Bridal Fitness: How to Shape Up for Your Wedding Day

Wedding workouts to get brides (and grooms) ready for the big day.

Wedding workouts to get brides (and grooms) ready for the big day
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Despite the gazillion details that go into a wedding, what does anyone actually remember? Barring the occasional awkward or unusual moment – like a groom getting light-headed or breaking out into song (both, real-life examples and, thankfully, not the same groom) – most will recall a blur of beauty and joy. However, one image is likely to remain among even the most intoxicated and far-flung of wedding memories: the bride.

"People don't come to the wedding and say, 'Oh, I can't wait to see what the groom is going to look like,'" says New York-based fitness and lifestyle expert Amanda Russell. "The big moment of the whole day is" – Russell gasps for effect – "they open those doors," and ... well, there's a reason the song is called "Here Come's the Bride."

"Even if you're not a girly girl," says Russell, who clearly is one – she and her friends gazed at bridal magazines as little girls – this is "one day that you are on stage."

Naturally, brides want to look their best. And many times, the whole wedding party – brides, grooms, the mothers of each, et cetera – will use the occasion to get in shape.

"Workout partners that are part of the wedding party can be both cheerleaders and adherence monitors for the bride," says Lynn Bode , founder of WorkoutsForYou.com.

[See The Secret to Sticking With Exercise.]

At Russell's one-day "Bridal Boot Camps," which are followed by cocktails, brides, moms and bridesmaids sweat it out together. It's a way of extending the celebration, she explains: "It's not about the day; it's about the journey to get there."

But you don't need a so-called "bridal body buddy" to meet your goals, says Doug Rice, founder of Bridalicious Boot Camp by The Knot, a company focused on wedding planning. "Working out consistently can be enough of a challenge, and trying to coordinate each workout with another person simply adds another hurdle," Rice says. "There's nothing wrong with working out with your groom or friend, but social support is more important than an actual workout partner."

[See Finding Support for Your Health Goals.]

For most brides, the goal is to tighten, tone and trim the fat (with the aim of losing anywhere from 10 to 30 pounds), according to fitness experts in pre-wedding workouts. Given the popularity of strapless wedding gowns, brides generally want to focus on what Rice calls the "bridal trifecta:" arms, backs and shoulders.

[See Arm Exercises for Short-Sleeve Season.]

To meet goals, Russell says to write them down and schedule workouts, just as you would a meeting. "Every person on earth says they're too busy to exercise," she says. "If you want something bad enough, you'll figure out a way to make it happen, and if you don't, you'll always have an excuse."

But how do you approach a big goal that's fixed at some future date? Set smaller goals to reach on a weekly or biweekly basis, Bode says. That could mean three 30-minute walks during lunch hours or running seven miles over the course of one week. "Then you build upon those small goals week after week," she says. "Not only will weekly exercise sessions help with weight loss, it can also do wonders at helping keep stress away."

[See How to Shop for Clothes When You're Losing Weight.]

The more time you have to reach your goals, the better. If you are only a month away from your wedding, consider high-intensity interval training and strength training that uses several muscle groups to see quick results, Bode says.

But whatever the goal, remember to keep a positive attitude, regular routine and a healthy diet, Rice says. "It is almost impossible to simply exercise off the weight ... You must follow a solid, responsible eating program."

In other words, there are no shortcuts.

"Do not consider crash diets," Bode says. "They could result in getting you sick, which will ultimately destroy your chances of reaching your goals. No matter if you have six months, three months or one month of preparation time, you must include cardio work, strength training and healthy, portion-controlled eating. Those three components along with hydration, adequate sleep and minimal stress are the pillars of ensuring you meet your wedding-day weight loss [and] fitness goals."