When I was little I wanted to be a ballerina. (Well, either that or a check out girl.) But, because I was born with two left feet and about as much grace as Oscar the Grouch, I soon realized that being lifted by Baryshnikov was not in my cards.
That doesn't mean I don't still marvel over the majesty of the ballet. The elegance, the sophistication, and quiet reserve the dancers bring to their art is truly remarkable -- and don't even get me started on their bodies. Long, lean, muscular, strong and powerful -- ballerina bodies are certainly sights to behold and forms to covet. 'Till now I've wallowed over this more than I care to admit, but now it looks like I no longer have to. Hear ye: You don't need God-given talent to achieve the beautiful, limber body of a ballerina.
Related: 5 Workouts Celebrities Swear By
Former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers, 32, who trained Natalie Portman for her role in "Black Swan," just released a new exercise and lifestyle manual called "Ballet Beautiful."
It's based on her successful ballet-centric workout studio in New York City, which has a star-studded clientele including Liv Tyler, Zooey Deschanel, and of course, Portman.
The Oscar winner attests to the regimen's ability to lengthen, strengthen, and tone your body while also improving your poise. After training with Bowers, Portman said, "My arms and legs completely changed shape. My posture looked, as my dad said, like I had swallowed a broom."
And, while Bowers' routine is clearly a Godsend for all of us failed ballerinas, there's hope for the rest of you, too. These days there are lots of "out of the box" fitness regimens that're innovative, effective and oh-so-much more fun than riding a bike to nowhere. Here are 5 more fitness fads that are fast gaining legions of fans.
What it is: Remember when Pink sang while dangling from within a piece of material at the 52nd Grammy Awards? Well, you can do the same if you've got the guts (though hopefully you'll take it to less of an extreme). This technique, created by former gymnast Christopher Harrison to help relieve his back pain, is more than just proof that hammocks aren't just for laying around in. It blends traditional yoga with acrobatics, gymnastics, Pilates and calisthenics and is available at gyms across the country like Om Factory and Crunch. Find a location near you.
What it costs: Class rates vary; we found them for as little as $10 to as much as $35, depending on the gym. (You can also get an inversion swing for about $130 for home use, but we recommend taking the classes first -- duh.)
Why it's fun: Um, aside from the fact that you get to defy gravity? You get a total body workout designed to relieve stress, and improve coordination, strength, flexibility and joint mobility.
What it is: A really hard-to-pronounce yet buzz-worthy workout from Pilates expert Anna Rahe that uses original, spring-loaded equipment and choreography to help you "achieve radical body transformation." Also incorporated is a body-balancing diet based on your blood and Ayurvedic types.
What it costs: $15-$35 per class
Why it's fun: Aside from sculpting your body into (you guessed it) a dancer's physique, it has helped some students relieve chronic pain issues and feel more free and childlike during class. (Now, if they could just start teaching it outside of California and New York ...)
What it is: Remember the many hours you spent going 'round and 'round the roller rink? Well, skating is back, but it's better this time around. Derby Lite, a roller-derby-inspired fitness class (sans the violence) incorporates stretching, conditioning, cardio and skating drills for all-over fitness. Started by roller-derby-competitor-turned-mom Barbara "Queen B" Dolan of Oak Park, Ill., it's poised to take the country by storm.
What it costs: Dues are $60 per month, plus required gear. (If Derby Lite isn't in your town, let them know.)
Why it's fun: You get a tough, two-hour workout that makes you feel like a kid again, and an excuse to buy some pretty nifty gold-plated skates. You can even work out in fishnets!
Related: Get Kim Kardashian's Body in 30 Days
What it is: This video game on Kinect for Xbox 360 (think Wii Fit) lets you put your body into the game and acts as your personal trainer. With workouts created by "Women's Health", it tracks your movements, gives you feedback and builds workouts based on your body type, fitness level and goals.
What it costs: $49.99 (downloads are extra)
Why it's fun: 1. It's a video game. And 2. You can download "Dance Workout: Bollywood" from XBOX Live in addition to the celeb-trainer-approved exercises that already come with the program.
What it is: Pilates meets boxing. Created by Swedish dancer and celeb trainer Viveca Jensen, this technique blends sexy dance moves, Pilates moves and boxing moves to sculpt your core and arms while giving you an intense cardio workout.
What it costs: $16 per class (at her main studio); $19.95 for the DVD; $24 for the weighted gloves
Why it's fun: It worked for the Duff sisters and a few Victoria's Secret models? Sold.