Look Your Own

We loved seeing all the newest runway looks from New York Fashion Week! The outfits were gorgeous and inspired us to find ways we can implement them into our daily attire.

We have so much fun recreating runway looks with our Ballet Beautiful pieces, and wanted to show you how we do it! Take a look below for some of our favorite 2017  Spring runway looks revamped in Ballet Beautiful Style!

Oscar de la Renta

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We’re loving this white on white look by Oscar de la Renta! We recreated this aesthetic by pairing our half-sleeved white sweetheart leo with a white maxi-skirt.

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White sweetheart long sleeve leotard under long white skirt

Valentino

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We were excited to see a lot of crimson red on the runways! This color is so dramatic and flattering. Try our crimson halter leo under a flowy midi skirt for this Valentino look; also check out our red cut-out cami leo and satin street shoes for another way to rock the look! 

runway fashion crimson

Red Halter or Cut-Out Cami Leotard under a flowy skirt

Chanel

runway fashion silver

Metallics are always super stylish, and we love Chanel’s combination of sparkling silver with pastel pink in these two outfits. Our silver halter or sweetheart leotards under a pastel skirt or tutu are perfect for recreating this look!

runway fashion silver leos

Silver Sweetheart Leo or Silver Halter Leo under skirt or tutu

Marchesa

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This pastel Marchesa tulle dress is so ballet-chic. Match our orchid cut-out cami with a tulle skirt or tutu for this feminine spring look!

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 Orchid Cut-Out Cami Leotard with tutu

Valentino resort collection

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We love this tropical and chic Valentino resort look! It is the perfect stylish summer outfit and immediately makes us want to be by a beach. Recreate it with our black cut-out cami leo, a colorful maxi skirt and long gold necklaces!

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Black Cut-out Cami Leotard with maxi skirt

Ballet Beautiful Around the Web

BB Around the Web Feb 2017

Hello Ballet Beauties! Here is a new roundup of some of the gorgeous Ballet Beautiful pictures we have seen around the web. We always love seeing your snaps so please tag us or use the #BalletBeautiful hashtag so we can see how you #TrainLikeABallerina! Please keep sharing them with us!

Huge thanks to @rachelfaypotter, @victorial24,@annev and @lainyhedaya!

Here is a list of the Ballet Beautiful pieces featured above:

Ballet Beautiful Tulle Skirt 

Two Tone Halter Leotard

Mesh-Trimmed Halter Leotard

Cut-Out Stretch Cami Leotard

Ballet Beautiful Tights

Chiffon Mini Wrap Skirt

Satin Workout Slippers

 

Valentine’s Day – The BB Way!

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It’s that time of year again where you see pink and red everywhere you go, and you know that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! We love celebrating this Holiday because it is a wonderful way to show those you care about some love. Finding a unique gift can seem daunting, so we are here to help! We have many pretty Ballet Beautiful pieces that we know will make the perfect gift! Take a look below at all our lovely pink and red pieces, and find something truly special for yourself and your beloved Ballet Beauties!

Wishing you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with love and happiness!

– The BB Team

Mesh Ballet Wrap in Crimson

Halter with Mesh Trim in Silver

Valentine’s Day Zip Front Leotard – *Special introductory pricing for a limited time 

Valentine’s Day Cut-Out Cami Leotard – *Special introductory pricing for a limited time 

Valentine’s Day Halter Leotard – *Special introductory pricing for a limited time 

Half Sleeve Sweetheart in White

Lily Legwarmers in Rose

Pink Tights 

Satin Street Shoes in Pale Pink

Crimson Satin Street Shoes

Your Best YOU Yet!

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Make your fitness goals a reality in 2017! When we think about the New Year we get excited because it is a clean start, so we can really focus on what we want to achieve for the year and how we are going to set about accomplishing it. One of the biggest things to think about when setting up your goals are: what are your intentions for your health, your healthy lifestyle and for making exercise a part of your daily life.

When we are looking ahead we make sure to think about the big picture goals but also about breaking them into smaller, more achievable pieces that we can incorporate on a daily and weekly basis.

Whatever your goals are it is all achievable with the right approach and the right mindset. We recommend looking at the big picture goal and then what that means for how you live your daily life because that is where the real work happens!

To help you think of some great health and fitness goals, and to keep you inspired and motivated, we wanted to share some of the goals of our Ballet Beautiful trainers. Wishing you a bright, happy and healthy 2017!

yuki meet the trainer

Yuki

Take ballet class more regularly, work on my thigh muscles, make sure to recover after my workouts, and work on getting 7-8 hours of sleep. Balance is key!

katelyn meet the trainer 2

Katelyn

In 2017, my goals are: to get a good night’s sleep, laugh harder, drink more water, spend more time with my husband, and to not over-extend myself, off the Ballet Beautiful mat 🙂

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Nicholas

My resolution is to be more “selfish”. Meaning to focus on my body more than I do currently. I’m always on the go so I generally neglect my body, but this year I’m going to find more time to take care of myself in small ways. Like stretching a bit longer post workout, using the foam roller more regularly, drinking more water, and indulging in massages when my body is achey.

Danielle-MeetTheTrainers

Danielle

For 2017, my goal is stay present and relax in my down time. I believe this will make me a more grounded artist, a stronger dancer, and an even more focused trainer for my Ballet Beautiful clients.

Meet the Trainer - Alexandra

Alexandra

My goal this year is to reduce stress. It takes a toll on your health, so I am going to focus on not taking on more responsibilities than I can handle and to set limits with myself and others. “Everyday life is a series of decisions, small changes that add up to great changes” I am going to really work on: breathing deeply, eating healthy, improving my sleep and thinking positively!

Dioni Meet the Trainer

Dioni

My health goal for 2017 is to drink more water! Starting with a warm lemon water every morning and then having at least 2 liters of water during the day! Water helps me have more energy while I workout, it boosts the immune system and improves my mood!

Healthy Chili 4 Ways!

chili 4

The weather has started to get very cold, which makes us want to stay cozy and warm inside. This type of weather makes you want to eat something comforting and we have the perfect healthy dish! We love chili because it is one of those dishes that warms you up inside but it still nourishing and delicious. It has great protein and fiber and always leaves you feeling satisfied.

There are many variations of chili so you can customize it to fit your taste preferences or dietary needs. Here we show you how you can make a healthy chili 4-ways. Whether you are a vegetarian or love your meat, you will find a way to enjoy this hearty meal!

Chili 1

To make this chili you will first start by cooking the base ingredients to make the soup. Then add your desired protein (from the protein list we provided), and finish with your toppings of choice. We have included the full recipe below. Stay warm & enjoy!

Base Ingredients:
1 onion
1 red pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 can kidney beans
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 can vegetable or chicken broth
tomato paste
chili powder
cumin
Optional:
corn
diced green chilis
jalepenos
cayenne pepper
oregano

Proteins:
1. Cooked lean ground turkey
2. Cooked quinoa
3. Roasted sweet potato and black beans
4. Shredded grilled chicken

Chili 2

Toppings:
Cheddar cheese
Green onion
Jalepenos
Greek Yogurt (healthy alternative to sour cream)
Cilantro
Avocado

chili 3

Directions:

Cook base ingredients in a large pot and add your protein of choice (from the protein list). Simmer for 30-60 minutes and then top with your favorite toppings. As we mentioned, you can customize this healthy chili to include the amount of proteins and toppings you like, so if you love green onions add as much as you like! Or if you do not like jalapenos or cilantro, do not include! Tailor it to what you like 🙂