Surviving Ballet Beautiful

In ‘Laura’s New Potato’ TNP co-founder Laura Kosann takes you through her experience on a “popular potato” on the health scene. At the end, check out where the fad falls on our new five-potato rating system. This week it’s all about Ballet Beautiful…

I know it’s not quite Throwback Thursday yet, but when I was a kid, I used to become obsessed with the activities in movies I’d see. After The Parent Trap came out I took up fencing,  when I saw The Mighty Ducks I needed to be a hockey player, and when I saw Center Stage…well let’s just say I still owe my Dad for a year’s worth of dance classes. Apparently that passion hasn’t quite yet disappeared as I recently tried delving into Ballet Beautiful… 

You know when you go to the ballet and marvel at the dancers floating one arm up and down with grace? Now imagine yourself doing that movement 2,000 times, until you can no longer feel the limb that you swore was there before…and then do it another thousand times. Welcome to Ballet Beautiful.

Mary Helen Bowers – the face of this exercise empire (that promises ballet bodies to the everyday gal trying to find a good workout) – may be a nice person. She could be the nicest person on the planet, a living and breathing saint, but after fifteen minutes of doing one of her workout videos, she became number one on my shit list. No hard feelings MHB.

To set the record straight, this wasn’t because Bowers’ tips and training didn’t work; I know she was Natalie Portman’s trainer for Black Swan (which perhaps explains Portman’s slightly unhinged manner throughout the entire movie…just saying).  I felt frustrated because suddenly waterboarding seemed a more pleasant option after the 500th time I moved my toe in small circles like MHB instructed (a movement that seemed so innocent and easy the first 150 times).

When one of Bowers’ videos start, it seems like it should be a cinch. Many of them are a mere fifteen minutes long, and have pretty names like Swan Arms, Lean Legs & Buns and Total Body Sculpt. Once I started doing them though, there was nothing pretty, easy or graceful about it. On the contrary I became somewhat like a guest on Jerry Springer, or a cast member on one of Andy Cohen’s Bravo reunions – red-faced, yelling at no one, and babbling incoherently with no one to blame but myself.

I’m afraid it didn’t even help that Bowers was right there doing the exercises with me. Especially when she’d say – ever so calmly – something like “Oo, this is starting to burn a bit.” It was then that I found myself yelling things like “Mary Helen, you’re a liar!” at the screen. Not a pretty sight folks.

All in all though, this is a new potato that does work if you stick to it. I’ve done many workouts and hate not sweating or feeling sore the next day. You will have both those sensations with Ballet Beautiful, and you’ll discover muscles you didn’t even know you had (and perhaps, after a few videos, lose all feeling in them). Hey, you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelette right? This doesn’t mean I’m no longer mad at you Mary Helen, but maybe one day – when I’m in far better shape – we can plié together in harmony…


– Laura Kosann