It's a fact of life—like the sun rising in the east or a yellow starburst tasting like dish soap—that every bride looks beautiful on her wedding day. So while we don't want you stressing out about a tummy pooch, flabby arms, or back bulge we guarantee only you notice, we totally support you using your wedding as an excuse to get in the best shape of your life.
While we get that it feels like you only have one chance to look your very best on your big day, we also encourage you to think of your wedding and the months leading up to it as a starting line, not a finish line. And, think of your wedding workout as a fun stress-reducer, not one more grueling task to cross off your endless wedding planning to-do list.
Maybe you love high-intensity aerobic exercise. Perhaps slower-paced, strength training is your jam. You could prefer a low-impact, full-body conditioning program. Or heck, get creative: Go paddleboarding, hang upside down from the ceiling on silks, or just pound some drum sticks like you're Tara Reid in Josie and the Pussycats.
To help you figure out which workout(s) should be your workout(s), we dove deep into the boutique fitness scene to round up 30 of the country's top places to sculpt, sweat, and decompress.
There's a reason Misty Copeland has the enviable bod and posture she does, and it's not only great genes. Some credit is due to the ballet barre, which is at the heart of Physique57's muscle-shaking, interval-based method. Over the course of 57 minutes, you'll perform small, specific movements that work on endurance, flexibility, and strength. Those who want to get in touch with their inner dancer but don't live near the bi-coastal locations (or their international studios) can also practice the workout online, on-demand.
Float like an Adriana, sting like a Hadid! Boxing is the preferred workout method of these Victoria Secret knockouts, and now you can chase the same results at NYC’s Rumble. With elements of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), strength training, metabolic conditioning, and cardio, this boxing-inspired group fitness class throws a lot at you during “ten rounds of fire.” Need some additional motivation to keep you punching that teardrop-shaped, water-filled training bag? Count on nightclub-quality hip-hop mash-ups and a lighting system that’s described on the website as “💯 .” For those that prefer to go at it from home, RumbleTV offers a robust live class schedule as well as a library of on-demand sequences.
Miami is known for its serious beach bods, and many of them come from Anatomy, which blends a South Beach nightlife feel with top-line gym equipment and a sophisticated class lineup. Before slipping on your wedding gown, sign up for a few months of Killer Core Pilates, which will tone the tummy for your honeymoon. Then, get jacked with Get Jac'd, a high-intensity strength training class that will leave serious cuts in your arms and upper body.
Sky Ting Yoga
Sky Ting Yoga, coined “fashion’s favorite” laid-back yoga studio by the New York Times for its pull of lower Manhattan’s fashion and start-up industry clientele, invites you to take off your shoes and stay awhile—literally. After digging your bare feet into an hour-long practice—which features a hybrid of Katonah, Taoist, Hatha, and Vinyasa yoga styles suitable for all experience levels—hang out in the new TriBeCa studio’s light-bathed lounge area, visit the smoothie bar, or kick back in the infrared sauna, and you’ll never want to leave. "Especially for brides-to-be, yoga can help with stress, jitters, and feeling good in your body," says co-founder Chloe Kernaghan. "At SKY TING, we pair classical yoga postures with fun, light-hearted insights. You’ll leave not only feeling good but with some practical tools and techniques to help you on your big day!" Live zoom classes and a diverse library of practices are also available online as are in-person retreats for anyone wanting a more immersive experience.
If you're someone who has to trick yourself into working out, 305 Fitness is for you. Named for Miami's area code, the NYC, Boston, and D.C. locations dish out endorphin-packed, dance-cardio classes that feel more like raves than workouts.
"With the stress of planning a wedding and moving into a new chapter of life, it's critical brides-to-be find a workout that feels fun and supportive," says Sadie Kurzban, 305 Fitness founder and CEO. "They need a workout they look forward to, to help blow off steam and find that release."
Each class burns around 800 calories through a mixture of dance moves (think hip rolls, grapevines, and booty shakes), sports drills, and HIIT training paired with a live DJ and rhythmic light show. It can transform you physically and also mentally. Think of the confidence you'll have on the dance floor—and there's not even alcohol involved! Plus with their streaming service you really can dance like no one is watching.
Paddle Into Fitness
If you live in San Diego or Orange County, there's no excuse for not walking down the aisle with a toned surfer physique—and a tan! Paddle Into Fitness offers a Surfer Sculpt class that incorporates beach running with a whole stand-up paddleboard routine: paddle sprints, fitness moves on the board, and stand-up yoga (that's right—you're posing while floating in the ocean!). In the end, you'll be blissed out from being on the water, and your body's intrinsic muscles—especially the core—will have worked harder than ever trying to stabilize through it all.
Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Watts are devotees of Burn60, so you know it works. Classes in the West Hollywood-area studios use a low-impact HIIT format that begins on a treadmill and moves to resistance training on the floor. Each 60-minute class is different—to help prevent that dreaded plateau—but frequently, they'll include moves such as kettlebell tricep kick-backs or Bosu ball burpees to tighten your upper body and burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 to 1,000 calories per session. If you're short on time or live anywhere other than California, Burn 60 also has a video series with five 20ish-minute installments entitled 20:00 Full Body Burn. You just need a treadmill, some hand weights, and impressive mental fortitude.
If it's major sweatiness, fat burning, and total-body sculpting you crave, head to New York's CityRow, where you'll do all of the above during one-hour or 50-minute sessions on a WaterRower. Like rowing a boat on a river or lake, there's very little impact but lots of resistance and a big focus on the major muscle groups—especially the upper body. For an extra stretched-out, lithe feeling, try CityRow & Flow, which incorporates a Vinyasa yoga sequence. Prefer to row in solitude? With an annual subscription, CityRow Go delivers the equipment to your home and offers an app full of class options to choose from, both on and off the rower.
The motto at DanceBody—with homes in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and the Hamptons— is “keep moving.” (You can also transform your living room into your stage with DanceBody Live.) Their signature class is 75 percent cardio and 25 percent toning and showcases dance choreography that’s rotated on a two-month cycle to keep things fresh. Not a dancer? Doesn’t matter. DanceBody promises all of their classes were created for clients with zero prior dance experience. As the website touts, “Move, stumble, nail it. Repeat. You don’t have to be a dancer to look like one.”
Orangetheory Fitness has science-based workouts so effective that after just six years, OTF has already opened more than 500 studios across the country. At the root of their proven method? Each person wears a heart-rate monitor to ensure you're burning (and toning) in the optimal zone for your body. Workouts encourage constant competition with yourself during the group personal training-style classes that use cardio machines, TRX suspension training, and free weights to amp up the metabolism. Ultimately, you're getting the "Orange Effect"—more energy, visible muscle tone, and calorie burn for up to 36 hours afterwards. That means you'll still be burning calories at the after-workout cake-tasting.
When you’re suspended in the air like Spider-Man, you’re having too much fun to notice that your obliques are on fire. “It really does feel like you’re flying,” says Shama Patel, founder of AIR in Chicago (with additional locations across the country and overseas). AIR’s signature 50-minute aerial fitness classes take the tried-and-true practices of yoga and Pilates—then literally elevate them by having students go through exercises while hanging from long fabric straps bolted to the ceiling. “Aerial workouts are one of the fastest ways to tone and strengthen your abs,” says Patel. When you lose your point of stability while hanging and swinging, she explains, you immediately engage your core without even realizing it.
While the positive muscular effects of Pilates are proven, it's not known to be the sweatiest or most heart-pounding workout. In the hands of NYC's Flex Studios, however, it's completely well-rounded. Instead of traditional reformers, they use the proprietary FLEXformer, which has a Pilates Chair on one end to increase the intensity. Also on offer: FlexBarre, FlexPrenatal, and FlexIR, which make it a one-stop shop for all your pre-wedding cross-training needs.
SLT stands for strengthen, lengthen, and tone, so you can bet each session at one of their 13 New York-area—and four Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey—studios will deliver. Using the Lagree Method and corresponding Megaformer machines, instructors put you through 50 strenuous minutes of cute-sounding exercises—Scrambled Eggs, Mermaid, and French Twist—that totally kick your butt, abs, arms, legs, and everything else into killer shape. First, you'll feel like jelly, and then you'll discover firm muscles you never knew existed. For the home-gym enthusiasts among us, interactive virtual classes are also available at 45 minutes a pop.
Mile High Run Club
If losing weight for your wedding is important, remember there's no greater form of caloric cardio burn than running. The Dash 28 class at Mile High Run Club—in either NoHo, UES, or NoMad NYC locations—adds just enough strength training to an interval routine, mostly done on a treadmill, to build runner-style lean muscle and burn 600-plus calories. If you're a procrastinator, three weekly classes for the six weeks before you say "I do" should do the trick for you—and maybe even your partner! On-demand access via their mobile app is also available for solo runners.
You may not fancy yourself a fighter, but boxing works wonders on readying the upper body for a revealing wedding gown. At his comprehensive Boston gym, formerly known as The Club by George Foreman, George Foreman III, son of the famed world champion boxer, gives everyone the opportunity to work a bag and improve their musculature and stress levels. Now, he's expanded and rebranded as EverybodyFights with rings in New York, New Hampshire, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Illinois. In a 50-minute Train class, boxers can burn well over 700 calories with station circuits featuring boxing, battle ropes, TRX, kettlebells, rowing, cycling, and core focus—all choreographed to pumping music. Pre-recorded videos of all their class offerings are also available on their digital platform.
WaterBiking Studio Miami
Here’s a workout to immediately give you the sense that you’ve lost weight—like, all of it. Aqua cycling is essentially spin class in a pool (where you feel weightless, get it?). The classes at Miami’s WaterBiking Studio are uptempo and challenging (you have to push past the water’s resistance with every pedal), but also low-impact and pain-free. “When you’re moving in the water, you’re experiencing 360 degrees of resistance,” explains Studio Manager Benjamin Ybarra. “That means you’re exerting more effort to complete movements, but it’s so easy on your joints, all fitness levels can participate in class. And an added bonus is that the pressure on your skin feels like a mini massage.”
Have big goals but not a lot of time? Rise Nation could be the answer. Thirty minutes is all you need to work the whole body, thanks to celebrity trainer Jason Walsh (Emma Stone, Emily Blunt, and Jessica Biel are walking advertisements of his work) who devised this class on a Versaclimber, which burns upwards of 600 calories per session. Essentially, the machine plays off the body's natural inclination to climb (which is just crawling vertically, if you think about it) and adds different levels, speeds, and intensity to the mix. Burning abs are basically guaranteed.
Are you ready for The MADness? It may sound scary, but the single class offered at MADabolic—which boasts 14 domestic locations as well as studios in Ontario, Canada—is for the ambitious bride seeking serious change. The interval-based strength and endurance program is designed to deliver intensity and lasting results. Each session addresses five things: primal athleticism, power, strength and stability, rotational force, and cardiovascular stamina. Kettlebells, medicine balls, boxing, animalistic crawling (!), and rowing are just a few of the possibilities day-to-day. Talk about beast mode!
The Chicago-area gym Shred415 (there's also one in several other cities, and an at-home/on-the-go video series for users with treadmills, ankle bands, and hand weights), puts the "shred" in "shredding for your wedding." There, a different area of the body is the focus each day, (think arms and abs, or butt and legs) and classes include running on Woodway treadmills, plus floor exercises using resistance or weight.
Are you a stressed-out bride-to-be looking for some good and chilled out vibes? As Janelle Monáe says, "Baby, bend over. Let yo booty do that yoga!" Y7 Studio—which originated in Brooklyn and now also has homes in Manhattan, Silver Lake, and River North—delivers hot, hip-hop-inspired yoga classes. The sweaty sessions are heated (to 80 or 90 degrees) with infrared technology that helps detoxify your internal organs and skin and follow a Vinyasa flow involving lots of chaturanga to help build a strong core and Michelle Obama-worthy guns. Meanwhile, a playlist of The Weeknd, Beyoncé, and Drake keeps things bouncin' in the best way.
HIIT workouts have been trending for a while, but there's an extra fun way to practice them at Sproing Sport, where the whole routine is done atop air-soft surface platforms for very little impact. With gyms in Chicago, West Hollywood, throughout Maryland, and in Houston, Texas, this 45-minute total-body class is scalable for different fitness levels. Though—because of the bouncy, unstable surface—all cardio, strength, power, and balance moves feel more challenging. Clients—oftentimes couples who train together—see dramatic weight loss, improved endurance, leaner muscle, and less injury.
Not that there's anything wrong with traditional Pilates, but it seems to be that when blended with something else it's at its most powerful. Mighty Pilates—in San Francisco, Santa Monica, and Sherman Oaks—delivers classically formatted classes with a little something extra in the form of weights, cardio exercises, and upbeat, contemporary tunes. They also offer TRX, which like Pilates, targets the core and should help flatten the tummy in no time. Not located in Cali? Mighty Pilates let's you livestream equipment-optional classes online.
The Studio (MDR)
With four bright pink SoCal studios filled with butt-kicking Megaformer machines, The Studio (MDR) has been a go-to for brides since it opened. That's in part due to the Lagree Method (also employed by SLT), which features elements of 1) Pilates and yoga blended with isolations and stabilizing movements, in a keep-you-guessing 50-minute sequence, and 2) transformational spring-loaded machines. (MDR) Virtual also offers a comprehensive library of at-home mat and sliderless exercises.
If you're only going to do one type of workout, make sure it's comprehensive, says head trainer Lindsay Hallam, who describes the Lagree Method as "a full-body, total conditioning program that brings every muscle group to failure with low to no impact on the joints."
The ultimate result of this dedicated practice? A revamped body with longer, leaner muscles, great definition, and a super-active metabolism.
Dig out your sweatband and gym socks—at Throwback Fitness, you'll be sweatin' to the oldies, or at least working out old-school style. Try the Varsity class which, like every session in the high school-styled gym, includes a full-body strength and cardio workout, but involves more complex movements and increased weight workloads. It's fun all the way, and competitive—imagine a game of dodgeball where you must do burpees if you're hit. You'll sculpt your shoulders and arms, forget the stress of wedding planning, and even prep your grin for a long day of posing for pictures. Make sure you check out their Virtual Recess offerings for some interactive fun with the whole bridal party.
DEFINE body & mind
This collection of DEFINE body & mind gyms (and on-demand livestream classes)—in Texas, New Jersey, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati—features three core concepts: Body, Mind, and Revolution. The first, Body, represents a ballet-, yoga-, and Pilates-inspired class using small accessories (balls, straps, and hand weights) to tone from head to toe. The Mind refers to a de-stressing class that takes place in a hammock suspended from the ceiling to deeply stretch and melt tension (important leading up to the big day!). Lastly, Define Revolution is their take on indoor cycling with low lighting, energetic music, and all the trimmings. Plus, they offer discounts if you bring your entire bridal party.
Have a thing for Crocodile Dundee (or Chris Hemsworth)? If a team of cute Aussies can't motivate you, no one can. At L.A.'s Training Mate, you'll practice HIIT-style interval circuit classes like the Mighty Mate—consisting of 10 exercises, one minute each, three times through—followed by an ab session in the outdoor garden. What makes it better than your average circuit class, though, is the fact that all the trainers hail from Oz and bring their hot accents, enthusiastic encouragement, and unique senses of humor to the mix.
We told you there'd be drumming! We weren't joking around, and neither is POUND, the full-body workout that fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics, and isometric poses to strengthen and sculpt all those tiny muscles we don't frequently use. (That is unless you are an actual drummer or playing one in a movie.) And with Pound Backstage, loyal fans can bring the workout into their very own homes (or garages if you're going for that grunge band aesthetic). "Several studies have proven the powerful brain-boosting, stress-relieving effects of drumming—which is obviously the basis of the POUND workout," says Kirsten Potenza, co-creator and CEO of POUND. "Rhythm, coordination, and endurance drastically improve—preparing every bride to dance the night away." ...or treat everyone to her very own drum solo.
Believe in the power of three! Studio Three, with its (you guessed it) three Chicago locations, calls itself a three-floor “boutique fitness mall,” as it houses three unique workouts under one roof: cycling, interval, and yoga. “When panic to get in wedding-day shape sets in, we tend to think, ‘I’ll just add in more, more, more of whatever I’m already doing,'” says Jill Karrenbrock, one of Studio Three's elite cycling instructors. “But your body is used to the workout you’ve always done. Busting up that fitness plateau with Studio Three’s diversified, focused workouts is your secret weapon.” A membership gives you access to scheduled classes in all three disciplines, like HiDef (think hot yoga with weights) and Cycle (on Peloton bikes), but a real standout here is the Interval Studio’s signature TORCH class. With 45- and 60- minute options, TORCH is composed of explosive interval exercises—running, lifting, and rowing—and active recovery periods that together singe up to 1,000 calories in a single class. As Karrenbrock puts it, “Can I get an amen!?”
The AKT program, courtesy of Anna Kaiser, is part dance, part yoga, part Pilates, part strength-training, part intervals—okay, there are lots of parts—and the sum is one heckuva good time. With more than 800 clients per week between their New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and various other locations (including Kelly Ripa, Karlie Kloss, and Shakira), AKT switches up its class curriculum every two to four weeks so no one gets bored—good news for brides planning to come month after month. (BTW, Kaiser advises coming at least four months to get in shape for your wedding.) Kaiser also recommends bringing your entire bridal party with you to an AKT class for some quality bridesmaid bonding. “I had a bride who would bring her girls in with her once a month to just jam out and celebrate her fitness progress,” recalls Kaiser. “They’re usually so excited to support you. Plus, you all get a workout that’s super fun, and you get to be together without focusing too much on wedding details the entire time.”
At any Blast studio (check them out in Buckhead or Midtown Atlanta, Ga.), you’ll find a workout approach centered around the idea that “one-size-fits-all does not apply to exercise.” Each 60-minute class halves itself between cardio and strength-training as you venture back and forth between treadmill and floor intervals. All the while, coaches help you monitor your heart rate and adjust your individual pace, intensity, weight, and form to customize your results and prioritize your safety. "Never worked out? Perfect! We’ll take it one step at a time. Elite athlete? Congrats! We’ll take you to the next level. Somewhere in between? Loveee it! And so will you," sums up BLAST Fitness Director Bri Sexton. With the BLAST CREW Unlimited package, in addition to limitless personalized workouts, you'll get a complimentary Metabolic Profile that maps out where and how you as an individual burn fat most efficiently, explains Sexton. "No theories. No guessing. Just scientifically precise and accurate information unique to you that will allow you to maximize your time and crush your goals," she says. "BLAST will leave you feeling your best, looking fantastic and stronger than ever, and able to out-dance everyone in your bridal party."