Natalie Portman took herself from actress to believable ballerina for her role in Black Swan, thanks to an intense training program under the guidance of former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers. Portman trained for up to 8 hours a day, six days a week. "Ballerinas have obvious physical qualities like long, lean muscles and beautiful posture," Bowers says. "We wanted [Natalie] to look the part, but we also wanted to make sure she was able to move and dance like a professional ballerina."
To help Portman build a strong, slim ballerina body, Bowers supplemented ballet classes with swimming, cross-training, and endurance exercises. "We usually started by swimming a mile a day, doing the front crawl and breast stroke," she says. "Then we'd do 2 hours of ballet exercises and resistance work."
You may not need to prepare for center stage like Natalie Portman, but you can still get a dancer's body. Here, Bowers reveals five moves from her Ballet Beautiful workout to help anyone get "strong and fit, but not bulky."