The Best Wedding Workout Routines

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woman in black bikini and lace robe walking holding hands with a man on the beach

At some point in your wedding planning journey, the following thought crosses many brides’ and grooms’ minds: “I need to look amazing on my wedding day.” (Spoiler alert: you will.) While we could write several books about our society’s complex relationship to body type and size, right now we’re just going to focus on sharing a few great wedding workout routines to help brides and grooms look smashing on their big day. We believe that small lifestyle changes can go a long way in making couples look and feel great—which means setting healthy, realistic goals before your wedding that you can continue to strive for well into married life. Fad diets need not apply.

bride in short white dress and groom in black tuxedo on the street of New Orleans

Photo Credit || Chaz Cruz

There are different ways to up your standard fitness routine and make (doable) changes to the way you eat that will help you look and feel healthy, well-rested, and full of energy for your wedding. We reached out to several fitness experts to provide an overview of the best wedding workout programs, including a typical gym workout (weight lifting and cardio), CrossFit, barre, and yoga. We’ve also made a general list of other steps you can take to look and feel your best on your wedding day. So tie up your tennis shoes—it’s time to sweat.

bride and groom standing outside a red door

Photo Credit || Ok2bu Images LLC

Workout #1: Hitting The Gym

The Expert: Angie Andrechyn, Personal Trainer

What does a good gym workout consist of?

A good gym workout consists of about 80% weight lifting and 20% cardio. This goes for men AND women. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn. If you are afraid of getting bulky, remember that men and women are built differently, and therefore, will put on muscle differently. It takes a lot of hormones and supplements for a woman to look like Hulk Hogan. Most women who lift look more like Sports Illustrated swimsuit models! Any cardio at the gym should be short (20-30 minutes) and the most effective cardio workouts will be interval training. My personal favorite is five good sprints after a workout. So if you want to look toned and fit in that wedding dress, don’t waste your time on cardio machines and hop on the squat rack.

What do people like most about a gym workout compared to other workout programs?

I think what people like most about a normal gym routine is that it is the baseline for every other kind of workout out there. It’s like eating healthy versus going on a fad diet. Eating healthy is always going to be the same no matter what. Fad diets are based on eating healthy and people love to change things up, but it can’t replace good, old-fashioned, basic nutrition. That’s what a gym workout is. Workout programs keep people motivated because they are fun and different, but they can’t replace the fundamentals.

What do you recommend for people just getting started?

For anyone who is getting started at the gym, most gyms offer at least one free personal training session. Take it! I’m a trainer and I’m still learning. The best thing you can do is find a really good gym buddy who knows what he/she is doing and has been lifting for a while. Having a gym buddy is also a great motivator to get to the gym even when you don’t want to.

someone buttoning up a bride's gown in the back

Photo Credit || Cory Lee Photography

Workout #2: CrossFit

The Expert: Scott Linton, CrossFit Charlottesville

What does a CrossFit workout consist of?

CrossFit combines compound, functional movements in a high-intensity workout setting. This entails moving your body or some sort of weighted implement, rather than using a machine that isolates a single muscle group. A typical WOD (“Workout of the Day”) will consist of some sort of strength- or skill-based movement followed by a conditioning piece that could be as short as 3-5 minutes or as long as 20-30. For example, one benchmark workout named “Cindy” has you perform as many rounds as possible of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 bodyweight squats within a 20 minute time cap. Other CrossFit workouts might include some combination of dynamic barbell movements, kettlebell swings, box jumps, burpees or running (to name only a few options). The bottom line is, CrossFit is a broad and inclusive high-intensity fitness regimen, so the movements, time domain, weight, repetition, and intensity can all change from workout to workout as well as from one CrossFit gym to another.

What do people like most about CrossFit compared to other workout programs?

People of all walks of life are drawn to CrossFit for different reasons. Many say the biggest draw of CrossFit is that you get amazing results, provided you put in the work and learn proper movement mechanics. Some enjoy CrossFit because of the variety and intensity of the workouts while others are drawn to its competitive nature, which they rely on to help push themselves to their full potential. The “community feel” found in CrossFit gyms is another thing that people love. You have your peers there to help push you through a tough workout and you form close bonds through the experience and accomplishment of completing it together. Another really unique aspect of CrossFit workouts is that they are led by a trainer in a small group setting, so you get individualized attention at a fraction of what a single personal training session might cost.

What do you recommend for people just getting started?

Every CrossFit gym is different, but most gyms offer some sort of beginner or introductory class. At CrossFit Charlottesville, we offer free introductory classes three times per week where we show newcomers what our gym has to offer in terms of classes, training staff, and programming. We also teach them some basic movements before leading them through a short CrossFit workout. Beyond that, new members that sign up with our gym can go through a beginner’s class that we call “Essentials.” Our Essentials class is great for people that might not have a lot of experience with some of the more complex movements that come up in CrossFit workouts. We also teach people about proper “scaling,” or adjusting the workout according to their individual fitness and skill level.

bride holding on to groom's shoulder as they stand in front of Charleston waterfront

Photo Credit || Cory Lee Photography

Workout #3: Barre

Jill DeNinno, Owner of Pure Barre Rockville

What does a barre workout consist of?

Pure Barre is a 55-minute total body workout focused on small isometric movements utilizing the ballet barre to lift your seat, tone your thighs, abs, and arms, and burn fat in record-breaking time. The program uses small, safe movements to work each muscle group to fatigue (where it shakes/quivers), then releases it and stretches it back out. Each workout starts with a warm up in the center of the room (think hundreds, planks, pushups, etc.) and weight work utilizing 2, 3, or 5 pound hand weights to work your arms, chest, and upper back—it sounds easy, but your arms will be shaking! After a quick stretch, the class transitions to the barre to work the thighs and the seat. Finally, the class comes back down to the floor for some additional abs work and a cool down.

What do people like most about barre compared to other workout programs?

It’s fun! People love that they see noticeable results in their bodies in just ten classes and that the classes offer a lot of variety—no two classes are ever exactly the same. In Pure Barre, the workout is driven by specific music that is changing all the time so each workout feels fresh and keeps the clients engaged with the movements.

Pure Barre is also a very safe, low-impact workout. There are no fast or large movements that could have a negative impact on your joints. We keep our classes small, so the teacher can give proper attention to each student. The workout is safe for all ages and all levels of fitness, so it is a very approachable exercise program.

What do you recommend for people just getting started?

All Pure Barre classes are the same level, as the technique was designed to work for people at all levels of fitness. Instructors will offer individual modifications for beginner students as well as ways to make each exercise just a bit more challenging for those more advanced. New clients are encouraged to come to their first class 15 minutes early to meet the instructor, who will go over some of the common moves and terminology from class. All clients are also encouraged to stay after and ask the teacher questions if they had trouble grasping an exercise or feeling the movement in the correct area. Additionally, we offer periodic “Breaking Down the Barre” workshops that are a great opportunity for both new and veteran Pure Barre clients to deepen their understanding of the technique.

bride and groom sitting on a bench in front of a wooden arbor outside

Photo Credit || Tesora Photography

Workout #4: Yoga

Nicole Boyle, Owner of In Balance Yoga Studio

What does a yoga workout consist of?

Yoga connects our movement with our breath and our mind. The breath links the body with the mind and spirit improving our health and relaxation. Whatever your age or ability, yoga can help you vastly improve the quality of your life and health. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit, meaning to yoke or discipline, to unite, to make whole. A yoga workout consists of moving through the different poses (asanas) with your breath, moving mindfully, listening to your body in and out of the postures.

What do people like most about yoga compared to other workout programs?

Yoga has been the only exercise routine that I have been dedicated to, returning daily and looking forward to it—happy about it. Your body transforms quickly in yoga. The practice is very therapeutic because you see the change each time you are on the mat in something: your flexibility, your breath, the balance, the range of motion or slowing down of your monkey mind. It is amazing to work every organ, gland, nerve, tendon, ligament, and muscle in the whole body throughout the practice improving your circulation, balance, confidence, strength, and happiness. A regular yoga practice opens many other doors of wellness. You hydrate better, drinking more water to get through your practice, eat better, sleep better, and a new door opens showing you a new community of love, support, and wellness to try a new healthy lifestyle. It makes you feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually!

What do you recommend for people just getting started?

There are many different styles of yoga that are available to practice. Try different styles of yoga and see which style resonates with you. Do you like the heat, do you want to build your own internal heat, do you prefer restorative (or yin) vs power vinyasa classes? Do your research before you practice. Is the class being offered beginner-friendly? Find yoga for beginners, chair yoga, restorative yoga, bikram, or a beginner-friendly hot yoga series. Be well hydrated, don’t eat at least two hours before, and just go—step onto the mat. Find the style that resonates with you first and practice. “Practice, practice, practice, and all is coming!” You’ll find your yoga glow!

woman sitting on the beach doing a yoga pose in boho clothing

Photo Credit || Kayla Nicole Photography

General Wedding Workout Tips

In addition to killing it at the gym, CrossFit, barre, and yoga, there are endless ways to get a good wedding workout. Here are just a few ideas off the top of our head: participate in outdoors clubs and running groups, go dancing, do a DVD workout at home, or join a local sports team. To figure out what’s best for you, test different options or mix a few programs together. Whatever option(s) you chose, you and your partner might find the following strategies helpful:

  • Set a goal and track your progress using apps such as Map My Run, MyFitnessPal, or a wearable tracker like Fitbit.
  • Remember, the number on the scale doesn’t matter. Muscle weighs more than fat so you might gain weight (even if you’re only running!).
  • You can’t out-run a bad diet. Nutrition is a major component of being healthy.
  • Have a workout buddy when you can. Involving your fiancé(e) is a wonderful way relieve any wedding planning stress and have some together time.
  • Follow your role models on Instagram or Facebook for motivation and fitness or food advice.
  • Take pictures weekly to stay motivated by how your body is changing.
  • Plan and prep your meals for the week (especially if you have a busy schedule).
  • Buy produce in bulk at the farmer’s market or even commercial grocery chains like Costco to save money.
  • Sign up for races or group challenges to reach periodic goals for better motivation and accountability.
  • Don’t be afraid to lift heavy.
  • Drink A TON of water and lower your sodium and carb intake a few weeks leading up to your big day.
  • Consider a 30-day fitness or wellness challenge—think practicing yoga, walking 1,000 steps, drinking 8 ounces of water, etc. every day for a month. Knowing you have committed to a 30-day challenge puts you in a goal-oriented mindset of achievement.
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