How to Build a Workout Plan Between 'Will You' and 'I Do'
"Looking your best on your wedding day is about feeling your best," according to Ryan Ashley Miller, personal trainer and founder of Rise Up Fitness. "So much emphasis is placed on the number on the scale, but I can promise you from training with past brides that even if you are a few pounds from your goal weight, you will be the most beautiful if you feel strong, feel confident."
Most women—and a lot of men—find a renewed interest in fitness in the months leading up to a wedding. There will be photos. There will be crowds of people staring. It's understandable that a bride or groom would want to look their best for this major life moment. What's concerning is the number of people who fall into unhealthy habits in pursuit of a "better" body. Chasing a number on a scale or size tag may give you a benchmark for measuring success, but it can also drive you crazy.
So what's the alternative?
Jenn Philpot, group fitness instructor and manager of the Cardio-Tone studios in San Francisco, designed her pre-wedding workout routine around a run instead of a walk down the aisle. "I had won a spot at the Warrior Dash World Championships in October of 2014. I set [my wedding] date [to be] one month before my race, knowing that this would give me extra incentive to get in tip top shape," Philpot explains. "Setting a performance-based goal...was more motivating than just wanting to look good in my dress. Knowing that skipped workouts meant my performance might suffer kept me pushing forward."
As Philpot's wedding and race dates drew near, her workouts became harder. "Since I was training I had to increase my workouts as well as add on mileage to my runs." Because her arms and back would be on display in her dress, she also threw in additional sculpting exercises. "That ended up helping me in my race with having to climb over walls, too," said Philpot.
If a race or athletic contest isn't your idea of a good time, just apply the planning component to your workout routine.
"Whether you are four weeks or four months away from your wedding when you start training, map it out," Miller suggests. When thinking about that plan, he recommends three guiding principles: sane, safe, and achievable. "Mix up your workouts to combine cardio, and variety. If you love SoulCycle, continue to go and love it because you sweat like hell, probably sing, and your spirit is lifted. Run outdoors for fresh air, peace of mind, and to be alone with yourself. Your training sessions will be your refuge and double as therapy sessions."
Aside from making a plan, hold yourself accountable by sharing your training calendar with a training partner—who could be your bridesmaid, sister, or friend. Include the exact number of days, and block out your plan week-by-week. That's not to say you must do a Spin class on May 17 because that's the plan you set in March. (Remember: this should be sane.) But if you decided to do cardio workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then you might decide to take a Spin class on May 17 because it's a Wednesday. That can be a decision you make the weekend before—or even the day of—based on how you're feeling about your routine.
Miller says your calendar should be your guide at the start of each week before your workouts and meal planning. And while you're scheduling, don't forget about hydration and sleep—two incredibly important elements to feeling and looking your best. Both Miller and Philpot stress the importance of rest days. Philpot says she would take a yoga class or go for a mellow swim to help her muscles loosen up and get re-centered, while Miller recommends a walk or restorative yoga practice on your day off.
If you need help creating a wedding workout routine or getting started, a personal trainer is a solid investment. "Personal training teaches and guides clients to understand the importance of form, functional movement, and how to move and breathe correctly," according to Miller. "The job and responsibility of a good trainer is to educate a client to be strong and successful in any experience outside of their training sessions."
Fly solo or hire a pro: the choice is yours. But when it comes to shredding for the wedding, listen to the experts. A solid plan is your first step to wedding fitness success.