International DJ, fitness enthusiast, and HBFit.com founder Hannah Bronfman is always in ridiculously good shape but definitely stepped it up for her wedding—primarily through pilates. Elongating workouts like this, that stretch and tone, are more often than not the go-to for most women. And then, of course, there are those who worship at the altar of cycling (which hey . . . if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em—we now love it too!). And while, both of these fitness regimes are great, they aren’t the only options out there. But, these days, far too many women—not just brides—won’t even try strength training because they’re worried about “bulking up.” This old school workout should be a big part of any fitness plan though, whether you’re focused on toning to look as svelte as possible in your wedding dress or for bikini season. To once and for all disprove the silly myth that lifting weights makes you look like a pro-wrestler, we talked to two of the very best in the business, Amanda Freeman, founder and CEO of cult-favorite SLT, and Matt Nolan, instructor at the inimitable Barry’s Bootcamp and NASM CPT. So, step away from the spin bike for a hot second and check out what they have to say.
Why is strength training a crucial part of any wedding workout routine?
Amanda Freeman: One of the beauties of strength training is that you not only burn calories while you workout, but also post-workout. And, in addition to aiding in one’s quest for weight loss, it helps to keep weight off. Lastly, it helps to elevate energy and mood . . . all things an over-stressed bride is in need of.
Matt Nolan: Increasing lean muscle mass with strength training improves the overall tone of your body. Many women I work with will first notice a drop in dress size before seeing a change on the scale. Even better, exercise will provide stress relief while dealing with all the fun and craziness that planning a wedding will bring you. Just like Elle woods in Legally Blonde reminds us, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands (or husbands-to-be for that matter). They just don’t!”
What are your thoughts on women who fear gaining too much muscle mass?
Matt: This is a complete myth—it’s pretty much impossible for a woman to truly bulk up as women don’t produce enough testosterone naturally or lift heavy enough weights to accomplish this. The female lifters or bodybuilders you may see pictures or videos of are absolutely taking supplements and eat accordingly to meet those fitness goals. There is no need to worry about becoming too big with the range of weights we have at Barry’s, only too fit!
Amanda: We are with you on having FOBU (Fear of Bulking Up)! That’s why resistance training somewhere like SLT is so great . . . we use appropriate weight loads and encourage our clients to move slowly and consistently through moves for durations of time that lead to muscle failure.
How many times a week should a bride (or anyone!) strength train versus traditional cardio like running and spinning?
Amanda: This can really depend on someone’s genetic makeup, but three times a week is a safe recommendation.
Matt: This really varies from person to person. When you are starting out give yourself a day off in between to recover and feel fresh. Once you find your groove, come as often as you can, while always giving yourself at least one to two days totally off each week.
As pros in this industry, any helpful hints for brides under the gun of an impending wedding date who are looking to shape up fast?
Amanda: The right combination of mindful eating and regular fitness are the keys to an ideal bridal body. Also, keep in mind the body parts your dress will highlight and make sure you are really focusing on them.
Matt: While it is great to have something like a wedding to get you motivated, let that build into becoming your new normal. Few things make me sadder than seeing ladies “sweating for the wedding” and then losing all their momentum afterward only to have to start all over again. Let your big day not only be the start of your married life, but hopefully a healthy and active one that you will keep with you as long as you both shall live!
Written by: Casey Sharbaugh