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JewishJournal.com

October 20, 2011

Focus on fitness

Targeted plans help brides-to-be get in shape

http://www.jewishjournal.com/tribe/article/weddings_focus_on_fitness_20111020

From reality TV shows to ads for bridal boot camps, it’s no secret that many women want to slim down for their wedding.

But the average bride-to-be endures months of parties, tastings and never-ending to-do lists leading up to her big day – and it can be a daunting feat to try to drop pounds and keep them off.

But with enough time and the right attitude, says Leslie Maltz, owner of the Topham Street Gym in Reseda, most women can achieve their goals of looking their best when they walk down the aisle.

“Brides want to drop dress sizes,” she said, adding that her average bridal client hopes to lose between 20 and 25 pounds before the big day. “And if they are really focused, it’s doable.”

The first thing that women should keep in mind, said Maltz, who also runs a boot camp in the Valley, is not to wait until the last minute to start eating right and exercising.

“I’ve had people contact me 10 days from the wedding,” she said. “They wanted me to give them a magic pill that makes their body transform.”

Instead, she advises the affianced to begin any weight-loss program at least 12 weeks in advance.

“Twelve weeks out from the wedding is perfect, because it gets you really excited, and it gets you on a plan that is doable,” she said. “It also gives you more motivation, and you know that after 12 weeks, there is an end.”

Once a time frame for getting in shape has been established, personal trainer Doug Rice, who developed the program Bridalicious Boot Camp in Beverly Hills and now runs it out of Dallas, Texas, suggests enlisting the help of a friend for support and encouragement.

Rice, who also has a top-selling bridal workout DVD on leading wedding Web site TheKnot.com, came up with the idea of having a loved one or member of the wedding party bear witness to the bride’s weight-loss goals.

“I have them sign a Fitubah,” said Rice, who is Jewish. “It’s a contract that the bride makes with herself and her bridal body buddy, who holds her accountable.”

The contract begins: “I, _____, of sound mind but currently not a sound enough body, enter into this fitness contract with myself.”

If a Fitubah isn’t part of your workout plan, though, Maltz still suggests involving someone else in your get-fit plan — like the person to whom you’re about to commit the rest of your life.

“Grooms also want to look good, although it’s generally just for their honeymoon night,” she said. “They want to lose their gut, build up their chest and tone up their arms.”

Working out together, she says, can increase both partners’ motivation, and each can keep the other on track during the busy months leading up to the wedding.

When it comes to specific exercises for those about to don a bridal gown, many women want to target the areas that will show most prominently in photos and that will be visible in strapless gowns: the back, the arms and the shoulders.

To accomplish this, Maltz and Rice agree that the best bet is interval training, which alternates between short bursts of high-intensity cardio and rests, or slower intervals of movement, and resistance training using dumbbells or even the body’s own weight.

Maltz tasks her brides with working out at least three days a week, for an hour at a time, at maximum output.

And while the upper body might be the main focus of a bride’s critical eye, the rest of her figure shouldn’t go unattended to, adds Rice.

“Most brides are going to go to a beach for the honeymoon, and don’t forget about the wedding night,” he said. “You want everything to be toned and looking awesome.”

But even the most disciplined bride-to-be can’t escape the months before the wedding without the inevitable parties, alcohol and food sampling.

To get through the social obligations without undoing all her efforts at the gym, Rice suggests keeping drinking to a minimum — but not eliminating it altogether.

“When you are a bride, there is a lot of social drinking,” he said. “Just limit yourself to a couple of drinks.”

And, he adds, for brides who have the overwhelming urge to let loose, pick one party a month at which to do so. Other than that, he says, “You have to keep your mind focused on your goals.”

When faced with tasting sample menus, cakes and appetizers for the big day, Maltz reminds those who might be prone to overdoing it, there’s a reason it’s called a tasting.

“The truth of the matter is, if you’re just tasting one or two bites, it’s not a problem,” she said. “But it’s when you eat something and you like it and eat the whole thing” that the damage is done.

“Keep the tasting to a taste,” she said.

By the time most brides’ weddings roll around, Maltz notes, if all went according to plan, there’s no reason they can’t lose anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds within three or four months. 

And, for Rice, it’s satisfying to know that he was able to help worried brides feel beautiful on such an important day.

“As I like to say, I take them from kvetching to fetching.”

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