Getting in Shape for the Wedding

Continued (page 2 of 3)

"When I worked out by myself, I used only five-pound weights to do biceps and triceps," explains Karen Muldoon, who hired New York trainer Sue Fleming, author of Buff Brides, to help her get ready for her October 2005 wedding. "So I was spending the time, but not seeing results." Once she switched to eight-to-ten-pound weights at Fleming's suggestion, Karen began to look buff. "For the client who's new to exercise, sometimes I don't use any weight at all, depending on their injuries or past experience, says Kim Riegel-Dore, trainer at the Sports Club/LA in Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles. "I may just use their body weight [for example, when doing squats or lunges] or light resistance toning for the upper body."

If the bride was previously active, Riegel-Dore starts out with eight- or ten-pound weights for the upper body; 20-pound weights for lunges; 60 pounds on the squat machine; and 90 for leg presses. Adding more weight over time varies for every client, Riegel-Dore notes. It depends on each client's personal goals and how often she works out, though she does recommend an increase of two to five pounds every few months. Combined with cardiovascular training, incorporating those increasingly heavy weights is the most effective way to get lean muscles.

Brides who stick with the program are often thrilled with the results: Six weeks before her wedding, Sara Stein began strength training with Brian Bennett at the Houstonian Club, working out three times a week instead of her usual once-a-week. In addition, she did cardio on her own three days a week. In that short time, the 5'1" bride dropped seven pounds (going from 122 to 115) and six percent of her body fat. "I even surprised myself," she says.

In working with newbie exercisers like Jenn Humphrey of Seattle, trainers have to be careful not to frighten them off. "I had never been athletic in any way, shape, or form," says Jenn. "So Christi Masi, a trainer at The Healthy Bride in Seattle, started me off with really easy stuff: five-pound weights for my upper body, lots of squats, lunges, and steps." At her trainer's urging, Jenn recorded the number of steps she took every day with a pedometer, trying to reach a goal of 6,000, and eventually 10,000, steps. Throughout the day, Jenn would try to get in short periods of walking, so that she gradually increased her activity throughout her training. When the number was low, Jenn would take her dog for an extra-long romp at the end of the day. Masi kept her on track when the going got rough: "At one point, I got really frustrated because I hadn't yet seen any results," says Jenn, who nevertheless wound up her four-month shape-up plan 15 pounds thinner and committed to working out for life.

The ultimate challenge for many trainers is the gym-phobic bride who hates machines and weights. Bennett takes such clients to the local Memorial Park Golf Course to go running on an outdoor three-mile track and also to work out on adjacent cross-training equipment such as pull-up bars, push-up bars, and an incline sit-up. He sometimes has clients run on hilly trails and on different surfaces such as sand, mud, and beds of pine needles, which add variety to the workout. Bennett may also incorporate agility training, using hurdles, a speed ladder, or a jump rope to mix things up.

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