Get a ballerina’s body without setting foot near a barre? Sign us up!

I’d already gotten to test drive Mary Helen Bowers’ proven technique (the former New York City Ballet member used it to train Natalie Portman for Black Swan) while I was writing about her new DVD, Ballet Beautiful: Total Body Workout, for SHAPE’s October issue, but I wanted the rest of the SHAPE team to see how effective her simple exercise strategy is. I was so thankful when Bowers invited us to her sunny Soho fitness studio for a lesson.

Good thing we arrived ready to work! After 45 minutes of bodyweight moves like bridges and ab twists, plus “swan arms,” relevés, and tendues, we were sweating and sore. Bowers’ secret? Lots (and I mean lots) of reps. Because there’s no equipment, and you don’t need more space than your mat takes up, you can do the workout literally anywhere. Which means you have no excuse not to sign up for her live, interactive classes. That is, unless you don’t want to be slim, sculpted, and strong like a professional dancer…? Yeah, that’s what we thought.

Interested in the class? Watch this promo video from Mary Helen Bowers below and get ready to sweat!

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