By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
Natalie Portman's new movie "Black Swan" hits theaters today, and given all of the Oscar buzz, we can't wait to see it!
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In the film, Portman plays a ballerina. After watching the trailer for this psychological thriller, it's clear that while the actress has some natural talent (she danced ballet as a kid), she had to train like crazy for this role. She looks amazing, and moves with the grace of a pro!
That's all thanks to a year of training six days a week (5 to 8 hours a day) with Mary Helen Bowers, a former professional ballerina in New York City and founder of Ballet Beautiful. Her method combines traditional ballet with stretching and strengthening exercises.
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"With Natalie I was focused on making sure her body was that specific shape of a ballerina by strengthening the backs and insides of her legs," says Bowers. "With ballet you're really focused on the inner thigh and butt, and just lifting and lengthening everything, including your arms. You're not using weights but holding up the weight of your own arms is a challenge."
Here are three of Portman's go-to Ballet Beautiful moves:
Ballet Beautiful Stretch
Bowers begins and ends workouts with a stretch to keep the muscles long and lean.
To get started, lie down on your back with toes pointed and lift one leg straight up. Grab it with both hands, around the calf or foot if possible, and gently pull the leg toward your face as you raise your shoulders off off the ground. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. This opens your glutes and the muscles on the back of the leg. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Ballet Beautiful Bridge
This move targets your inner thighs, the backs of the legs and your glutes -- tightening and toning the area from your knees to your waist.
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Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Brace your abs and straighten one leg and lift it off the floor, keeping the stomach flat. Try to keep the knees together as you attempt to come up onto a "demi-point" (rise up onto the the ball of the foot) with the grounded foot. Drop the hips down, not quite touching the mat (see image below). Repeat 30 times, keeping the leg raised and never fully lowering, then repeat with the opposite leg.
Ballet Beautiful Abs
Begin lying on your back with arms extended to the sides (in second position). Bend the knees slightly and, with toes pointed on the floor, brace your abs as you lift your upper body and bring your fingertips together in front of you (first position). Keep the stomach pulled in as you lift and lower, alternating arm position as you go. Repeat 30 times.
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Photo Credit: IMDb.com