The beauty of New York is that anything is possible. People move here from all over the world to fulfill lifelong dreams. And when you’re raising a little one here, the options of what he or she can achieve are endless. For professional ballerina and creator of Ballet Beautiful Mary Helen Bowers, that lifelong dream was ballet. “I moved to NYC when I was 15 to study on a scholarship at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet. The next fall, I was invited to join New York City Ballet, where I danced for 10 years,” she says.
From there, Mary Helen transformed her talent as a ballerina to build Ballet Beautiful, a workout program for dancers and non-dancers alike. “This company has been so many years in the making. It has given me an incredible opportunity to share my love of ballet, along with the artistry and athleticism of dance, with so many other women around the world,” says Mary Helen.
“It's been amazing to realize how many people out there are seeking a transformative workout that strengthens and empowers you from the inside out. Ballet Beautiful is a workout, but it's also a state of mind. It's about connecting with your inner strength and beauty and manifesting that power in a healthy, happy way each day,” she says.
And while Ballet Beautiful was already transformative for so many people, it was Mary Helen’s most transformative stage--her pregnancy with her 18-month-old daughter Lumina Belle--that led her to create the prenatal workout Ballet Baby.
Here, Mary Helen tells us about her own pregnancy experience and how it influenced Ballet Baby, and shows us her favorite spots ’round town.
How did Ballet Baby come to fruition?
Ballet Beautiful is the workout that I spent years seeking for myself as a professional ballerina, both on and off the stage. Ballet Baby is in many ways an extension of Ballet Beautiful in that the workouts and program were built around my experience while pregnant and my desire to create a program to help other women stay healthy, strong and fit throughout pregnancy.
Why is working out while pregnant so important?
People talk a lot about prenatal fitness and its benefits--there are so many! Working out while pregnant helps the body maintain strength and muscle tone. It relieves fatigue and many of the common aches and pains associated with pregnancy. I also think that one of the more overlooked but incredibly important aspects of working out while pregnant is how much easier it makes your life as a new mom. Getting back in shape can be tough, and time is precious with a new baby in the house. I think most moms have had a postpartum moment where they wondered if their body would ever come back. It will, and it does with time and the right workouts! There is no question that going into motherhood strong and fit makes the process of getting back into shape easier, faster and less stressful as well.
Can people go into your studio and take classes?
Our Soho studio offers small group classes and private lessons to members. We also provide many online options for training which can be a lifesaver as a mom. We teach live classes online and have an amazing monthly subscription filled with challenging workouts that can be done anywhere, anytime.
Does your daughter like ballet yet? How important is it for you to pass on this gift?
She loves dancing with mommy. I think as a parent the most important thing is to help your children find and realize their special gifts. For me that was ballet. For Lumina it could be anything--astrophysics, swimming, math... Whatever it is, we will support her every step of the way.
Please share some of your favorite NYC spots...
Coffee: Ground Support in Soho
Baby/Kids shops: Giggle is great for newborn essentials. I wish I had more time for shopping. I buy almost everything online!
Beauty: Fresh is a favorite. I love their soaps, face masks and creams.
Playdate: Something outdoors. The carousel or the zoo!
Clothes shopping: MiniMode is a fun new site. I'm short on time so most of my purchases are made online!
Nosh: Bare Burger is family friendly.
Secret Spot: The Cloisters is so beautiful. It's not the best for a stroller, but it’s filled with beauty and feels like you are stepping back in time.
A dose of fresh air: The Bronx Botanical Gardens are incredibly beautiful and diverse.
Photography by Raquel Langworthy
Hair by Jacob Rozenberg
Makeup by Ylenia Mazzei
Activewear and shoes by Ballet Beautiful