Ballet Beautiful: Fitness Moves for a Long, Toned Body

Ever want the long, lean body of a ballerina? (Who doesn’t!) What if we told you it’s possible to strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility, and no dance experience is required?

Follow along as professional ballerina Mary Helen Bowers (creator of the Ballet Beautiful fitness method) demonstrates how to incorporate ballet-inspired toning moves into your fitness routine. The low-impact exercises are easy on the joints and great for strengthening hard-to-reach areas like the arms, inner thighs, and back. Click through to get started!

1The Ballet Twist

A strong core is essential for a ballet body. To whittle your waist, pull in your abs as you slightly lean back, sightly twisting to one side. Sit up and repeat on the other side.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the full move.

2The Advanced Ballet Twist

As you get more advanced with the Ballet Twist, raise one arm as you lean back.

3Classic Swam Arms

One of the hallmark features of a fit ballerina body is a strong back, which looks great and helps prevent back pain. “Swan arms” will tone your arms and your back. Stand tall, pull in your stomach and gracefully lift arms up and down, bending at the elbows.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the full move.

4The Bridge

You know that spot right under your butt that no exercise seems to target? Well, here ya go. Lay flat on your back with your knees bent, engage your core and lift your hips in the air. Repeat for four sets of 10.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the full move.

5The Reverse Leg Lift

Want a perky, ballet-esque butt? Try this move to tone your backside from your lower back all the way down your hamstring. Prop yourself up on all fours, engage your core and lift an opposite arm and leg. Stretch and straighten your lifted leg as long as you can, pointing your toes. Do four sets of 10; switch.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the full move.

6The Ballet Lunge Lift

This is a more advanced version of the reverse lift. Stand with one leg bent, the other stretched out long behind you. Straighten your bent leg as you lift and stretch the back leg away from your body.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the full move.

7The Side Leg Lift

Saddlebags begone! Target the stubborn area on the side of your hips. Sit on one side and stretch your top leg as straight as you can away from your body. Then bend the knee, bringing your heel toward your butt, and straighten again. Do four sets of 10 (work through the shaking!) and then switch to the other side.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the ful move.

8The Plié Tendu

Work your legs and back at the same time. Stand on one leg with your other leg pointed in front of you. Round your arms in first position. Lightly hop onto your pointed leg, transfering your weight forward and pointing the other leg behind you. As you move forward, push your arms out and back, like you’re swimming.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the full move.

9The Standing Stretch

Stand tall with one leg pointed behind you. Then bend your front leg so you’re in a lunge, with your back foot flat. Stretch forward with your arms to lengthen through your sides and legs.

MORE: Watch Mary Helen demonstrate the full move.

10The Hamstring Stretch

Stretching at the end of a workout is very important for increasing mobility and allowing you to get deeper into the moves. Don’t skip it! If you sit at a desk all day, this stretch is especially important.

QUIZ: Find out how much physical activity you get each day.

11The Advanced Hamstring Stretch

As your flexibility increases, twist away from your bent knee for the ultimate deep hamstring stretch.

Rejoice! Now you are on your way to getting the toned body you’ve always wanted. Aim for three workouts a week and you’ll start to see results in a few weeks.

To train online with Mary Helen, visit Ballet Beautiful to download streaming videos you can do in the comfort of your own home, or to join a live online class with one of her fabulous ballet trainers.

MORE: Are barre fitness classes for you?