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How to Get in Shape for Your Wedding

Whether you’re looking to slim down, tone up or just work off some wedding planning stress before the big day, a healthy wedding workout plan is really important.

Photo: Brett Loves Elle Photography

Sweating for the wedding! Whether you’re looking to slim down, tone up or just work off some wedding planning stress before the big day, a healthy wedding workout plan is an important part of getting ready for your walk down the aisle.

If you’re incorporating exercise into your wedding day countdown, consider these wedding workout tips.

Start Early
You said yes! Once you’ve slipped that engagement ring on your finger (or even before), it’s never too early to start a wedding workout. An early start guarantees you can tone up in a healthy manner. Crash diets don’t guarantee weight loss, but they do guarantee a grumpy bride. “A wedding is a great opportunity to reach new fitness goals,” says Danielle Devine-Baum, a Master Instructor and Creative Director for Flywheel Sports, which offers spinning and barre classes in many major cities. “I would suggest brides-to-be start making healthy lifestyle changes as soon as they set a date for the wedding. This allows enough time to set attainable goals and plan ahead.”

Say Yes to the Dress
Finding that perfect wedding dress is sure to kick start your wedding workout goals. Once you know what you’re working toward (Are you showing off your shoulders in a strapless dress? Highlighting your hips in a mermaid style? Slimming down overall to carry off a beautiful ball gown?), you’ll be able to tailor your cardio and strength-training schedule to get targeted results. “There’s nothing more motivating than having a wedding to get in shape for!” says Susie Zender, a certified personal trainer at VIDA Fitness in Washington, DC. “My brides are the most determined of my clients. Following an exercise plan for your wedding will jump start you into a good fitness routine that you can continue even after you’re married.”

Set up a Schedule
Your wedding checklist can seem endless with countless ‘to-dos’ each month. Incorporating your wedding workout into your checklist not only guarantees you’ll get it done, but it also offers an outlet to manage the stress of wedding planning. Exercising helps with “stress reduction, better sleep, improved posture, higher energy, improvements in mood and an overall sense of wellbeing,” says Caity Davis, a certified personal trainer at FitOne Studio in Alexandria, Virginia. “This can all be beneficial during wedding planning. The time you put into exercise, you get back due to the increase in energy you’ll have to get more things done—and feel better about doing them!”

Aim for a manageable wedding workout schedule. Planning a wedding is one of the busiest times of your life and trying to workout in the morning six days a week, for example, may be unrealistic. Instead, aim for a few days a week where you can really focus 100 percent during your workout.

Work Out with a Buddy
Better together, right? The bride shouldn’t be the only one who wants to look fantastic in the wedding photos. Enlist your fiancé to workout with you. This gives you two dedicated time to spend together each week while working toward a goal as a couple. Think of it as an interactive date (no wedding planning talk allowed!). “In my experience, couples who are both focused on improving their fitness for the wedding tend to have greater success,” Zender. “If both of you care about looking and feeling your best for each other on your wedding day, it helps keep the motivation and accountability up. Plus, it’s fun to share goals and progress with each other along the way.”

Create a Personalized Program
Most brides want to workout in the lead up to their wedding, but figuring out where to begin can be daunting. Most exercise experts recommend doing a combo of cardio and strength training in order to help you lose weight and build muscle mass. If possible, set up an appointment with a personal trainer who can tailor a program specifically to your fitness goals and motivate you during one-on-one (or one-on-two) sessions. “Start training minimum eight weeks out and keep a consistent, diverse training regimen, increasing in frequency and intensity each week,” says David Rosenbaum, a certified personal trainer with Veluxe, an on-demand wellness and beauty app. “I see too many people train too intensely too early on and then fade out when their goal or event nears.”

Working with a personal trainer not in your wedding budget? Apps like My Fitness Pal, Lose It, MyZone and MyPlate can all help keep you in track without busting your budget.

Don’t Forget to De-Stress
A wedding workout will mostly focus on looking your best for the big walk down the aisle, but don’t forget that a comprehensive exercise plan should include healthy stress relievers as well. “Exercise takes care of a big part of the stress, but you’ll want to make sure you’re taking care of your body as well,” says Rosenbaum. “Yoga will help keep the body nice and limber, and massages will help reset your fascia and blood flow. You can also add some meditation to keep your mind clear.”

Make Healthy Food Choices
Getting wedding-ready isn’t just about working out. Nutrition plays a big role in ensuring you’ll look fabulous in your dress. Setting up a healthy wedding diet is more than half the battle. “Nutrition is 60-80 percent of a person’s visual results so if your body is not changing with your ‘regular’ diet, then your wedding diet will require some changes,” says Davis. Most nutritionists recommend a moderate diet (with some splurges!) consisting of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and veggies.

Have Fun!
Don’t dread your wedding workout. Planning your wedding—though it can be stressful—should be a time you look back on fondly. And that includes the time you spent sweating for the wedding! “The most important piece of dieting and working out is to make sure you find a way to have fun with it,” says Natalia Millan, an instructor with SoulCycle in Washington, DC. “Find a workout that is fun for you and can become part of your weekly routine before and after your wedding.”

The payoff will be worth it in the end. “There is no better feeling out there than feeling fit,” says Rosenbaum. “Once you’ve achieved that peak level of fitness, the wedding will feel like a breeze!”