SOHO — Fitness instructor Mary Helen Bowers knows the secret behind Victoria's Secret models' perfectly toned bodies: her carefully crafted dance-inspired workout moves.
Bowers is the ballerina behind Ballet Beautiful, a dance-inspired workout that she teaches out of a SoHo studio to a bevy of Victoria's Secret supermodels — helping them earn the coveted tight abs and lean legs that steam up catwalks and commercials across the globe.
"The first Angel that I started to work with was Miranda Kerr and that was over two years ago, and then Lindsay Ellington started to come in to the studio," said Bowers, a former dancer who joined the New York City Ballet in her teens and was a prima ballerina.
Bowers now trains other Angels, including Lily Aldridge, Doutzen Kroes and Erin Heatherton, with a ballet-inspired workout that sculpts swan-like arms and tones abdominals for those revealing lingerie shoots.
Kerr, who recently had a child with actor and ex-husband Orlando Bloom, credits her post-baby abdominals to her regular sessions with Bowers. The supermodel gave Bowers a shout-out in October, posting an Instagram shot of herself in Bowers' studio.
Bowers often trains with the models backstage at runway shows, as well as on-site.
"For the most of the year, we're doing three or four days a week, depending on what is going on their schedule and if there's a big shoot," Bowers said. She added that most of the sessions are a one-hour workout, but the schedule increases to longer sessions before a big event, such as the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
The movements in Ballet Beautiful combine modified fitness positions and resistance work with classical ballet moves that target the muscles dancers use.
"It's all the way you treat the body — inner thighs are huge in ballet," Bowers said. "For a ballerina, the worst thing imaginable is big thighs."
As a result, Bowers eschews thigh-building gym squats in favor of thigh-slimming ballet classics like the Grand Plié.
Bowers unrolled a mat in her studio to demonstrate a typical Ballet Beautiful move that targets "ballet muscles" — inner thighs and the buttocks. The former ballerina placed both of her shins on the mat with one hand on a chair and then began drawing her opposite knee out to the side.
"It's a modified arabesque," Bowers said.
Bowers had to turn to online sessions and bring in extra backup to free up her time to coach Portman for the grueling role in 2010. Following the release of "Black Swan," Bowers opened the SoHo studio in the spring of 2011 and hired professional dancers to teach Ballet Beautiful private lessons to handle the demand.
The former ballerina also has DVDs, videos and online workouts for on-the-go practitioners or students not able to indulge in an on-site private lesson.