Ballet Beautiful

Mary Helen you’ve just entered your third trimester of pregnancy. How do you feel?

I’ve been so fortunate to have had such a comfortable, easy pregnancy. It’s really been a dream! With the third trimester starting I’m feeling (and looking!) a lot bigger. Suddenly I have this giant bump and it’s definitely getting heavier to carry around. The first two weeks in the third trimester I could not believe how heavy my belly felt, but now my body is adjusting and I’m feeling more comfortable again. Each stage is so different, it’s really wild to watch and feel your body change as the baby develops.

Is it really safe to exercise while pregnant?

Most experts agree that exercise is a key component to a healthy pregnancy. However, each pregnancy and every woman is very different so it’s always very important to check with your doctor before getting started. I’ve found that the type of low impact exercises in Ballet Beautiful are some of the safest and the best exercises for pregnancy because they really keep the body strong and toned. There are so many health benefits that come from working out during pregnancy – it’s a great way to strengthen and prepare the body for the challenges of labor, prevent and alleviate back pain and keep the energy levels as high as possible.

Can you tell us about the prenatal ballet exercises you’ve been practicing?

I’ve been doing a prenatal specific Ballet Beautiful workout from the beginning of my pregnancy. I think it’s made a world of difference in how I feel. I’m using a mix of our classic Ballet Beautiful exercises like the inner and outer thigh series along with newer prenatal exercises and movements. When your body is undergoing so many changes it feels terrific to work out the muscles in your butt and legs.  You don’t have to give up on having a gorgeous figure just because you are pregnant! There’s really nothing as powerful or beautiful as a pregnant woman’s physique. The female body is so incredible, I’m always so inspired by women that embrace their body when pregnant.

Another area that I’ve focused a lot on with my pregnancy and workouts is the core. I’ve made keeping my core strong a big priority, it has been great for preventing back pain. Carrying a baby is hard work!  The stronger and more fit your body is, the easier the whole thing feels.  And of course I’m doing a lot of arm exercises because the arms seem to hold water from the moment you find out that you are pregnant! I like a mix of weight bearing exercises on the floor and light weights. You can find it all in our upcoming prenatal series. We are releasing our first prenatal workouts on our site next week which can be streamed online, on most mobile devices worldwide and accessed 24/7 so moms can workout on their own schedule. We are also in the process of developing a larger prenatal DVD series.  Stay tuned for amazing new workouts in the months to come!

For those of us who work out at home, what are your go-to moves for the arms, butt, legs, and back?

Ballet Beautiful is all about the at-home workout. Working out from the privacy of home is such a time saver and a total luxury.  All of our videos have been developed with the at home workout in mind and require little, if any, gear and enough room for a mat. In the first and second trimesters I was obsessed with our bridge workouts which really tone the butt and legs. Now that I’m bigger, I’m loving our standing exercises which accomplish something similar without the pressure of being down on your back.

You’re in such great shape pre-baby, it’s incredible. In terms of nutrition, what advice would you give to future moms? What should they eat and not eat?

Nutrition plays a huge role in your fertility so I think it’s extra important to be healthy when thinking about conceiving. The good news is that for the most part, the same foods that are great for your figure are great for getting pregnant too! Lots of leafy greens and fresh, organic produce, fresh fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats are all terrific for getting in shape and getting the body ready for a baby. It’s important for men too so talk to your partner about it! Limiting sugar, white flour and foods that are very acidic goes a long way in cleaning up your diet. For the most part I’ve found that it’s all about making healthy substitutions. For example, I eat high quality dark chocolate instead of baked goods, cookies or cakes.

What’s been your day-to-day look throughout your pregnancy? Do you have any style tips for dressing the baby bump?

I spend most of my time in a leotard and tights which are thankfully very stretchy, and comfortable too! All of my ballet sweaters work perfectly for keeping the arms warm without covering the belly and also work over a fitted top or dress. I love anything stretchy that hugs the bump, particularly if it’s made of cotton! If I’m wearing wool or a heavier material I’ll put a leotard underneath to help keep me from getting too itchy.

I haven’t worn a pair of pants since I started the second trimester and now that I’m so close to the end, I’m just pairing my dresses with tights and boots for fall. I do love a short A line dress that lets you show off your legs as the bump grows, and this summer I wore maxi dresses galore because they are just so easy and practically made for maternity! Mostly Ralph Lauren, Tucker and some DVF. I’ve found that clothes with too much volume or lots of ruffles just make me look bigger. I’ve tried to keep my style as sleek and comfortable as possible. I haven’t bought anything specific for maternity because it just hasn’t seemed necessary. When it comes to dressing the bump I think it’s all about finding looks that are comfortable, and make you feel confident. I love being pregnant and have really embraced my new figure so I’ve enjoyed wearing more fitted, stretchy clothes that hug my bump. In that awkward early phase before the bump pops out but when you feel thicker through the middle, I’m a big fan of sack dresses that hide the waist and emphasize the legs. I have a short khaki number from Ralph Lauren that I practically lived in this summer and am still wearing now just with tights and a sweater.

Have you started shopping for your baby?

I just ordered the crib and started working on the nursery this week! I’ve been so busy focusing on work and getting ready to step back from my business that I’ve hardly even had time to think about it. But the nesting urge is now kicking in in a serious way so that is next on the list!

What are you looking forward to the most?

I cannot wait to meet this little baby! Being pregnant has been so amazing. It’s incredible to know that in just a few more weeks I’ll be holding the baby in my arms. I really cannot wait.

What’s next for Ballet Beautiful?

We always have new projects in the works. We are launching our online prenatal workouts on our website, www.balletbeautiful.com, next week, followed by a new DVD in December. 2014 will be all about our pre and post natal DVD projects. I cannot wait!!

A little bit off-topic, but we’re going to throw this question in because I know many of our readers are curious: You train many of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. What’s the secret behind their perfect, long, lean bodies?

The models that we work with take their bodies so seriously, and it shows!! When you see Lily Aldridge, Miranda Kerr, Doutzen Kroes and Erin Heatherton up on that stage at the Victoria’s Secret show, they look incredible because they really work hard, train like crazy leading up to the show, and eat really well too. Getting your dream body is all about making exercise and healthy eating a regular part of your every day life. And the way that you train the body and sculpt each muscle makes a huge difference. We work on helping the girls get as long and toned as possible without building any extra bulk. The body shape from Ballet Beautiful is ultra feminine but powerful too.

We realize it’s best to go about weight loss post-pregnancy without any rush, but what are your tricks for those who are looking to get back in shape in a shorter amount of time?

One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to workout and eat well during pregnancy! It helps the body bounce back so much more quickly. Once your doctor clears you to workout after the baby it’s all about finding time in your day to exercise, and making your own health and fitness a priority. So many new moms feel guilty taking time for themselves to workout but its so great for the confidence and getting your body lean and strong again. Even if you don’t have a full hour, start with just 15 minutes a day and build from there.  As the baby sleeps more and you start to see results, you’ll be motivated to do more and more!

Cinematography and editing by David Sabshon

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