Ballet dancers are well known for their long, lean muscles, and actress Natalie Portman really gave it her all when she was chosen to play the lead in the new movie Black Swan. In addition to a rigorous diet, she followed a strict 5-8 hour exercise schedule, working with former professional dancer Mary Helen Bowers. Bowers, the founder of Ballet Beautiful, a program that combines traditional ballet with stretching and strengthening exercises, worked with Portman 6 days a week.
“With Natalie, I was focused on making sure her body was that specific shape of a ballerina by strengthening the backs and insides of her legs,” says Bowers. “With ballet you’re really focused on the inner thigh and butt, and just lifting and lengthening everything, including your arms. You’re not using weights but holding up the weight of your own arms is a challenge.”
Try one of Ballet Beautiful’s signature moves, the Ballet Beautiful Bridge. This move targets your inner thighs, the backs of the legs and your glutes — tightening and toning the area from your knees to your waist and giving you a lifted and sculpted bottom.
Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, a classic sit up position. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Straighten one leg and lift it off the floor, keeping the stomach taut. Try to keep the knees together as you attempt to come up onto a “demi-pointe” (lift up one heel onto the the ball of the foot) with the grounded foot. Drop the hips down, not quite touching the mat. Repeat 30 times, keeping the leg raised and never fully lowering your butt to the ground. Repeat with the opposite leg.