Couples Shape Up for Walk Down the Aisle

Today's brides-to-be are making sure their white weddings don't become wide weddings — the kind where flab is a featured guest.

Aspiring brides and grooms wanting to get fit for their perfect day are latching onto a fitness trend where gyms, personal trainers and spas all promise weight loss, toning and a healthy glow in “bridal boot camps.”

The pre-nuptial pumping programs, which can range from intensive weekend- or week-long regimens to longer-term fitness and diet plans, have been sprouting up for the past few years. But lately there’s been an explosion of them everywhere from New York City to Tucson.

"I just wanted to really drop some weight and get some muscle tone back for the wedding. You have to get yourself in that dress," said bride-to-be Christine Frost, 31, of Long Island, N.Y., who's taking classes with cop-turned-fitness-guru Dawn Cassara (search) that's modeled after police force training.

Frost, who said she's lost about 8 pounds, isn't alone in her plan to get toned before getting to the chapel. Though the bridal market is only 1 percent of the general population, according to the Association for Wedding Professionals (search), a good portion of those 2.4 million people are trying to slim down for their walk down the aisle.

“This is one of the biggest demographics that wants to get in shape now,” said wedding expert Sharon Naylor. "We want our weddings to be really fabulous.”

And of course really fabulous weddings involve couples who look smashingly fab. Naylor said she hears many brides-to-be say they want to resemble buff Hollywood stars on their Big Day.

“I hear a lot of, ‘Where can I find a program where I can look like Jennifer Aniston?’” Naylor said.

But it isn't just women who want to be stunning. "The guys are just as into looking fit in their tuxes as the brides," said Naylor.

Frost's fiance, Rob Sanchez, is following his lady's lead by taking a kickboxing class with Cassara's military husband, Carmine.

"Those pictures we're going to look at in 20 or 30 years, show our children and grandchildren," said Sanchez, 36. "You want to try and look your best."

Though the programs vary, most wedding workouts emphasize healthy eating and physical fitness with interval cardio routines, targeted toning and stretching.

Personal trainer Cynthia Conde’s "Bridal Bootcamp" — offered at Gold’s Gym (search) locations in Queens, N.Y. — stresses diets with lots of water, balanced carbs, protein and fat and limited sugar, combined with an hour-long total body workout three times a week plus a fourth day of cardio.

“Everyone wants to look amazing for their one shining moment,” said Conde, who started offering "Bridal Bootcamp" more than two years ago through her training company, Prime Bodies Inc. (search) and now has a forthcoming book and Web site.

Other similar programs have taken root in the Chicago and Atlanta areas, among other regions. Personal trainer Monica Neave recently began a "Bridal Boot Camp" program in Tucson, Ariz.

"Training brides and grooms is not that different from training busy professionals," said Neave, the exercise host at the women's Web site "They're usually pretty stressed out and don't have much time."

With all the other nuptials costs, however, getting fit can add bulk to the wedding budget. Conde, for instance, charges between $599 for her one-month program and a hefty $4,799 for the year-long regimen — with two, three and six month options in between.

Neave charges between $45 and $75 per 40-minute session, but offers group discounts for four or more people.

“They actually find the money,” Conde said. “They do say, ‘We’re spending so much on the wedding,’ but when they come to us, it’s in their mind to lose the weight.”

Another way many couples cover the cost is by asking for spa or gym sessions as wedding gifts — instead of the old dishware and bedding standbys.

All this hype surrounding wedding-day appearance can, of course, turn obsessive.

"You're always going to have the 'Bridezilla' who goes on a diet and gets sick — that type of person with a deeper-seated problem," Naylor said.

And with this wedding worry gone wild, some overstressed couples might be fixating too much on getting hitched without a hitch.

“All these new 21st century factors smush together into a giant bin of pressure," said Naylor.

But bridal boot camp classes can actually cool the marriage pressure cooker by helping fiances and fiancees blow off steam.

"You're constantly thinking about the wedding through the day — wedding, wedding, wedding," said Sanchez, the Long Island groom. "You come here for an hour and you forget everything. It's just a good escape."