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Fit to Be Wed

Well before a bride sets out practicing for the first dance, there’s a good chance she’s already danced her way to the gym. A wedding frock can inspire extreme bootcamp benders — especially if it involves the word “strapless.”

This fall and winter, there’s no shortage of L.A. spas and workout outposts offering wedding-friendly packages and calorie-torching classes — from Equinox to Exhale to Physique 57 — for any bride who wants to feel the burn. These studios provide supportive environments to help brides reach their goals.

Ready. Set. Sweat.

Los Angeles-based ad sales executive Alissa Heideman plans to look the thinnest she’s ever been on her big day. “I’ve gone to 14 weddings this year and every bride looks amazing and 20 pounds thinner and I want to look the same,” she said. “People look at those pictures forever.”

Heideman, who is gearing up to strut down the aisle this New Year’s Eve in a Ravini strapless lace gown, doesn’t mind putting in the extra effort at the gym. She does, however, bemoan how airbrushed photos in bridal magazines do little to boost her confidence. Her self-admitted problem area? “My arms.” 

To shape up for the approaching affair, she joined Juliet Kaska’s “Bombshell Bride” program at JK Zen Fitness on Robertson Boulevard last month. Kaska mapped out her weekly exercise schedule, which entails both kickboxing and Pilates classes once a week, and working out with trainers three times a week.

Even trainers themselves, many of them in peak condition, feel they have to step it up before they march down the aisle. Weight Watchers spokeswoman and former trainer on the CW’s 2011 series “Shedding for the Wedding” Jennifer Cohen admits to working harder to create more muscle for her recent nuptials, where she donned a strapless dress. “I was always happy with the way I looked, but for your special day you always want to look your best,” she said. Cohen stresses eating right, moving multiple times a day and staying consistent with workouts.

The full package

The “Bridal Boot Camp” at Exhale in Santa Monica emphasizes consistency, keeping nearlyweds on their toes with motivational coaches and routine check-ins. The Mind Body Spa created its pre-wedding program, featuring unique Core Fusion classes (a mélange of barre, core-strengthening, Pilates, yoga and dance techniques), facials and de-stressing massages, last year out of sheer demand. 

“We decided to take the guesswork out of getting wedding-ready and create a tailored program — just for brides — that included the physical as well as the mental preparation for their big day,” said Core Fusion co-founder Elisabeth Halfpapp. “In addition to spa therapies, you have a concierge checking in with you and planning your fitness classes each week so that you stay on track.” Exhale also offers one complimentary private class for up to nine people — the perfect bachelorette party activity — free with the Bridal Boot Camp package, as well as discounts to juice detox service, BluePrint Cleanse, and shopping portal, Rent the Runway.

Pilates-loving brides looking to stick to their tried-and-true approach can try Equinox’s Pre-Event Pilates in Westwood or West Los Angeles. The lengthening, posture perfecting and toning regime comes in six- or eight-week packages of private training three to four days per week.
“There is nothing worse than an otherwise beautiful bride with slumped shoulders and stooped posture,” said Carrie Macy, national Pilates training manager for Equinox. “Our program is the best way to combat that, opening [the] chest and shoulders, plus toning arms.” Macy intends to follow the program herself before she ties the knot in 2013. “Pilates creates strength and a beautiful physique — without bulk,” she said.

In it to spin it

Other bride fitness favorites include Beverly Hills’ Physique 57, a barre-based workout, and SoulCycle, a spinning fiend’s dream. Chelsea Clinton was rumored to log hours on the SoulCycle bike prior to her I do’s (45-minute classes reportedly burn upwards of 700 calories, according to their marketing and public relations director). The New York-based center has a location in West Hollywood and plans to sprout in Santa Monica in December. But if the spinning in your mind is enough, check out Physique 57‘s customizable Special Bridal Package. It includes three or more months’ membership at reduced rates for not just the bride but for the whole bridal party. That way you’re not the only one suffering through the vigorous classes.

As for Heideman, she’s still undecided about adding cap sleeves to her Ravini strapless. “It depends on what my arms look like by the time of the wedding,” she said. “I ordered my dress a size too big so I feel good about myself regardless.”

Allison Kornberg Walch, Brand Publishing Writer

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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