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NEW YORK CITY — At nine months pregnant, most women find themselves too big and exhausted to think about exercise. But ballerina Mary Helen Bowers was dancing all the way up until the day she gave birth a few weeks ago.
The former professional dancer documented her first pregnancy by sharing photos on her Instagram account balletbeautiful.
"I just love knowing that when I'm dancing, the baby is dancing," Bowers, 33, told TODAY.com. "It's just been awesome to know there's this little life that's sharing in everything you do every day."
Besides dancing her way through her entire pregnancy, Bowers owns and operates the fitness company Ballet Beautiful, that touts an exercise program geared to helping women get the long and lean body of a dancer. Her program is so successful, it was used to help Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman transform into a ballerina for her role in Black Swan.
"Mary Helen's technique is based on the motions that ballerinas use all day long. It allows anyone to achieve the long, toned physique of a dancer," Portman wrote in the forward of Bower's book Ballet Beautiful.
Former dancers across the country are also praising Bower's programs.
"For the detractors that may say ballet or Ballet Beautiful isn't strenuous enough, I urge each and every one to take a class and tell me if you can tie your shoes the next day," wrote The Detox Diva on her blog. "The workouts our quite doable though you will burn during some of the different exercises."
wrote Angie on her blog Sternflammende.
With the guidance of her doctor, Bowers was able to keep up with her dancing routines, modifying exercises and poses as her belly got bigger.
"It's not everything that it was," Bowers said. But by focusing on her core and keeping good posture, she's been able to keep up with her rigorous ballet routines.
"I feel like that's really helped me with my balance and helped prevent back pain and a lot of other aches and pains that are really common with pregnancy," Bowers said.
The dancer has spent most of her pregnancy in a leotard and tights, so she has fully embraced the changes her body has made while pregnant.
In addition to the regular Ballet Beautiful fitness regime, Bowers has added a prenatal workout in the hopes that women everywhere can benefit from dancing while pregnant like she has.
"I've really been amazed by how active I've been able to be and how much my body has been able to do," Bowers said. "It's a beautiful time. You feel connected to your body on a level like never before."
Since giving birth to her daughter Lumina Belle on Dec. 26, Bowers is already back in her pointe shoes, this time bringing baby Lumina with her to the studio. For more information on Bowers' ballet routine, visit BalletBeautiful.com.