Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=115777
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 6:06:18 PM CST
Everyone knows brides want their wedding to be the happiest day of their lives and that includes looking great as they walk down the aisle. Cue the wedding march…to fitness. For those lucky women accepting a ring on Valentine’s Day, it might mean a march to one of Chicago’s many bride boot camps.
Of the hundreds of brides-to-be who try on wedding dresses at White Chicago, about three out of four comment they’re going to lose weight, said Ursula Guyer, co-owner of the River North store.
“The interesting thing is that about 90 percent of brides lose weight,” Guyer said, based on her and the seamstress’s observations. There could be several reasons for that, she said, including better nutrition and getting more exercise as the big day approaches.
For Chicago brides-to-be, stepping up their fitness routine shouldn’t be a problem with a growing number of fitness programs just for brides. Bride boot camps and specialized personal trainers are taking advantage of motivated potential clients: brides-to-be who want to look stunning as they say I do.
“A lot of people spend a lot of money on weddings each year,” said Gina Marsico, the manager of Loop-based UNICUS Fitness’s Wedding Boot Camp program. “Everyone is always getting married and everyone always wants to lose weight, and no one really tells them how to do it.”
Ann O’Neill, 32, an editor from Lincoln Square, got engaged last May and is planning a Valentine’s Day wedding.
“I have a fiancé who loves to cook and we’ve gained a lot of weight together,” said O’Neill, who started Wedding Boot Camp in October.
She liked the idea of the boot camp because she could write it into her calendar as a commitment and it forced her to do exercises such as push-ups that she would never do on her own. Plus, classes were offered in the Michigan Avenue building where she works.
“I’m pretty lazy if I can’t make it up the stairs to class,” O’Neill said.
And then there’s the dress.
“In a vanity sense, there’s a lot of pressure on people to look their best, and in some ways to show themselves off on their wedding day,” said Michael Moody, a certified personal trainer and owner of Revival Fitness who offers a Core Bridal Boot Camp program.
Moody starts meeting with clients about three or four months before their weddings and often asks them to bring in a photo of their wedding dress so they can target their workouts to areas that need work such as upper arms.
When Trish Phebus, 28, signed up to train with Moody four months before her September 2008 wedding, she had her dress on her mind.
“It was very form-fitting and I was a little self conscious [in it when I bought it],” said Phebus, a corporate event producer from Bucktown.
With Moody, Phebus outlined exactly what areas of her body she wanted to tone to look better in the dress. Her shoulders were a primary concern because her dress was backless.
At her last fitting, Phebus was elated.
“The first thing I did when I tried on my dress, I was like, ‘I want to call Michael!’ I wanted to tell him how good I looked,” said Phebus, who went from a size six to size four.
The motivation to fit into a wedding dress is a great way to get yourself exercising, said Florence Pittman, 27, of Hyde Park, who recently launched Brides Run, a fitness program that offers classes and twice weekly runs in preparation for a bigger run on March 28.
“Before I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll get to it,’ but now I have a goal,” said Pittman, who is getting married in April. “You can look at that dress and say, ‘I have to fit into you.’”
While using a dress as motivation to get in shape can be good, it’s important to be realistic with expectations, Marsico said.
“If you’re originally a size 12 and want to be a size 4, then that’s not a good tool,” she said. But fitting into a dress is “a better tool than looking at a number on a scale.”
While brides are the most motivated before their weddings, Moody said many of his clients continue their workout routines, even if there isn’t the same drive as before.
“I think it’s definitely harder afterwards,” said Ali Hazlinger, a public relations professional who trained with Moody before her May 2008 wedding. “But seeing how healthy I got and that working it into my life wasn’t extremely difficult, it made me realize I could maintain it if I really wanted to.”
As for O’Neill, who is getting married on Saturday, she reported that she feels stronger and her clothes fit better, although she has slacked off a little bit in the month before her wedding and missed a few classes.
And there was good news at her last dress fitting.
“It has to be taken in a little more around the waist and back area,” O’Neill said. “I’m at the finish line.”