Professional ballet instructor Mary Helen Bowers is nine months pregnant, but she hasn't let that slow her down - she says she'll continue dancing until she gives birth in one week.
Bowers, 33, is a former dancer with the New York City Ballet and the creator of Ballet Beautiful, a low-impact exercise routine that strengths and tones the same muscles used in ballet. She's renowned for whipping supermodels Miranda Kerr and Doutzen Kroes into shape, as well as training Natalie Portman in ballet for her role in the 2010 film, "Black Swan." Now, in her 3rd trimester, Bowers is staying active with daily ballet workouts and hopes to inspire others with her pre-and-post natal workout series.
"They key to working out during pregnancy is listening to your body," Bowers tells Yahoo Shine. "This time is about more than just you. My doctor closely monitors my exercise routine and I collaborated with medical experts for my pre-natal video series." Bowers also adds that her exercises target her core. "You can't do much about the middle of the stomach where the baby is, but there are ways to tone your sides, which I've found helps with my back pain," she says.
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Bowers has received plenty of support for staying fit throughout her pregnancy, however the issue of how much to exercise during pregnancy can be controversial. In September, Lea-Ann Elison, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother from Los Angeles sparked a global frenzy when photos of her weight lifting at eight months pregnant hit the Internet. Elison is a devotee of Crossfit, an hour-long, high-intensity workout that incorporates core strengthening using Olympic weights, tire flipping, kettle bells, and medicine balls. The workout is intense- many have cited overexertion and exhaustion as a result of participating. But how safe is ballet, generally a low-impact route for expecting moms?
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"As long as a pregnant woman is accustomed to being on her feet, she wouldn't necessarily be restricted from ballet dancing as long as she pays attention to her body and rests if she experiences dizziness, weakness, or blurred vision," says Joshua Cohen, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and perinatologist. "In general, pregnant women in their third trimester should avoid exercises such as climbing machines or the Elliptical because beyond 25-28 weeks, the center of gravity changes which can cause a person to lose their balance and fall."
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