Mary Helen Bowers, who trained Natalie Portman for Black Swan, reveals key exercises from the actress's fitness routine.
Every good workout begins with mat work! Ballet Beautiful founder Mary Helen Bowers shares a few of her favorite exercises from her new video series, debuting online next month.
1. Lengthen Your Bod
"Stretching before and after every workout keeps muscles supple and helps elongate the lines of a ballerina's limbs," says Bowers. "Begin by lying on your back and bringing your leg above you, pulling the ankle gently toward your head. Work toward stretching your knee all the way straight over time. Change legs."
2. Be Ab-Fab:
"For a ballerina, the center of balance is everything-creating a strong center of balance begins with building strong abdominal muscles," says Bowers. "Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and the arms open wide in second position. Lift the body up, contracting the abs as you close the arms to first position-a wide yet graceful circle with the hands-just above the abdomen. Pull the stomach in, closing and opening the arms as you lift up and lower. Repeat 30 times."
3. Firm Your Behind
According to Bowers, ballerinas are known for their "tight, toned butts!" To work on your derrière, begin on your hands and knees and make sure you have plenty of cushion underneath. "Bring one knee into your chest and then extend the leg straight back, into arabesque," says Bowers. "Stretch the knee all the way and be sure to pull in through your stomach. Repeat 30 times, then change legs."
Ballerinas are known for their elegant posture and strong yet graceful upper bodies. "Sitting down on the mat, extend your legs out straight and place your hands just behind your hips, with the fingers facing the outer edge of the mat," says Bowers. "Lift your hips off the mat as you stretch the elbows, keeping your chest open and your neck long. Pull your stomach in tight and then bend the elbows slightly. Repeat this 30 times." Ballet Beautiful
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