Shape Up in 15 Minutes


Though I advocated a Fashion’s Night In for those unwilling to brave the crowds—and oh,  fellas, there were crowds—last night, I caved and darted up to the UES to see my favorite fitness guru, Ballet Beautiful creator Mary Helen Bowers, at J. Mendel. Ballet beautiful trainers were en pointe in the windows [2] and Mary Helen [1] was rocking a strapless J. Mendel cocktail dress like nobody's business, replete with loosely braided low bun, and bright crimson lips (courtesy Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' Lip Tar in NSFW). “I was looking for inspiration for my hair tonight and was googling 'glamorous Old Hollywood' and ‘buns’ and I kept finding pictures of Taylor Swift!” She laughed. “So, I guess I’m going for a Taylor Swift-Rita Hayworth thing...” Funnily enough, Taylor was doing her best Bianca Jagger in J. Mendel across the country at the VMAs, so I guess the feeling was mutual.

Mary Helen promised to e-mail us a quick guide to surviving fashion-week madness with a 15-minute workout you can do anywhere. And voilà! This morning, she delivered:

“My first tip is to be realistic about your schedule (it's probably bananas) and ditch the all-or-nothing mentality. Are you really going to meet your trainer after the shows at night and blow off work-parties or a glass of wine with friends? Probably not. So, if you aren't normally a morning workout person, now is your chanceand it's all about working out from home.

For starters set aside four mornings a week and set your alarm an extra 30min early. Are you sleepy?? Yes, me too. But making fitness a priority will energize you, make you look and feel better and help diffuse stress. If you have a full hour, awesome! But don't underestimate how far 30 min will take you. It's always better to do something small rather than nothing.

Think your apartment is too small? It's not. I have done this workout in the tiniest hotel room in Paris, backstage at the Mariinsky and on set in a Brooklyn warehouse when filming Karen Elson's The Truth Is In The Dirt video. If you have room for a towel on the floor, you have room for this workout.

For abs: Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and the arms open wide in second position. Lift the body up, contracting the abs as you close the arms to first position—a wide circle—just above the abdomen. Pull the stomach in, closing and opening the arms as you lift up and lower. Repeat 30 x.

For arms: As you sit, extend your legs out straight and place your hands just behind your hips, with your fingers facing out. Lift your hips off the ground as you stretch the elbows, keeping your chest open and your neck long. Pull your stomach in tight and then bend the elbows slightly. Repeat 30 x. [Note: also try Mary Helen's 'Swan Arms' routine; it is much harder than you'd think.]

Bridge (for legs and glutes): On your back with your knees bent, brace your abs, straighten one leg and lift it off the floor while keeping your stomach flat. Try to keep the knees together as you attempt to come up onto a 'demi-pointe' (rise up onto the ball of the foot) with your grounded foot. Drop your hips down until they're not quite touching the mat. Repeat 30x, keeping the leg raised and never fully lowering, then repeat with opposite leg."

And, should you be interested, you can stream a full 15-minute Ballet Beautiful Body Blast (TM!) online, from the comfort of your home (and maybe even from your home before a fashion show, unless you're me, in which case you're spending that time cursing your shoes/screaming "no more wire hangers!!!!!" at no one in particular, doing small furtive laps around your apartment looking for your phone/keys/sanity, etc.).

—Alessandra Codinha

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  • katemossdaily

    I'm going to try these! A little toning wouldn't hurt me, and this sounds like something easy to squeeze in to my schedule.

  • sandra mcdonough

    So going to try this!

  • this is lemonade

    Thanks for sharing. I need to get into shape. 15 minutes would be a great start!

  • ROKderm

    Excellent tip! I'm very much the all or nothing kind of person when it comes to workout, and it's good to be reminded that as little as 15 a day will make a difference! Thank you for sharing!